Friday, 24 November 2017

REMINISCING REPOST: FINE BY THE FIRESIDE...


Calendar illustration for January

And now it's time for a deeply depressing descent into the depths of the doldrums, as I regale you all with yet another anaemic anecdote that's sure to arouse your apathy (if that's not a contradiction in terms) and have you reaching for the Demazipan to dampen your despair at my rambling reminiscences.  (Don't you just love loads of awesome alliteration?  I know I do.)

On my wall hangs a 1985 calendar, which I purchased from a bookshop in Portsmouth back in the month of January or February of that very year.  It's a The WIND In The WILLOWS calendar, featuring the iconic illustrations of ERNEST H. SHEPARD, and for a month or three, it hung above the tiled fireplace of the bedsit room in which I was staying at the time, whilst freelancing for IPC.

The calendar in March 1985

That tiled fireplace was a relic of another era, conjuring up images of the '50s or '60s when such a feature was commonplace in most houses in Britain.  I could just imagine families huddled around the roaring flames, trying to heat their cold bones on dark wintry nights, whilst listening to the radio and supping cups of Bovril or Horlicks.  (Yucchh!)  Not so in my case however;  the fireplace was empty, and a sheet of hardboard covered the recess where the grate should've been.

That year ('85), it snowed in Portsmouth.  Nothing more than a light fall covering the streets for two or three days, before turning to slush and then disappearing.  You'd have thought it was a calamity of immense proportions.  "The worst snow we've had since 1963!" was the common cry of complaint from the locals.  I imagined the date to be a rough 'guesstimate', chosen merely because it was the closest approximation anyone could remember.  Imagine my surprise then, when, 20-odd years later, I heard a radio weather forecaster confirm the year of 1963 as indeed one of the worst on record for that particular part of the country (and the rest of Great Britain too, as it happens).

A scan of the calendar today

All I can say is that we Scots must be a hardy lot.  Such a light snowfall for so short a period wouldn't have been a big deal to us.  If anything, we'd have been disappointed that it hadn't been heavier and longer-lasting.  However, let's not mock the English for being wimps - they can't help it.  (He said, in a deeply caring, affectionate and non-xenophobic way.)

Anyway, what has all this to do with anything?  Just this:  As I type these words, it's snowing outside, and glancing at that calendar reminds me of when it hung on the wall of a bedsit in Buckland on a similar kind of evening nearly 30 years ago.  The fireplace gave forth no heat back then, but recalling that room today, with the selfsame calendar hanging on my present wall, the embers of memory cast a warm glow that envelops me in its radiant embrace. 

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

My father hated snow and ice, despite him being Scottish.

I too remember the calendar I had in 1985. In late 1984 I bought a two-year Halley's Comet calendar covering both 1985 and '86. I was looking forward to the return of Halley's comet, the first time since 1910, but it was a massive disappointment as it was too far away from Earth on this occasion. Luckily the Hale-Bopp comet of 1997 was a spectacular sight - it won't return until the 44th century or thereabouts.

Kid said...

I'm not saying that Scots love snow and ice, CJ, just that we don't seem as bothered by it as parts of England seem to be. We're more used to it than Portsmouth though, so that maybe accounts for their horror at such a light snowfall in '85. I remember the '80s appearance of Halley's Comet, as The Sky At Night did a programme on it. I'll watch out for the Hale-Bopp Comet in the 44th century.

Lionel Hancock said...

It was a total fizzer. I remember all the hype at the time. To be let down by a large ball of blurr in the night sky.. Only 45 more years to wait for another shot at it.

Kid said...

Will you be around then, LH? Are you yet young enough? Let's hope the planet's still here, eh?

Lionel Hancock said...

At age 105. For certain heh

Kid said...

105? Ach, you'll still be a youngster, LH.

Lionel Hancock said...

Definitely with one eye looking up at the comet and the other looking down at the ground going urrrrr trying to remember what I'm looking at.. Who am I again heh

Kid said...

That'll probably be me as well.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...