Cold Clod

Rugged, Siberian cold…

Gilbert White, 14th January, 1776 (Hampshire)

He that has and a little tiny wit—
With heigh-ho, the wind and the rain—
Must make content with his fortunes fit,
For the rain it raineth every day.
King Lear Act III, scene ii

It is by Cambridge standards a mite cold at the moment. Proper weather, a colleague called it (JM). A bit of positive winter. Something sharp, if not actually rugged and Siberian, in the air. But we are all clods of cold clay at work in the city. We are not yet (perhaps never will be) acclimatised.

Cambridge standards for cold are not universal. One of my students from Taiwan, Sina, said she thought Cambridge was perishing until she visited Berlin a couple of weeks ago. Berlin is in a different league for winter cold. And someone I know in Russia politely marvels at my accounts of our bitter -1, -2 degree temperature, before mentioning, as though in passing, that in Moscow it is -15, -20.

Everything is relative. I saw The Revenant a couple of days ago and Leonardo diCaprio was climbing in and out of dead horses to keep warm. I can confidently state that we are not at that pitch just yet, at OISE.


It doesn’t matter that it’s cold, because weather never lasts all that long in Britain. It is, famously, changeable.

Or is it?

A village in Wales, the unpronounceable Eglwyswrw, has now had eighty-something consecutive days of rain. It as been raining since 26th October. The record in the British Isles is 89 days, on Islay in the Western Isles of Scotland, but I imagine that the residents are beyond caring about records.

I know what it’s like. I used to live in Rome, and it was exactly the same, only without the rain. As I say, everything is relative.