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Winter Wonderland

Finally, a cold snap has descended on Scotland and I for one am loving the fresh, bright days, the smattering of frost everywhere, the busy-ness in the town and on the beaches.

An old fairy tale springs to mind about the sun and the wind. The Wind was determined ‘he’ would be able to persuade a man to take off his coat by blowing hard, but in fact the man held onto his cat ever harder and fastened it tightly. The Sun, seizing ‘her’ (poetic licence) opportunity shone brightly and fiercely and before long the man had taken off his coat and the squabble between the two was over.

It is the same in our town: on cold and wet, windy days people hurry scurry , faces down, scowls fixed in an attempt to get chores complete with the minimum of fuss and inconvenience. Yesterday however the pavements were packed with shoppers and visitors dressed in their best warm layers, smiling, ambling, spending money. The bars and restaurants were full, steamy windows enticing those outwith to venture in and be enveloped in caffeine or alcohol, a warming drink to bring colour to the cheeks and a soothing glow to the belly.

When I was a student at Jordanhill College of Further Education, working my way towards my teaching degree I lived on Sauchiehall Street at the Charing X end in Glasgow. 420 Sauchiehall St, four flights up, with a view on the primary school at the rear where my bedsit was. It wasn’t common for students to live out away from home and it took two years to persuade my friend R to move into the flat with me. We had our own bedsits and shared the communal bathrooms. My bedsit had a single bed, a wardrobe, some shelving which divided the room and a tiny fridge and Baby Belling 2 ring cooker. The carpet was brown with an orange swirl effect – devastating after too many beers!

One evening in Winter – I can’t remember which side of Christmas it was, R and I were sitting in her bedsit which faced onto Sauchiehall St. and we suddenly became aware that the snow had started to fall. We watched for a while then went back to our chat. Half an hour or so later we looked again and could hardly believe it: Sauchiehall St was empty, devoid of cars, buses and pedestrians. It was mid-week, and about 9pm. We grabbed what  few warm items we had, and headed out. I must have been about 22yrs old but the inner child kicked in and we pelted each other with snowballs, revelling in the fact that we were standing in the middle of the road.

Some time later, cold, wet and satiated with our winter shenanigans we headed to Nico’s for a Whisky Mac – or three. the heat from the Crabbie’s green ginger wine combined with the peaty sweetness of the whisky sent us into raptures as we watched our footsteps infill from a fresh out-pouring of snow.

T texted me a photo of Glasgow in the snow yesterday and I can only hope she got out and played. There is something magical about snow in the city that is so different from the ski slopes and mountains.

Winter Wonderland – a poem

‘Come on’ you called, ‘race you down’.

We yelped and giggled and hurtled down.

Tugging the heavy door, letting coldness in –

then revelling in quiet white and glowing skin.

Where have they gone those buses and cars?

And who cares? I thought, this street is ours.

We squished and squeezed the snow to balls

and threw them hard at backs and walls.

Then turning away from the muffled white

and looking for warmth we thought we might

have a drink to chase out the cold and wet,

Whisky Macs please  – how many, I forget.

You live far way now in a hot country

but I treasure such moments from a fine memory.

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