Fordyce Maxwell: My attempt to give up thermals failed

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AS TONY Blair so nearly said, or possibly did, I’m an optimistic sort of guy and this can lead to mistakes. To wit, several weeks ago suggesting to anyone I spoke to, and several times in writing, that spring was here.

I now believe that to have been wrong, in spite of the best show of snowdrops we’ve ever had, and promise not to make such an irresponsible statement again until about late June or early July when, an outside chance, spring might indeed be here.

But after what has now been almost 12 months of continuously crap – and that’s a euphemism – weather, don’t bank or bet on that.

At time of writing, spring isn’t sprung. Sleet cum snow is falling and although I haven’t stepped outside yet it’s short odds that the temperature isn’t much above freezing and the chill factor of a wind straight from the Urals will drop that by a further five or six degrees.

Consequently, I’ve accepted that my fourth attempt this winter to give up thermals has also failed. They’re back on. At the half-dressed stage I might look like an extra in a comedy Western, but who has the last laugh when I go outside?

That’s in spite of the fact that some people don’t seem to need extra protection in this kind of weather. They’re the ones in shorts and replica football shirts, or short skirts and strapless tops – not necessarily the same people – without gloves, hats or coats and wearing either trainers or silly little shoes.

Looking at them as we pass on slushy streets against a gale or snow flurry I try to remember that as a youngster I also thought wearing a coat was effeminate, except, in extremis, a donkey jacket for farm work.

Or, in those good old days, a hessian sack could convert into a hood that covered head and shoulders. But not if anyone I knew, especially girls, might see me.

Now vanity and youthful mild insanity has given way to staying warm. Dressing in layers and doing everything at the double, or at least at the one and a half, is the answer indoors or out.

Wield that brush, tote that pail, run up those stairs, scrub down the greenhouse, set a new record for the three-mile circuit, and if that means shedding clothes as I go – although, by public request, not as far as the thermals – so be it.

Nor is it all bad. Not quite. Next weekend, time springs forward to lighter nights. And it’s the end of March. And if March comes in like a lion, it goes out like a lamb. And it came in like a … ah. Spring in July it is. «

Twitter: @FordyceMaxwell