The Big Freeze

Monday 23rd January

I can remember quite clearly the Winter of 1963.  It started snowing in early January and barely stopped until some time in late March.  And although this little cold spell we have had seems cold it is nothing compared to that.  I was just 12 and in my first year at Grammar School and still in short trousers.  You might have thought that that experience would have hardened me to the cold, but no – I still hate it.

We had been visiting my Auntie Pam at Creeting St. Peters one Sunday and the snow started to come down in a swirling blizzard.  When it came time to leave the Morris Oxford was snowbound and Mum and Dad decided to walk the three or four miles back to Stowmarket leaving my sister and I to share a bed with my three female cousins.  We were there for a few days until rescued.

I can remember trudging to school through snow inches high, wet shoes, and wet socks hung over the paraffin heater when I got home.  Terrible chapped legs where my shorts rubbed my cold legs.  I was small in those days, the smallest in my class – the runt of the litter (I think that was what they were calling me).  We still had to play football one afternoon a week even though the pitch was a frozen field of snow topped with ice, no mercy from Soapy Soames the Sports Master.  You could barely see the ball as we ran around just to keep warm, 22 boys chasing a ball because if you stood still you might freeze solid.  Then the luxury of a hot shower after, even if Soames and the girl’s Sports Mistress would occasionally peep in.  We used to hug the radiators as we got dressed again it was so cold.  Then the cold walk home with wet hair; day after day it went on, the snow turning to black sludge which built up in ruts and then froze into solid icy roadside mountains.  It put me off Winter forever, and as these sub-zero morning continue I can’t wait for a bit of rain and milder temperatures.