The Worst Winter In My Life

I write this post as it seems like – at the moment anyway – that winter is possibly starting to ease off.

But maybe it’s not such a good idea to tempt fate.

Today, at long last, the temperature reached a balmy 4 or 5 C. This got rid of a large amount of the snow that has been lying on the ground for some time. Which is good, as I think everyone was pretty fed up with it by now.

It’s been about four weeks solid of freezing temperatures. Day after day of snow and ice, and probably the coldest I can ever remember it in my life.

But it has been the snow that has been the most significant. I love snow. Usually. And that’s normally because every other time I can remember it it disappears the next day.

Genuinely, this is the first time ever that I’ve seen it snow and stick around for so long.

That’s why I started to get tired of it. The snow turned to ice, and made it impossible to get around. Luckily I managed to avoid falling on my arse by slipping, but there were many close calls.

Nevertheless, it has made for some great pictures. I went out for a stroll the other day – as I’m back in my house down South now – and crossed a very big field absolutely covered in snow. An absolutely unbelievable sight; never witnessed in my life

That was good. It’s made some of this suffering worth it. But otherwise, this has been a bit of a disaster. And unprecedented.

Maybe that means it’s not going to happen again. Or, at least, not going to happen for quite some time. But I can’t help but feel that there is a trend. Worse summers. Worse winters. It’s very worrying. I don’t really remember the weather being all that extraordinary during my childhood. There was one really hot summer. But otherwise, there was plenty of rain, some sun, and fairly mild winters in comparison to the one we just had.

Of course, anecdotes don’t equal evidence. And my memory may be faulty.

But if this is what summers and winters are going to be like from now on, I’m definitely going to be looking for a new country to live in!

Must Be Mad

One of the serious downsides about running a Sunday league football team is that you are at the full mercy of the British weather. Never has this been more evident than today, when an insufficient amount of rain fell overnight for the game to be called off, resulting in us having to play when it was obvious to all and sundry that it was soon going to descend into farce.

And what a farce. If I were a neutral observer, sitting in a warm ivory tower, I would probably laugh at the suffering people go through in order to watch their side suffer or succeed. But mostly suffer, in my case.

Today the conditions were utterly appalling. I had listened to the rain all night pounding away at the roof barely 50cm above me. The forecast was for it to rain heavily until midday – good enough, since our game would kick off at 10:30am, and the overnight rain would be a bonus. Ideally, we needed the game called off, because we’re going through something of a crisis at the moment. True, we are never out of crisis, but this one is worse than most.

The rain stopped at 7:30am. I looked out the loft window – clear skies coming ahead. I checked the BBC weather forecast. Sunny spells, 9am. Sunny, 12pm, sunny spells 3pm. Well, at least it wasn’t going to rain while we were there…

But the game still might have been called off, I thought. I checked the league’s website. No news. I checked my mobile – no news of cancellation either. OK, so we’re unlucky this time. We’re going to have to play. But like I said, at least it’s going to be sunny.

Wrong. Not for the first time the BBC Weather website forecast, which is soon to be reclassified from a factual website to a comedy website, was so damn wrong it’s untrue. I often laugh at how many times the forecast can change within the space of 24 hours. Sometimes I think it randomly generates symbols they change so often.  

We were treated to 90 minutes of hell. Gale force winds, freezing cold, blowing throughout. Rain. Heavy rain. Heavy hailstones. Sunshine! Heavy hailstones. Heavy rain. Driving, bitterly cold rain, freezing you to the bone. On, off, on, off. Worst of all, I badly needed the toilet. Not a number two, I assure you. 

The thing is about our team is that they don’t take kindly to poor conditions. In recent weeks we’ve actually been improving, having sorted out a good defence. Well, that was until our excellent keeper decided to let us down, resulting in the current crisis. But anyway, we thought we would be OK at the back, at least. And we were, until the weather ruined everything.

Whether it’s a lack of enthusiasm, or there’s something about our style of play that really suffers in the rain, it’s hard to be certain. But whatever it is, we just don’t know how to deal with it. We lose all control, while the wind does its worst to make the trajectory of an airborne ball utterly unpredictable. Meanwhile, the driving rain saps you of all energy and morale.

