Sunday, 6 March 2005

The big chill

Writing last month about some cold weather we were having, I was wrong to be so dismissive about its severity and duration. The freeze and snowfall did actually continue for several more days; if the temperature had dropped by 20 degrees and it had all gone on for another four months then we could have held our heads up with pride and no longer been laughed at by people who have really cold winters.

Still, we did suffer some inconveniences. For my birthday treat my wife booked us a couple of days at a secluded spot in the country; we feared there could be travel difficulties and we might be cut off for weeks, with bales of fodder being dropped to us from helicopters.

This didn’t quite happen, but we did find ourselves on a train that couldn’t move at all. Fortunately it was warm and comfortable and we were able to get out from time to time to stretch our legs and visit a nearby pub, so we had little cause for complaint.

Also, we had prepared for this situation by bringing with us some books, including two new ones – David Thomson’s The Whole Equation (a history of Hollywood) and Angela Huth’s Well-Remembered Friends (an anthology of eulogies on celebrated lives) – as well as the board and pieces for playing Laskers, that marvellous game invented by Emanuel Lasker, philosopher, mathematician and world chess champion from 1894 to 1921.

So it turned out a very happy weekend.

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