Sunday, 2 November 2008

TOAST (Served With No Porkies)

I TELL YOU NO PORKIES: Winter has arrived! That's the way it is in Great Britain.

One day the poets are out raving about the daffodils, and the weather and the scenes are picture-postcard- and calendar-photo-perfect. One writes to the cousin in Australia:

"You'd love this! Warkworth Castle is up to its keep in golden blossoms. Songbirds are flying in from Africa. The sky is an exquisite blue that defies the palette. Our noses have stopped running. Off with the overcoats. Restaurant doors are open and the fragrance of food wafts into the street. Pretty girls and boys are everywhere."

And three or four days later the poets have to run for cover as the rains set in. Rough winds shake the darling buds of May that hadn't been shaken right off the branches in April. The people start coughing, the birds start wheezing. This is the real spring.

One day there are tourists consulting guidebooks and looking up at Warkworth Castle. It is quite warm for England, must be all of 20°C. Suddenly the countryside is green and pleasant. William Blake's ghost must be in Heaven. Well, here.

"Hey there. Nice little castle you Limeys have got. We're from the USA, by the way. Kansas City, Missouri. We're your American cousins."
"Are you Democrats or Republicans?"
"Geez, man, we're McCain-Palin Republicans."
"Then you're not my cousins. Fuck off!"
"Ethel, the natives here are almost as rude as our cousins in France, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Denmark, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Poland, Ukraine..."

Right about then the summer flooding begins, tourist arrivals fall again. The leaves hang on, however, even when the uprooted trees float down the rivers and across the tidal marshes into the sea. The two days of summer, the balmy 20°C, are remembered well as we get the sweaters out in July and when the anoraks come down in August.

A flight of birds, a mad scramble really, heralds the end of summer. A few days of glorious autumn colours (rosy red noses and gin-flowers, hepatic-yellow eyes, and orange fingers on the blokes outside the pubs) and then a violent wind. Something one has eaten, I imagine. And it's over.

One good thing at this point in time is that the great outdoors shops have all their unsold camping gear on sale, just in case you think it might be fit to go out and enjoy the countryside and being close to nature next, erm, summer. Now is the winter of our discount tents, sleeping bags and backpacks.

This year, before Hallowe'en, we've had blizzards in Scotland, moderate snow in Wales and the Midlands, snow flurries in London (the earliest since 1934), and just a few days ago we had about 36 hours of on-and-off hail in Amble by the Sea. Not your picturesque hail, this was heavy-duty stuff which woke me several times in the night with the clattering on the windows (so much for double-glazing), and which made it impossible to take Cailean for a walk past the courtyard. He has a winter coat, but his head is bare and I'm not much for being hailed on either.

On 2 November, 2008, I find myself bundling up, having to have the central heating on, and drinking a good deal of hot tea to keep myself comfortable, which is not to say warm as toast. Even toast doesn't make me warm as toast. In fact, if you've been to England you'll know that toast is prepared the night before and served at breakfast … cold!

It's Global Warming, of course, that is responsible for this frigid weather. Thank God we don't have Global Cooling, or we'd really be fucked.

PORKIES: Cockney rhyming slang. Porkies = Pork Pies = Lies

1 comment:

Ruth L.~ said...

Why, you're a poet. You must certainly know it. This was a pleasure to read, especially since the weather in Massachusetts is lovely, and we're not in your straits yet.