It has been interesting to see how people react to the autumnal weather we’ve had for the past week – after ridiculous +15°C warmth during the second half of October and first half of November, we’re now down to frosty nights and chilly days.
The cycling crowd has shrunk significantly – the streets are emptier, and the railings I chain my bike to at work are almost empty. All the more space for me! Those who are left seem to be of two sorts: the hardy and the foolhardy. The hardy wear windproof jackets, thick gloves and hats. The foolhardy wear shorts (really) and fingerless gloves, and start shivering when they need to stop at a traffic light.
In fact the same can be seen among walkers as well. Every year, this time of the year brings out a special subspecies of Englishmen: the Martyr. It walks around with hunched shoulders, rubs its hands, looks miserable, and complains pleasedly about the “unbearably cold” weather – all the while continuing to wear no coat (men), no gloves or scarf or hat (both sexes) and itsy-bitsy little shoes that barely cover the toes (women).
I try to imagine why they would do this. Do they enjoy martyrdom so much? Do they find the effort of buying gloves so unpleasant? For a while I thought that perhaps the “frog in hot water” effect was playing a role: the weather gets just a little bit colder every day, and never drops suddenly enough for them to notice that it is winter. But this year even that theory has been disproved, since the weather turned cold literally overnight.
The Martyr has a cousin called the Calendar Girl, by the way, who also ignores the weather, but in the opposite sense. (I haven’t seen many men do this.) They dress according to what the calendar says – “if it’s October, it’s got to be autumn”. Never mind that it’s 15 degrees outside – she wears furry boots, or a thick woollen scarf, or a down jacket. Go figure.
For the past three weeks (or is it four?) my workday has started 7:20, instead of the previous 8:00–8:15. I’m not entirely happy with how it’s turning out. Out of long habit, I still leave the office about the same time as I used to, or maybe 15 minutes earlier. So I’m not getting home much earlier than I used to. Also out of habit, I’m still going to bed roughly the same time as I used to. Even though I’ve cut out everything non-essential from my morning routine, this still means that I’m getting 45 minutes less sleep every night. Not good.
I don’t like the hurried mornings. I don’t like the fact that I’m now cycling every single day, since walking would cost me an extra 30 minutes of sleep. I liked walking occasionally.
And I miss the bells of St. Pauls. In the past, I timed my mornings so that I often cycled past St. Pauls just as the bells were ringing 8 o’clock – 4 medium peals and then 8 beautiful deep ones. St Pauls has excellent bells, and I like their sound.
I guess I could try to catch the 6pm bells instead. That would give me an extra incentive to try and get out of the office before 6 at least occasionally.