Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Weather, weather all around

If this is January, I can understand why England is a “green and pleasant land”. Well, at least the green bit.

In this kind of light, continuous drizzle if I stood in one place long enough I doubt I’d actually get wet through to my skin, but I would almost certainly begin to grow moss.

Today’s weather is a big contrast to arriving at the end of the summer drought, when I really didn’t get the “green and pleasant” concept – flying immediately out of Heathrow to Rome for my en route holiday I was struck by how brown all the fields looked. It was pretty much like rural New South Wales, well, most of the time actually.

Today’s rain is mild and misty. Last Wednesday, it was snowing big wet gooey flakes that did not settle into anything on the ground. The correct term is probably sleet.

I know someone who was out rowing in that. Apparently, when the Cam floods, they have to wade out to a safe depth to launch the boats – and then row for an hour in wet shoes, socks and track-suit pants. It’s those rowing stories that make me glad to be doing another play.

Anyway, the near-permanent grey-filter sky does have some bonuses. One is the terrible paroxysm of gratitude that seizes everyone at the merest hint of blue sky; the other is that colours look different. I have clothes that in the harsh, vivid light of Sydney or Singapore look black, but which in the mellow greyish light of England look more, well, blue.

At least when it rains, it is usually much warmer. Indeed, the nights seldom seem that cold anymore.

Oh, yes, the “Singapore and Cambridge” photos include some shots from New Year’s Eve when (during the day) I went with two people from college to see the Carols at Kings. We assumed places in the line around 7 am (ie, before dawn) and got into the Chapel around 1.30 pm for a service beginning after 3 pm. We were on the good side of the organ screen (a wooden partition which means half the enormity of the chapel has no view of the choir).

It was mind-boggling: the ethereal voices of the boys choir, the sun slowly setting outside (changing the illumination behind the medieval painted glass), the fact that this was going out live to the world via BBC radio and being taped for later (possible) use on TV.

I had no hypothermia-induced epiphanies unfortunately, as there was an etiquette of queuing that allows people to rotate out to get coffee or pick up some sandwiches, but it got pretty windy at points, and was very damp underfoot.

The Chapel was still full, but apparently it was a slower-building queue than usual, some dettered by a perceived risk of terrorist attack. It hadn’t occurred to me, but given the arrest of 12 odd terror suspects in Cambridge since my arrival, it should have. Bomb-sniffer dogs apparently went through the Chapel before they let us in.

Anyway, it was certainly worth doing once, despite the wind, cold and light drizzle.

Roll on summer - and exams, dammit.

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