Thursday, 5 February 2009


Added to the usual Monday stress was added snow. Snow stopped us getting to work, and snow shut the nursery. To the pressures of two of us sharing one computer, trying to deal with impending deadlines, we now had T to deal with.

After some sharp words we worked out a rota. I would take T out while my wife worked. So, with him in the backpack, we stepped outside into the heaviest snow I had seen for many years.

As we tramped up Ladywell Road I took several work calls, which did little to improve my mood, but all the time T shrieked excitedly and enthusiastically slapped the top of my head.

We stepped into the cemetery. I knew I could stand under the chapel and deal with the work calls sheltered from the thickly falling snow. A phone call or two later and it was clear that the truncated working day was going to bring irritation and frustration. I put the phone back into my pocket and looked out the snow falling across the graves.
Everything was quiet. Everything, apart from T screaming with excitement. No buses, no planes. It felt as if the snow had come down on the city as a blanket, covering the dirt, covering the litter. Above this, the snow allowed only the trees and the graves to stand, rendered somehow beautiful by the whiteness.

T and I left the cemetery and made our way up Ivy Road. It was like a country lane. On the left a high wall over which the wintry trees poked, and to our right the houses seemed somehow timeless. It was lonely, but the place felt calm and peaceful. We turned into St Cyprian's Passage and headed up to Hilly Fields.

Suddenly, the silence disappeared. Hilly Fields was crowded. Families, groups of kids, couples. Snow had kept them all from work or school, and now it was bringing them together.

The city looked different, and it was acting differently. People smiled at each other. T garnered grins and comments from passers by who would surely have put their heads down and walked by on any other day.

Sledgers clattered into each other but laughed in a way they wouldn't have done had they collided on a pavement. People stood next to the eight-foot snowman and asked strangers to take their photographs.

From the top of Hilly Fields you could see that all London was the same. You couldn't see where the city stopped and the Kent hills began. And all around you people were having fun and enjoying being with each other.
I forgot the problems at work, and walked T round the park. He laughed and shrieked all the way and cried so piteously when we get home that I took him out again after lunch, and once more before it got dark.
Sadly, he's too young to be able to remember this in years to come, but I hope it's not his last chance to be part of a day like this. I also hope that it happen for reasons other than snow.

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