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Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Snowbound again.






















My publisher warned me against navel-gazing. A lot of blogs, he said, start out okay; but before long the inevitable happens.

What I would say to Rupert – because that’s his name, even though he’s a rough tough sort who plays goal for a pub soccer team and turns out on Hackney Marshes on many a dreek November Sunday morning getting all muddy and bruised – Rupert, I’d say, take a look around. Around here, I mean, not Hackney Marshes or the Euston Road. Western Nebraska, old chum.

It started snowing as I left the red house at about 0930 in search of a phone signal. It hasn’t stopped, and here we are, approaching bedtime; and this is April, the latter half thereof.

At first it was just a typical springtime snow. Kind of picturesque. Hit the warm ground and disappeared as if into a sponge. Then around lunchtime there was this ever so thin layer of slush outside the front door on the concrete path, and the merest hint of white here and there on the straw that litters the yard. By mid-afternoon it was settling in earnest, and now there’s a fair covering, three or four inches of it. Everything – trees, roofs, yard, the bluffs across the river, my venerable 4WD, the horses’ backs – is white. The temperature has slumped from a perfectly reasonable 37 at dawn to 34, which seems a bit harsh on an April evening – especially after I caught my son on Facebook talking about ‘a lovely weekend’ just passed in the north of England, where it’s supposed to be ‘grim’, and my other half sent me a photo of the peas and broad beans we planted a fortnight ago poking up through a sun-kissed soil.

Anyway, despite all of the above, I have managed to contemplate all kinds of things other than my navel. Like NPR, which, turncoat that I am, I am falling in love with. It is, you understand, all about there being nothing else to listen to down here in this hollow, where radio signals hit the bluffs and are immediately deflected back into the ether. Except at night, that is, when they cascade this way in a cacophony of baseball games, country music, ranting shock jocks and miscellaneous hissing noises.

Tonight’s big event on NPR, much trumpeted throughout the day, came after all the news and sonorous current affairs stuff. Beethoven’s Fifth. Oh Gawd, I moaned, ingrate that I am. Is this bloody Classic FM or what? [Classic FM: a British commercial station that plays all the nice bits and drives you nuts with advertisements aimed at the newly retired, cash-rich middle classes. Pah!]

Interestingly, the presenter, an earnest and educated chap of the sort that NPR uncovers aplenty, echoed my very thoughts. Y’know, he said, every time we hear those opening four notes - Ba Ba Ba Baam! - we do indeed have an ‘Oh Gawd’ moment. It’s so very familiar. But listen to it, he said, and rejoice in what remains a superb symphonic creation.

Well, damn me if he isn’t right. Okay, short of navel gazing I had nothing much left to do as the clock struck eight; just the dishes, the mouse-traps, the teeth. And, hungry for any distraction after penning a blog, a journal and another thousand words on the adventures of a North Yorkshire country copper, I listened – and before long was dancing round the living-room, in raptures. I tell you what, it beats navel-gazing any day.