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Thursday, July 18, 2024
Laterally SpeakingKeeping Warm

Keeping Warm

“Baby, it’s cold outside’’—and so it was in 1949 when Ella Fitzgerald sang the song and the temperature reached 10 degrees below, but it hasn’t been that cold in west Dorset for the last three years or more. Of course, I realise everything’s relative. As I write, we haven’t had to suffer (yet) the nasty snowstorms currently being endured by our colleagues ‘up North’, but I can’t remember the last time my little bird bath had a thin film of ice on top or the car wipers stuck to the windscreen. It’s so chilly today that I’m going to start the petrol strimmer—not to strim the weeds but to warm my hands on the engine. This morning, I even wore two pairs of socks in my boots! Oh yes, it’s hard ‘down South’…

For those of us lucky enough to live in the mild Southwest, these minor events (along with wearing a wooly hat in bed and trying with difficulty to type emails with gloves) are the nearest indications we get for a National Severe Weather Warning. So how best to stay warm in these unusually icy times without breaking the bank?

For a start, you can sit round a fire—a real fire mind you, with real flames and fuel. In the olden days we used to collect tons of paper from all those unwanted mailshots shoved through our letter box. You remember all the catalogues selling you life insurance, pressure cookers or donations to homes for cats? Well, guess what? They don’t exist as paper anymore because they’ve all migrated to the online garbage heap. And you can’t burn any of that rubbishy spam in your email inbox unless you set fire to your Ipad. This is NOT a good idea because it’ll fill your house with nasty toxic fumes of melted plastic and make a horrid mess of your dining room table. Besides which, you might lose half of your Facebook settings (shock, horror!) though they’d probably be safe in your personal ‘cloud’.

Now there’s a thought… Can you burn a personal digital ‘cloud’ I wonder? Is cloud vapour non-flammable (i.e. like water) or is it digitised silicon and therefore useful as a fossil fuel like butane gas? Answers on a real postcard please, and if enough people send me their postcards, I can burn them in my fireplace.

I digress (as I often do)…

Keeping warm is a useful side effect of undertaking any sort of exercise… like jogging to work or hopping on one leg to school and thereby gaining several non-academic degrees at the same time. In the off chance that our road gets blocked with snow, I’m spending hours of work teaching our lurcher how to haul a dog sled (mush, mush etc), but since his lack of obedience is legendary, he’ll probably drag me off to Yeovil at 50 mph when all I want to do is pop into Bridport LIDL. Either that or I’ll get bored sitting on the sled while he sniffs at every lamp post and road sign on the A3066.

If you don’t have anything meaningful to perform as an exercise, then remember that entirely pointless physical activity will keep you warm just as effectively. Try a game of tennis against yourself or flapping your arms enthusiastically while trying to fly off Golden Cap. You might just as well try to re-arrange the gravel on Chesil beach but it doesn’t really matter—you will stay warmer. You could even combine burning with exercise by sawing up Aunt Sarah’s horrid old kitchen cupboard (the one you’ve been longing to get rid of for years) and then putting the remnants onto your living room fire. A double winner! Just make sure the same Aunt isn’t coming round unexpectedly to tea…

Other ways of keeping warm include collective human activity. Of course this might involve one on one exercise which I will leave to your own imagination (children might be reading; although in today’s non-print digital media world, children reading anything is increasingly unlikely). It’s still a fact that a group of people can be much more energy efficient than many single individuals. For example, if it’s really cold, gather all the neighbours into your kitchen and share a collective cooking experience. The room will get really hot with so many people and you’ll save money by sharing the same stove. Also, hugging each other can be an energy saving and socially warming experience but please be careful whom you choose to hug as you might end up being arrested. And please avoid hugging Mr Johnson of number 97, the Grove, as he has appalling BO.

If you’re still feeling the cold, then try moving home. I admit that this is rather a drastic action but ‘needs must’ in an emergency. Start with a local move to anywhere that sounds as if it might be less chilly. I suggest Warmwell near Dorchester or Burnham-on-sea and perhaps Chard in Somerset. If those places don’t banish the icy cold, you could always fly south to somewhere like Morocco or Mauritius but I realise it could be a long Monday morning commute. I reckon you’ll need something faster than a dog sled…

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