Tuesday, November 24

Winter Weather Grumpy Grey

I SUPPOSE I COULD say that it was like old times: me out for a Saturday lunch with my parents. The weather had taken a sharp dip at the weekend. I went up to the coast to see them for my niece’s christening, which would be on the Sunday and a lot of guests invited. On Friday night I travelled in a train carriage with some friends; we sat there drinking beer and laughing, all conversation and jokes; a woman passed out from how busy it was and started fitting, she alighted and started fitting on the platform where people came to her aid (it reminded me of my ex, and I stifled some tears, which were most unexpected and unwelcome even more so). The smell of the bedsheets in my mother’s house! I slept long in their sweet, homely aroma. In the morning the weather was grim; rain and wind in equal measure; it had even snowed before I awoke.
We went to a restaurant up in the port town of Harwich. Not a single person walked along the seafront. Behind the large concrete blocks that separated the land from the sea, I stood and lit my cigarette against the mighty wind and the driving rain. I could see my parents inside where it was warm and the lights glowing gold telling me so. In the distance were the cranes that lightened and loaded the boats; tall, blue, sentinel-like structures. The moored boats rocked as the green waves about them shook and splashed. The distance of the cranes was bleak and obscured by the falling rain. The rain drove in tiny droplets and stung on my cheeks. My hair was blown about and my cheeks were sore. It was a relief to go inside – but outside I kept returning. The coast, so brutal and expansive, had been missed. Yes, I have the city and all that that brings, but the sea is magnificent, too. So alone it lies there. It snarls and splashes at me! I go back inside. The rest of the day was spent in the warm indoors. Old friends came over for dinner. I cannot think of much else I prefer than food, wine and good company.
The beast of autumn – as it now grows and the temperature plummets – makes being inside so much more wonderful. On Sunday evening I slept my way back to London and strode through the dark, empty streets alone from my family and missing them already. The wind howls through the window of my flat, yet I resist turning on the heating. My ex had the heating on all the time, each heater blazing and the flat stuffy, but I am of warmer blood and cannot bear it; I prefer waking up to the cold, the duvet my only companion. Monday morning was bright and blue, beautiful and unapproachable without the comfort of a jacket. During my cigarette breaks I stared up at the skyscrapers – phallic and expressionless – to marvel at the clear skies. Tuesday the sky was grey and grumpy. I, too, became grumpy as I walked to work. Until I came to London Wall I found no reason for me to smile, but there, on a slim pavement next to a bus-stop, I caught the eye of a young lady walking toward me. We looked at each other. She smiled and I thought—‘Hmm, she is not smiling at me…’ but she was! She smiled at me and the smile came like a wave as we got closer and closer and then a bigger wave broke over it and a bigger smile too. I did not know how to smile, try as I might. We passed. She was gone and dimmed to another human in this great mess of a western city. I walked down the road. Soon I began to smile, most genuinely, and then I began to chuckle. Ah, nothing at all! Although it made my day and the skies were not so grey, not so grumpy.

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