February 9th, 2012


Mid-week, with snowflakes

We had some mild excitement on Saturday. The marquis and I, with others, had been out at a friend's house for a gaming session (Aftermath, for them as likes to know what system), and, while we were playing, it started to snow.
This happens. Snow is, as we know, a natural phenomenon. All over the world, countries are snowed on and people say, oh, it's snowing, and get on with their lives.
Apart, of course, from the British. We never learn. It snows almost every winter. And, almost every winter, the entire country goes completely insane with panic. OMG white stuff! On the roads! It's white! It's, like, on the roads (and the rails and the runways). Every single year without fail, the country slithers and gibbers its way to a halt.
So there we were, at J's house, 5 miles outside Cambridge, with three inches of snow and more falling and, to be fair, some side wind.
At this point, it is unavoidable that I sound slightly smug. I apologise, but, as I said, unavoidable. Y'see, I spent several years living and working and driving in Wales. It snows in Wales. There are mountains -- actual mountains, as opposed to the local variant (in Cambridgeshire dialect, 'hill' means a slight dip. It also means a hill, which is confusing, but never in reference to the same geographical feature). I have had to drive in and on snow before. (Remind me to tell you about the time I had to do the high pass above Machynlleth in a snow-storm at night.) I am not hugely bothered by snow. My little Citroen is light and game and front-wheel drive. We bounced and clambered our way out of J's village (via one U-turn, to avoid where two other cars had become inextricably entangled with a ditch), up the little hill, down the longer hill, round the roundabout and so on, back into Cambridge to deliver first muninnhuginn and then ourselves to our respective homes. It was a little slippy. The drifting was a little disorienting. We coped -- and so did the large double decker bus I saw cheerfully completing its route. It was, pretty much, fine, and I am very proud of that small Citroen. My underpowered, fibre-glass girl car was light enough not to have problems with the depth of the snow, and just powerful enough not to struggle with getting going again after stops.
But it got me thinking, about driving -- which I have done a lot of in my time, and which bores me, and which, nevertheless, does not intimidate me. Snow? Black ice? Freezing fog? Enough loose water to cause vehicles to aquaplane? In the dark on a narrow mountain road with bits of rock falling off? Been there, can do that, survived to tell the tale. I drive because it's useful. I have, in the past, driven because I had to, because that car, that skill, was the one thing that let me put some distance between me and the hell of my job, that let me get to the place where I didn't feel frightened all the time. I've driven through heavy snow and gales to get home -- or to get back to where I worked, to be there to do my duty. And because I *had* to -- felt I had to -- I long ago learned that fearing bad roads and bad light and bad weather doesn't get me anywhere, I just have to do it anyway. I'm an average to mediocre driver. My only virtue -- if it is a virtue -- is that, when it comes to bad driving conditions, I grit my teeth and do the best I can. (The aquaplaning is the worst: I was okay, but I was terrified one of the cars that was aquaplaning was going to hit me.)
And I have a small light car, when it comes to Saturday. A friend who is a much better driver than me got stuck, because her car is that bit heavier and that bit more complicated. She was okay -- she got to a friend's house. But that could have been me.
And it's snowing again as I write. Tomorrow, I have to get up at Oh! My! o'clock to take the car in for a service. I guess it will be Oh! My! -30 mins, to allow for snow conditions.
And, y'know, I like snow. I really do. The light it casts at night; the way it reshapes and re-shadows the world, the way it turns angles and edges into curves and waves. Even the way, sometimes, it gets under my wheels and makes them spin.
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