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duckbooted colonial in panicked london

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SH in snow

senate house in the snow, wish you were here

Lordy. Where I used to work (which, admittedly, was just about the northernmost research university in the US, ok maybe the northeast), we once suffered  from a “weather event” so severe that it destroyed every tree in the area, knocking out all electricity in this mid-sized city (and with it, in most cases, my case, heat, as the controls are electrical) for two weeks. It was severe enough that the roads were impassable for three days, not because of snow but because of enormous trees sprawled everywhere from sidewalk to sidewalk. I spent the first two days clearing my driveway with a handsaw (two of them actually, as the first one broke halfway through), walking to the single little store that was still open and negotiating for odd-sized diapers (you don’t have any in 3? ok I guess size 6 will do… Have any packing tape to go with that?) and cans of beans, and then finally, as the tinge of hypothermia started to settle in, decamping to another city to stay in the Hilton…. After all this, the university was still open, and we were warned via email not to miss work at risk of loss of pay. So I dutifully drove in from a hundred miles away, stopping each leg to visit the increasingly frozen cats who were still at home….

Today, London is completely clusterfucked as there has been something like three inches of snow. No one at the university knows whether it is open or closed, the website says nothing, so despite the fact that the buses aren’t running and I had to walk a mile or so to the underground, I did, and I am here, typing this in my office. I will, apparently, give a lecture to a mostly empty room in half-an-hour, a lecture that I will likely have to give again next week or sometime soon as no one can quite get their act together in the administration and definitively close or open the place.

The kids here get weirdly chippy in the snow – throw snowballs at women and cars and, it seems me. Which is a mistake as they don’t realize I’m American, was a college baseball recruit (starting pitcher, fastball in the mid-eighties), and have a fucking mean streak, especially when I’ve trudged into work in to apparently no good end only to get hit in the back by a ball of ice. This happens in America, but differently – college students will do it, but not really throw at bystanders, and anyone who throws at bystanders is generally pretty badass. It’s the whole MAD doctrine, old pistol-packing sub-ambience, I’ve mentioned before on here. At any rate, I throw back, aiming to hurt mildly, slightly maim.

Ah, a glimmer of light amidst it all. Just ran into the only cynically-minded colleague I have here, who basically agreed that people here are annoying with this. Not sure why it bothers me so much, but it really does. Deep-threaded cultural stuff. Strange, strange thoughts, never before thoughts, of Valley Forge, the winter there, the cold and the typhoid, with the redcoats warmly bedded in Philadelphia…

Moving abroad is a psychologically interesting thing to do, I’ll tell you….

Written by adswithoutproducts

February 2, 2009 at 11:28 am

Posted in britain

4 Responses

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  1. Not sure this is a US/abroad thing. Last week, they closed my US university (of 40,000 students) and cancelled all classes because of a forecast for sleet and icy rain. Just a forecast, no actual icy rain.

    Strange reactions to snow outside of the Northeast and Midwest.


    February 2, 2009 at 3:54 pm

  2. The handsaw thing is amazing — a great example of a detail you “couldn’t make up.”

    Adam Kotsko

    February 2, 2009 at 6:24 pm

  3. L’effet du reel, we call that in the business.


    February 2, 2009 at 6:26 pm

  4. Pollian,

    No, it’s a NE USA regional pride thing, obviously.

    Dammit I owe you an email. All is good – yes that will work. Have been buried in work. Writing you tonight.


    February 2, 2009 at 6:28 pm

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