Oliver Cross: We should all look forward to the joys of long dark nights

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I THOUGHT IT might help readers if, as late-autumn and winter approaches, I were to point out some of the joys of the season of dark mornings, burst pipes and Nordic despair.

For a start, in the winter you can get away with not ironing your shirts and blouses because you can cover them with a woolly jumper, allowing more time to watch terrible television or hide from trick-or-treaters and carol singers.

Also it’s the end of the sandals season, so no more with-socks or without-socks dilemmas and no more need to expose your feet to public derision (although this may only be me). On the associated issue of men in shorts, I can’t think that a prolonged freeze would do anything other than raise the nation’s sartorial standards considerably.

It’s also the end, in my part of Leeds, near the universities, of the students-wearing-virtually-nothing months, so I no longer have to worry about them catching a chill or about my concern for them being misinterpreted as an 
unhealthy interest in minimally-clad young women or about walking into lampposts while trying not to give the wrong impression by looking in their direction.

Winter marks the welcome end of the ‘special summer menu’ days in cafes and restaurants, so there are fewer salads, more sausage-and-mash and pies and a moratorium on lightly-poached salmon with asparagus.

I’ve also got a theory, possibly unsupported by science, that your body uses calories just trying to keep warm, so keeping people slightly above hypothermia levels could be a very cost-effective way of tackling the nation’s obesity crisis – and I suspect that disability and benefits ministries are already working on it.

Snow is a winter bonus because it always takes Britain (or at least England) totally by surprise, as if it’s never happened before, even though all newspapers used to have their snow stories (‘THE BIG FREEZE – Britain wakes to white hell’) ready from early November.

Which reminds me of E Annie Proulx’s wonderful novel The Shipping News, in which, for reasons of economy, a small newspaper in Newfoundland, Canada, illustrates any local car crash story with a photograph of a past car crash close enough in circumstances to the latest one to look plausible.

For similar reasons, I don’t think press photographers, who have enough to put up with, should have to get themselves snowed on every year just to provide pictures which are already in the archive, like grim-looking commuters holding umbrellas as they force their way through a blizzard, children throwing snowballs or the smuggest man in the village with his snow model of the Statue of Liberty.

I’m old enough to remember real snow and cold. I even skated, although the more accurate word would by slided, over quite deep ponds which I would be horrified to see children playing on now.

Once, when I was about 10, in what we called The Marshes but was really a flood plain of the River Trent behind our houses in Lincolnshire, it rained heavily, then froze, then snowed. We put on our wellies (not then fashion items) and stomped over the snow-and-ice covered fields, slipping and sliding and experiencing cold water in all its forms. I don’t remember much about my childhood apart from that.

It made me feel, in retrospect, that I wouldn’t really chose to live in Dubai ; that guaranteed sunshine, unless you’re a solar panel salesperson, means guaranteed tedium.

So I embrace the winter – particularly that part of it when the land lies blanketed in a thick carpet of snow, meaning nobody will notice that I haven’t done the weeding in months. Bring it on.

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