We ventured down to the Smoke during the big freeze for a night at the theatre. Surprisingly, our train ride both to and from London was untroubled by the threat of snow drifts wafting across the frozen flatlands. Our West End treat was Matilda, the RSC musical adapted from Roald Dahl’s dark parable of good and evil. The gong-drenched pantomime was a slick, visually stunning, superbly staged, brilliantly choreographed, foot-tapping extravaganza that left a warm glow like a vintage brandy on a chilly night. The performance was only slightly marred by the quartet of ladies sitting immediately behind us who provided a running commentary while rustling their way through a hundredweight of Maltesers. Every appearance of a cute child on stage was greeted with an “aah” and, since much of the cast is made up of cute kiddies, there were a lot of aahs to sit through. A word of caution, the deafening crescendo of pre-pubescent sopranos singing in perfect harmony might crack your glasses and make your ears bleed.
After the big freeze comes the inevitable big thaw as temperatures rise to their seasonal norm. The glaciers of Norwich are gently melting to a sloppy slush of dirty grey and iced water gently trickles away into sewers. My bruised back is gradually recovering from my big trip and I can venture out once more without fear of slippage and indignity. Before the cold snap becomes yesterday’s news, I give one last cold snap of my own – our patio table looking like a giant iced sponge on a silver cake stand.
Norwich City Council in its municipal wisdom has decided that gritting pavements isn’t their bag. While city streets are generally clear, the continuing arctic snap means that unsuspecting pedestrians risk their dignities and their coccyxes attempting to skate along the glacial footpaths. People are dropping like nine pins judging by the amateur footage taken by a voyeuristic resident of Duke Street. Yesterday, I was gingery trying to navigate the Tombland icecap. My thick-tread winter boots did not save me from an arse-over-tit, ice scream tumble that nearly put me into an early grave. It hurt. I think I’ll sue. It’s all the rage these days.
It didn’t take the power of the Delphic Oracle to predict the chaos that would result from yesterday’s whiteout. Even a light dusting of snow generally brings the nation to a shuddering halt. East Anglia has been particularly badly hit by the avalanche. It’s been the talk of BBC Radio Norfolk all day with a litany of cancelled events hitting the airwaves – whist drives, netball practice, line dancing, am dram, bowls and bingo. The county is littered with abandoned cars, parish halls have shut up shop, the brownies will not be dib-dib-dob-dobbing any time soon and the oven’s gone cold at the WI. Hundreds of schools have called time and thousands of kids are playing in the snow before it turns to dirty slush. Trains are cancelled and planes are grounded at Norwich International Airport (Yes, Norwich does have an international airport, not that you can fly to anywhere particularly exciting). The Dunkirk spirit has been rekindled and tales of random acts of kindness are flooding in. Plummeting temperatures and a sharp frost will guarantee that the show will run and run for a few days more. This all pales into insignificance when compared to the drama and tragedy that unfolded on the streets of South London this morning when a helicopter crashed into a crane, killing two people and injuring twelve more. You would never know it from the coverage on local radio here in the frozen east.
A sparkling blue sky enticed me out of the warmth for a hot drink and an iced bun. I took these snaps along the way.
I was going to pop out for an Americano, but when I peered up from the laptop, I noticed that Norwich was enveloped in an instant blizzard. I thought better of it and decided to stay inside all warm and cosy instead. I can’t afford to break a hip at my age. Naturally, the county came to a standstill with jack-knifed trucks bringing gridlock to the highways and byways. Liam arrived home from his rural office two hours late. “Bugger the dinner,” he said. “Let’s go out for a pizza.” So that’s what we did.