Rickety Snowmen of Cambridge

The first winter’s day. A sharp frost and a night fall of snow drifted in heaps by a keen wind. There has been a deal of talk about the forwardness of this season.’ John Clare 4th February 1835 (Northants)

‘As cold a night last night almost as we have had yet, it froze very sharp within doors, all the milk and cream froze. Extreme cold this morning with cutting wind, and much snow besides…’ James Woodforde, 4th February 1795 (Norfolk)

It finally snowed. A bit. We woke up yesterday to a gentle sprinkling. It was very picturesque, but rubbish for snowmen.

There were a few half-hearted efforts out there. My son, who was on a school visit to the Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 08.13.55Botanic Garden, said he saw one or two contemptible sagging lumps on the grass which may or may not have been manmade. And a former occasional columnist of this blog (see here) mentioned that the annual tradition of building a snowman on Emmanuel College front court was honoured (as you can see on the front page of their website here), but it turned out wonky, was tiny (the photo was taken by someone lying on their belly, for enhanced perspective trickery), and had melted by lunchtime.

Still, snowmen. There is something about snow in a country where it is never guaranteed and usually, as yesterday, fleeting, that makes you want to run rapidly through the gamut snow actiivities: build a snowmen, chuck snowballs, make footprints in the snow, go tobogganing (not in Cambridge, perhaps, where there are no hills to speak of, but possible to the south of Cambridge), and so on. It is very much a seize the moment event, when it snows. It rapidly passes. By definition, I suppose.

But speaking of seize the moment events, as I write Cambridge United are kicking off at Old Trafford against Manchester United in their FA Cup fourth round replay. Will they be tobogganing back from the North West tonight, or will it be more of a melted snowman out there in the (self-styled) theatre of dreams?

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Update: Cambridge United lost 3-0 to a full-strength and frankly a bit unsporting Manchester United side, who effectively kicked down the little snowman Cambridge fans had allowed themselves to build.

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