Am I the only one who hates ‘Snow Days’?

The country has yet again come to a standstill; an annual event entirely foreseeable yet, with as much certainty, no one is ever prepared for.

At the first whiff of a snowflake a state of national emergency is declared. The situation is deemed unsafe for schools or shops to open, trains to operate, any public service to function. It’s like Armageddon hence the aptly monikered Snowmageddon.

As children we are lectured to learn from our mistakes rather than actually learning our mistakes and repeating them ad infinitum. Is this not just dodo-esque head-in-the-sand style stupidity; hoping that ignoring the situation might alter its outcome without any active effort to change it?

There are countries shrouded in snow for multiple months of the year, displaying seamless and uninterrupted everyday life. A centimetre is enough to bring us to our knees. Hypothetically speaking, any enemy looking to attack and conquer, just keep an eye on the snow report to time a guaranteed success. Just saying.

Have I mentioned that I hate the snow? I don’t just mean a fleeting dislike; I mean passionately despise. When it started to snow yesterday I was overcome by irrational fury, storming round the house, picking unreasonable and petty fights with my husband (I’m ashamed to admit that I  probably do this more often than I should).  Then he said, “I know why you hate the snow”. And I burst into tears.

The reason why I hate the snow so much is this: when I was heavily pregnant second time round, with toddler in tow, we relinquished the (now quite dismal) dregs of our singleton lives as untethered singletons and sold our souls to suburbia. The point of no return. Farewell to the young and free spirits of an identity we will no longer own. Like someone in witness protection embarking on a new and terrifyingly alien life.

That move coincided with a truly bleak and stark winter (how poetically apt). We moved into a rental where the heating was broken. We didn’t have a car (how many Londoners do?) and my driving wasn’t (isn’t) sufficiently confident to handle icy roads in a foreign place anyway. We owned a ‘city buggy’ aka the Bugaboo Bee, designed with lightweight agility in mind for urban dwellers, whisking it on and off the underground, whizzing around Selfridges and the like. It’s teeny tiny wheels immediately sunk and stuck in the snow and there’s only so far a pregnant lady can carry a buggy with baby onboard, regardless of how many times a week she frequents the gym.

There hasn’t been another time in my life where I have felt such darkness, isolation and hopelessness. And that is the feeling snow conjures up for me.

Anyway, it all ironed itself out in the end – we bought a buggy with the equivalent wheels and suspension of a  4×4; the heating was fixed (after much histrionics with the lettings agency); we bought a car (which I reluctantly with gritted teeth was forced to use); I signed up for a local gym with a crèche and, most crucially, as with as much certainty as its arrival was predicted, the snow eventually melted and went on its jolly old way. Good riddance.

Today is Day 2 of this year’s Snowmageddon. The children are still home. The shops are closed like a ghost town. The gym is closed, the pool is closed, we have already endured lost swim lessons, cross country fixtures, football course, yoga class (mine) – and that doesn’t even begin to cover the lost hours of school work. Not to mention the fact that I am now doing the job of home schooling via ‘Snow Packs’ as well as dinner lady, when we have actually already paid someone else to do both. Annoyed? Not much.

It seems I am once again trapped in confinement. Only this time I keep trying to remind myself, muttering like a crazy lady on loop: “At least I’m not pregnant and the heating works”. Repeat ad infinitum.

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Bye Bye Banking

[This article was first published on http://life.hereisthecity.com/sound_off/982.cntns, on 14th June 2009.] 

To pay my last respects to the 8 years of my life dedicated to the altar of investment banking, I ventured one last time to my old office.

Strictly speaking that’s not entirely a true statement – I dragged my heels grumbling and muttering grievances to deliver my signed severance contract because I was too tight-fisted to pay for a courier. After all, as Sir Alan has been highlighting on a regular basis to those unfamiliar (and his wannabe apprentices), these are testing times.

Furtively I scan the vista for any recognisable faces. Tucked away discretely, like a firearm, I have my well-rehearsed response to any awkward sympathetic offerings that may arise; ready to be whipped out, aimed and fired. It has not escaped me the way redundancy casualties are treated like victims of a taboo disease of questionable origin – with a certain uncomfortable demeanour and stilted conversation skirting incessantly around the actual ailment but without any direct reference to it. As luck would have it, altercations aren’t on the day’s agenda.

I am officially no longer an employee of the bank. Or indeed, of anything or anyone. Dare I say it; I am now officially unemployed. Not since the two months immediately following graduation from university can I claim the status of idle thumb twiddler; set to contribute a big fat doughnut to the nation’s tax revenue.

Instead of running from the building shouting ‘Free at last! Free at last!’ it is a decidedly low-key, muted affair (think Camilla and Charles’ wedding). Stepping beyond the doors for the final time, my 1 year old waves a farewell with more feeling than I can muster. Is it relief? Nostalgia? Sadness at the end of an era? The rush of memories of steps I trod thousands of times, in heels, flats, boots and sandals, season after season, year after year. The ghost of me lingers here like a small part my soul that I can’t reclaim.

Today is the day I redeemed my soul – but is a soul any more soulful employed in idle musings than soulless in an industry of alleged moral compromise? And what next now that I am no longer tethered to bureacracy? I hear Sir Alan is on the hunt for his next apprentice…