Suddenly, winter is upon us, the heating is whacked up, and I’m cold. However much I run around, eat hearty calorific meals and swaddle myself in scarves, hats and gloves, the fact remains that I’m very poor at keeping warm. I have to wear umpteen layers and even then can watch my nose turn an attractive shade of blue as soon as I step out.
Once I was in Moscow in December. I attempted to walk across Red Square in temperatures of minus 20 degrees, and after a few minutes was reduced to a whimpering wreck, begging to go inside the nearest building and get a hot chocolate. Unfortunately that happened to be the Kremlin, and the guards at the gates didn’t seem to care…
When I go out in the current temperatures very little of me is on view, what with my down coat and hood and lined boots and gloves. Yet there are women walking past me dressed for an English summer, i.e. a t-shirt and hoodie, light jeans and bare feet in flats, and only this morning there was a guy out in the street in shorts and flip flops. Their noses aren’t blue or grey and they aren’t blowing on their hands or stamping their feet desperately. I simply don’t understand how they do it – I would love to be looking vaguely cool rather than like Nanook of the North. For those who have never come across this particular character check her out at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4kOIzMqso0
Of course, I could always raise my own game and model my outdoor garb on Lara in Dr Zhivago. The trouble with this is that if I swathe myself in real furs then I will be honour bound to throw paint at myself, which is not going to help the look at all. And as I don’t actually own any fur coats then the cost alone will render this quite unachievable.
Furthermore, who ever saw Lara doing anything meaningful apart from lying back, voluptuously furred, in an elegant sleigh, gliding across the frozen wastes? So even if I could get the attire sorted we would need some proper snowfalls, although I can’t quite visualise any of my nearest and dearest dragging me around south London in one of the old sledges discarded by the now long departed kids and left languishing somewhere in the attic. And frankly speaking, that blue plastic sledge with the knotted cord handle and crack down one side will not add to my attempt to achieve outdoor glamour when the temperature drops to freezing.
One thing I have learned is that shivering is the body’s response to its getting too cold. Apparently, when the skin temperature drops, shivering ensures your core temperature does not fall as well. The spasmodic contracting and relaxing of your muscles consumes calories and generates heat that the body is losing. It is also a signal to the body to get to a warmer place as soon as possible, as once hypothermia starts, you no longer shiver.
Clearly the only viable alternative is to accept the harsh reality of staying warm and button up – literally. On the other hand I could resort to upgrading my indoor winter garb and embrace long johns while renewing my subscription to the Damart catalogue…