Winter takes its toll

Before I irreversibly dive into a first truly proper paragraph of this sorry piece of writing of mine that could, in the end, be most open-mindedly thought a coherent text (with any luck and hopefully without too indulgent a concession), I must, humbled, offer the reader in advance with a confession: this seemingly consistent bulk of words does not, by any means, bear some extraordinarily novel theme pervading it.

In this modest contribution to other, perhaps more thrilling testimonies of my peers, I set out to talk of a phenomenon widely accepted as THE standard subject of small talk, a phenomenon on which the British virtually never cease to comment, whatever the circumstances. — I set out, of course, to talk of weather. Now then, I am well aware that it may – and quite probably is going to – be perceived as an activity completely pointless to point out that Scottish weather is not particularly nice, for the mere combination of the words “Scotland” (or simply the whole of Britain for that matter) and “weather” has had a very specific and commonly understood meaning with a certain negative ring to it for quite some time now… The conditions by which we are currently afflicted are, nevertheless, rather unprecedented.

Why then, it has been fairly cold here (that is in Edinburgh) lately – and it’s snowing. A lot! That just by itself does not sound like anything close to a serious situation, I know… (Meanwhile our loved ones back home in Bohemia admittedly have even worse weather to weather, though no blizzard struck there, as bitter frosts have befallen the whole country.) I understand that this remark must seem rather trivial to you, uninteresting – or comic, even; the matter surely does not appear to be as catastrophic as I depicted it in the beginning whatsoever. After all, it is winter – what could one possibly expect? — But the thing is, you see, that such manner of this ghastly season of the year – unlike in other (mainland) parts of Europe where it is perfectly normal for it to snow a little bit in winter – is considered unheard-of, if not completely outrageous round these parts. At this time of year, temperature seldom drops below zero during the day here in the Scottish capital, and it usually stays at least a little bit above it should a few measly snowflakes descend, so that they would all melt instantly. That, however, has not been the case in the last couple of days, and the entire city has become paralysed as a result thereof. Today’s afternoon lectures have been cancelled, the university and all its facilities will be closed tomorrow, and the day after that, who knows what else is yet to come…

Neither the cold nor the cruel wind would bother me as much as they indeed have been bothering me for the better part of the week had I not brought a little something with me from my last visit to home: the flu. Proper flu. Absolutely wonderful. — I can only hope that my momentarily ruined health will not cause our delightful annual traditional private national flu epidemic to spread to the British Isles – although, come to think of it, such possibility is, I daresay, far from probable. I was going down a street the other day (it must have been just before the Beast from the East, as they call the storm, made her grandiose entrance to the city of Edinburgh), thoroughly wrapped up in great many layers of clothing (and yet I cannot say that I was warm), and all of a sudden, my eyes caught a sight too frightful for me to be ever able to forget – a male human swaggering nonchalantly in this ungodly weather whilst being dressed appropriately for a sweltering summer day (which it clearly was NOT), wearing sports shorts and, instead of a coat as he should have, merely something that an American would call an A-shirt, I reckon. But this stranger never showed a single shiver, and simply kept strolling on. What a prime Scotsman this must have been!

Even though your humblest writer would then well shiver himself for a few more days, perhaps just from remembering that horrendous experience, I am now able and ready to report that the said momentarily ruined health of mine has got much better, and that my standard annual quota of two illnesses per winter has thereby been successfully met; I have, therefore, every confidence that I shall get through the rest of this semester in good health.


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