The CuriousPages Sketchbook

A chilly wind doth blow

Today it was snowing again. It is now only one month away from the “official” start of Spring. Last week, one of my patients commented that this has been the coldest winter we’ve had for well over ten years. It certainly was chilly when I got back into the UK in January, and we then had a further two weeks of such thick snow and ice on the roads and pavements that many people were snowed in, and for most, normal transport was not possible.

(The above photo was taken on 7 January; this was the view from my flat's front door, as I returned home.)


Another patient, who lives in a hilly region of Bristol, and was indeed snowed in at one point so that she had to cancel her treatment, commented that her street had become a no-go area for most cars and that the pavements were like an ice rink; everyone she knew had slipped over on the ice at least once.

Today I went for my usual after-lunch walk in the park and I recalled Rhyan telling me yesterday that in Cebu, where he lives, it has become exceptionally hot recently, as it usually does this time of year. As I was striding out across the fields, at a quickened pace to attempt to warm myself against the chilly wind, I felt that I wanted to be back in the Philippines. That climate seemed so seductive to me right now. In England, we are used to disappointing summers; mostly, we might get two or three weeks of really fine weather, except for the occasional year when it lasts for a month or so and the people—so used to complaining about the rain and the cold—then begin complaining about the heat. It seems that it is so deeply ingrained in the English nature to complain about the weather that they will, in the odd warm and dry moment, forget themselves and dutifully complain about the heat, “Oh, isn’t it dreadful, this heat?” Or, at every other time of the year: “Isn’t it a miserable day; look, the sky is grey and it rained yesterday; oh, my life is not worth living; how on Earth can we go on like this!” I really do think that there’s a real chance that one day, one of these people is going to make me vomit, for I am so sick of the English complaining about the weather that I now have to watch the weather forecast on the TV with the sound turned down. If I hear the forecaster speaking, and proclaiming what a “miserable” day it had been that day (after I had found it perfectly pleasant, whatever the weather conditions might have been), I find myself reaching for something to throw at them and shouting out at the TV that they make me sick—trying to cover my ears with one hand while my other hand fumbles for the mute on the remote control.

I do usually feel at one with each of the seasons, and I’ve known with absolute certainty for years that not a single season or weather condition is “miserable”; it is just the “weather”; there is no such thing as miserable weather, only miserable people.

Enough, enough; I’m ranting.

But today, walking out across that field with the wind cutting into my face, I so much wanted to be back in the Philippines. What a luxury, to never need much more than a tee shirt to walk outdoors, even in the “coldest” part of winter—for “cold” is what the locals call it there, in Tagaytay in December. “Cold!” If they want cold, let them spend a few weeks here in this January and February of 2010.

People never appreciate the riches that they possess. In many ways, the Philippines is a poor country. But in other ways, it has tremendous riches. Sure, there’s corruption and plenty of poverty to go round, but there’s also a glorious climate and people with a wonderful nature, a humility, warmth and happiness that the vast majority of us Northern Europeans just do not have.

Perhaps it’s the cold that chills us—or could it the English people who chill the climate?


22 February 2010



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