Friday, 8 March 2013

Serve chilled

I lived in Scotland a long time. I lived in Scotland so long that it now takes me a week of sunbathing to go white. I didn't even know what the sun was for a while, I thought it was a myth. That's how long I lived in Scotland for. A long old time.

Living in Scotland you accept a few inevitable truths. Things like -

- Scotland will never suffer from a drought. Ever.
- You can eat any part of an animal as long as it is deep fried in batter.
- Losing with pride is better than winning at all costs.
- Whisky is not a beverage. It is a way of life.
- Scotland is one of the coldest places on Earth.

However recently I have experienced an epiphany in regard to the last point on this list. Scotland isn't cold at all, in fact it is a balmy haven of temperateness. I realised this on my arrival to New York, which I had laboured under the false impression for most of my life, that it was warmer than Scotland. Not so.

I arrived here a mere few hours after the snowstorm 'Nemo' (why each storm gets a moniker I am not entirely sure, as if it were the same in Scotland the list of names would have long-since been exhausted and we'd be on to binary code by now). Nemo, depending on where you live, dropped anywhere between 2-5 feet of snow in a matter of 24 hours.

Now to put this into perspective, if the same had happened in the UK then a state of emergency would have been declared, schools would be demolished in order to make way for impromtu grit mountains, while the National press clamoured for international assistance for what could only be described as 'a natural disaster on a scale not seen since the Indonesian tsunami.'

But in America? No sir. As soon as the blizzard had stopped then roads were ploughed, runways cleared, shovels sharpened and life...well life carried on. Why? Because they are used to snow. And not just a sprinkling, tonnes of the stuff.

In the UK we get surprised when it snows, as if we have no way of forecasting it, or as if it has never happened before and then all of a sudden this novelty frozen water starts falling from the sky. But in New York they take it seriously, people are mobilised, forecasts are updated on the hour, people are informed. Why? Because it's bloody cold here!

On most days since my arrival it has been in minus temperatures, sometimes getting well into double figures. This is not something I am used to, and I lived in Scotland a long time (which I may have mentioned). I keep going outside thinking I'm 'wrapped up' but then I get ten yards down the street and wished I'd worn my thermal underwear and buffalo skins. Even as I write this it is snowing and Manhattan is covered in a liberal dusting a few inches thick. It is properly cold here but more often than not the sun shines and the skies are clear and blue.

And that got me thinking. It has struck me that I prefer it to be colder as long as I get blue skies accompanied by sunshine. Where I'm from it's not quite as cold but the sky is a constant grey mono-cloud that hangs around like an impenetrable pall. It's wet and dark and miserable. But not especially cold.

So my apologies Scotland - I shall no longer call you cold and miserable. Instead you shall always have a place in my heart for being wet and miserable from now on.

Much better I'm sure you'll agree.


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