12 January 2010

The London Freeze



I am sitting, wrapped in three layers of clothes and blankets (each) on the floor of my room, next to the badly working radiator, having ice-skated down the road to my house - without ice-skates of course. At least, councils are starting to get on top of providing grit, on more frequented streets than ours at least...

Even though London is supposed to be warmer than the continent, it's far more freezing on this side of the Channel. As any person knows who has spent a fair amount of time in the UK, the British cold is sth that goes right to the bone. It must of course be the chill effect due to the higher humidity. Bloody Britain. I guess some peoples got unlucky when the norns were waving their future nation, one of them to become the UK. Britain got dealt a really bad geological feng shui (usually a constant small margin of mild temperature, endless grey skies, hardly ever sunlight, such humidity that constructing buildings is tricky and of course, a symbolic geo-political location between the United states and the European Union - by the way, I am reading Chris Patten's book now which seems to confirm many observations I have formed about the UK and provides even greater insight into some political dynamics).

As I already indicated, my heating is somehow broken, it only heats within a radius of 0.5 meters (my bed is 1.5m away) and not as warm as other radiators in our house. In order to get any warmth I can, I sleep on the floor, right next to it but still freeze at night when we switch off the heating. Having sleeping troubles because of that is the real price I pay for a house that is cheap but an environmental sin (non-existent insulation and drafting windows leading not just to insufficient heating but to the necessity to heat in the first place, running tap and of course flatmates who keep buying non-ecological cleaning products). In Austria, you don't even have to switch the heating on to be have a comfortable ambient temperature and if you leave the heating on for too long, you can even start to sweat because the insulation is so tight, you'll be cooking yourself and Britain wants to achieve 30% CO2 emissions?!

I cannot fall asleep or sleep through and the orange stadium-strength light illuminating the mews outside my window behind our house is not helping and even if I sleep the hours, I don't feel rested.

As another result of the cold, our bathroom was damaged. The new paint, only received in October, is now flaking off the ceiling because we just could not open the bathroom window to let out the steam from the hotter-than-usual shower we'd take for longer-than-usual if we did not want to let in the cold into a tiled room surrounded in nothing much than bricks. The cold would not just stay in the bathroom, it would also take hold of the staircase leading to the other rooms in the house and also make the bathroom even colder than it already was if you needed to use the loo in there. It was so cold in those weeks, that you could actually see the condensation of your breath WITHOUT even having showered at all, like for example while you were trying to fight the goosebumps on your behind once it touches the toilet seat. When you wash your hands, the tab water makes your hands all red and numb. When you shower, you can see yourself giving off actual steam for a few minutes. When you do shower, that is for you tend to postpone showering for up to a week - until you can't bear to run around like a big health and safety hazard.

Despite all this, I do not want to buy a radiator for reasons of environmental recycling and considering it is my last winter in the UK, it is just extra stuff you won't need. I'm sure they sold like hot rolls though (note the irony).

Speaking of dump, rubbish bins were not emptied for weeks because most staff had been reassigned for snow clearance and then, when it did get warmer, some councils wanted to stick to their bi-weekly collections (what kind of council collects every two weeks in the first place?!) despite the fact that bins in front of people's houses were piling up so high, I once winced in fright because I mistook a bin for a tall bulky person in the darkness of the moment, suddenly appearing in the corner of my eye.

And all the while, the space dedicated to the snow in print news became bigger and bigger. Even the Guardian could not help but add article after article to the front page section about the snow every couple of hours, annoying the hell out of me for real news is happening out there and they are wasting capacity for this?! I wrote a slightly bemused complaints email to them, asking if it was possible to do a tongue-and-cheek feature interviewing continental Europeans on their view about all the fuss around snow British people make. I never got a reply.



SOAS was covered in snow, so much so that one procrastinating or very mesmerised SOAS person even found it an event news-worthy enough to share their excitement with the world by posting a comment on the website, illustration included. The snow was of course, also worthy of a library closure (among other disruptions) because "it would take all day to heat the library" which reminds of Big Snow in February when thousands of people stayed home because they could not be bothered to go to work or find a way to. Aren't the British reputed for their lack of work ethic?



In the mornings, I am not sure whether to put on cream or not. It's like spreading ice cream around your face, except the Shea butter is nearly solid and it takes a while if you don't want to leave the house looking like stepping out straight from a Winnetou movie with war paint on my face.

I change in the kitchen (Siberian shower!) for it's warmer down there due to appliances and not being right under the roof. Sometimes I sleep there too. Makes the trip to the kettle shorter.

On the way to uni, I dodge what I first thought was a sudden break of cloud, then i thought sb was doing a prank on me until I saw it was the water of melting icicles running down the jalousie of some kebab stall. WTF?!

And of course, once again a video clip about "servere weather conditions" (sic!) I wonder if the Met Office really said that?!

2 courageous comments!:

Anonymous said...

haallloo!! bei uns ist es auch ganz freezo!! oje heidi ide engländer sind ja a net grad die isolationsweltmeister in ihren bauten, oder?? gehts dir gut sonst??? Die Fotos schauen aber richtig toll aus!!!
Bei uns ist alles weiß nur die Krähen die sind immer noch schwarz!
Meine Liebe, viele Bussis ** drück dich fest (und warm)
muuuaaaaaa **

Heidi said...

maaa, freut mich dass ich neuerdings einen blog groupie hab der mir auch noch soviel waerme schenkt!!!! :)

jaja, die englaender, die sind schon bei der qualifikation ausgeschieden...

ja, ist schon irgendwie zauberhaft der schnee in london, zu shakespeare's zeiten soll es ja im winter immer weihnachtsmaerkte AUF der themse am ufer gegeben haben (da ist sie noch ganz zugefroren dort)!

bei den englaendern sind die kraehen schon wegen niederschlagserosion und ganz besonders dem essig rain in die luft aufgenommen worden => kraehe + wolke = grauer himmel! ;P