South Park Self

how cool to be cold

Scotland's cold is of the order of bite which indicates snow somewhere within breathing distance: it has fangs. It's been freezing and rainy today, with muffled scads of Harry Potter academics scuttling, blue-tinted, between venues under an outbreak of umbrellas. Yesterday, when I arrived, was actually sunny, but nonetheless stepping out of the stuffy plane onto the tarmac was a sudden plunge into an icy, intangible vessel. It shocked me out of the dull fuzz of muggy aircon and recyced breath into vivid alertness as my brain woke up and rushed into overdrive, whooping with exhilaration. I cannot sufficiently stress how much I love this weather. Some kindly meteorological deity dreamed it up just for me, and I worship at their icicle feet.

Of course, I don't dress for this climate worth a damn. Cape Town certainly does cold, and I have the clothes for that. What screws me is the bloody central heating. Anything I wear which protects me outdoors immediately causes me to overheat and blow a fuse the minute I enter a room. This is the land of the giant overcoat, such as I do not possess. Also, I hate central heating with the savage chill of a thousand winter wolves, or whatever else is theexact inverse of the fiery hatred of a thousand suns. A centrally heated room doesn't actually contain air, but a sort of strange, indistinct substitute which acts as a stifling mental eiderdown.

It would, however, be unjust to blame the fuzziness of my paper, delivered a few hours ago, on the central heating. The fuziness of my paper was due to having too much to say, and not enough time to say it in, and editing it on the fly. It was, I think, lively and provocative, and engendered a lot of debate, which was kinda the point, but I'm not entirely happy with the idea that the slightly incoherent filmed version is going to be wandering around the internet. I also, I realise, am still becoming tired too easily, and delivering a paper at 5.30 in the evening does leave me groping for words more often than I'd like. On the other hand, the written version is going to kick butt.

So far this conference has offered a bunch of lovely papers, a couple of boring ones, a lot of very animated discussion, a plethora of Americans, a surfeit of religious people (St. Andrews has a major Divinity school, and I keep having to censor myself, as I realised after a throwaway remark last night garnered some shocked looks1), excellent chocolate brownies in the tea breaks, a ridiculous amount of beautiful medieval architecture, and a conference attendee who looks enough like Jake Gyllenhaal to be actively disconcerting. Tomorrow it offers more of a lot of the above, plus an interview by BBC Wales. Right now, it offers me the slightly luxurious sense of lounging on my giant, swanky B&B bed typing in my notebook, and almost immediate sleep. I am OK with all of the above.

1 I mean, if you're going to talk about Mormonism being a religion based on a fantasy text, of course I'm going to immediately contend that all religions are based on fantasy texts. And yes, we were discussing Twilight.

  • Current Mood: tired tired
Oh so cold...
Oh how I dream of central heating....Tassie does cold on a blown up from Antarctica scale...but of course this is tie your kangaroo down there will be no insulation here! Heating options are wood fire or what is called in the rest of the country an “air conditioner” but which is called in Tassie a "heat pump"... warmish air in the face and turning your eyes dry but doing little by way of heating your bones. When one goes visiting in Tassie one never removes ones over coat. In fact I dream of the Cape Town balmy. After nine years I have finally stopped being stubborn and faced my spontaneous combustion and sartorial inelegance fears and bought polar fleece :^u. Having a warm bath and drying my washing—two of the other perks of central heating are sadly still denied in the sub-Antarctic as I do!
As for an overcoat...try the charity shops...I love the charity shops in the UK. My Hungarian breadline coat was a miraculous 8 pound find one icy fenland winter…I sleep in it now :-)
Central heating is lovely - in the right hands. In the UK it seems to operate purely on an on/off logic that forces you to keep the heating on and the windows open at the same time (idiotic) whereas in properly cold countries (yes, I come from one) you get a) insulation and b) a working thermostat. Oh how I miss them.

The conference sounds lovely. You bring me hope that there is more to being a grad student than massive end-of-term bureaucracy... I'll look out for the interview but tell me this: BBC _Wales_? At St Andrews? Why?
It's nearly June, try it in winter. Oddly, a couple of ski trips have lead me to associate temperatures of -5 to -15c with good times. And scorn temperatures above freezing as "not really cold". If you're dressed for it, I suppose. Long trench-coats: actually quite functional.

But the clothing required for skiing is fairly specialised. There’s a discontinuity though - when the temperature goes below zero for long, the humidity in the air turns to frost and the air is bone-dry.

Edited at 2012-05-18 08:50 am (UTC)
Yeah people from sunnier climes are always concerned about the cold here, but everything from houses to buses to outdoor eating areas of pubs are generally heated.

"But our holy book is real!" Nice work!

Central heating is usually not worth it, barring the cold snaps which drop to zero and don't last more than a week or so. The rest of the year it just makes things too hot. I recommend layering - I tend to go for a couple of light layers, a fleece and a light jacket or hoodie. You can drop the outer layers when inside.