The conditions in the middle of the game were such that if they were happening at the start of the game then I’m certain it would have been called off. Indeed, I understand that many similar leagues called off their games today. But ours crazily went ahead. If only the rain hadn’t stopped at 7:30am. If only I hadn’t been deceived by the woeful forecast this morning for the rest of the morning. Can they really not forecast just a few hours ahead? I would have worn more layers and a more waterproof jacket for starters!

So today has really knocked the stuffing out of our team. After two great performances in the last two weeks, today was utter capitulation. It was only 2-0 down at half time, and the opposition had had no more chances than the ones they scored. It ended 7-1, in the second half when the worst of the weather was taking its toll. At one point I pleaded with our team to abandon the game. The opposition were happy to (of course they would) and the referee thought we should but our players didn’t want to, so we didn’t. 

Like I said, you’ve got to be mad to be in this business. 

Nobody ever said being a football fan was easy. But more than being a fan, running your own team is far worse because the depth of involvement is on a much deeper level. But we do it through the good times as well as the bad… even if it means nearly dying of hypothermia.

Summer Revisited

At this time of year, with the dawning of Autumn, I generally take a look back at what happened over the summer, and whether it was a worthwhile event.

From the perspective of the weather, I feel very confident in saying it was the worst summer I can ever remember. Rain, rain, god-damn rain, day after day. I just knew it. Those late spring days in May, scorching hot sunshine, while I toiled over a mountain of revision – that was the real summer. It turns out I was spot on in my prediction that:

I’m sure by June it will be raining every day again.

That’s exactly what happened. I would say that of the 13 weeks of summer, no more than two of them can be classed as good summer weather, i.e. sunny, warm and reasonably consistent (i.e. one good day follows another). What we actually had was a hell of a lot of rain in June, July and early August, interspersed with a randomly chucked in nice day, but one which always had the looming threat of showers. And then when it didn’t rain, it was muggy and overcast, meaning the second you tried to do anything physical like play sport, the sweat would start pouring off you.

Just isn’t good enough. I thought last summer was bad: a worse than average June, a very poor July and a mediocre August… but this one really did smash those low expectations.

The worst of all was that last night I stepped outside to go on a little trip to the shops, and it felt cold. Now, 8°C isn’t cold, I’ll admit it. But after months of temperatures above 15C, and very rarely below that at night due to the cloud cover, it suddenly dawned on me that it felt like winter was just around the corner.

And all of a sudden thoughts begin to turn to Christmas. Mark my words, it will soon be here.

The thing is, my miserable summer weather-wise was actually surpassed by everything else. This has been my worst summer since I can remember. I have done nothing all summer but look and apply for jobs. I have done nothing but dither, and in the end have ended up back at square one. I extricated myself from the teacher training plan, but have yet to come up with a viable alternative.

I am so stupid, because I should have decided this earlier. I have no regrets right now, even though in an alternative universe right now I am starting my placement in school and starting down the road to teaching. But it’s amazing just how quickly I’ve dropped everything. I used to read the education news almost relentlessly. Now I barely visit the websites. I still find it all interesting, but it seems that I was only interested because I had to be. With hindsight, that is a very bad sign.

But if I had made the decision to quit earlier, I would have saved myself a lot of hassle, and I could have put my summer to better use. Number one would have been to do the US summer camp thing all over again. I would have enjoyed that so much more (I still reminisce about how good it was), and it would have been a great opportunity, since I’ll never be able to do it again (unless I’m still jobless next summer!). But instead it was frittered away.

I. Did. Nothing. All Summer.

How embarrassing is that. Talk about throwing your life away.

In Other News

As I sit here once more underneath a cloud-ridden sky, dumping shedloads of yet more rain onto the window above me, I feel like it is an appropriate moment to look a little bit wider than the very narrow focus of my life at the moment.

That is to say that my family deserve a look in. At this moment in time, things are looking up for the first time in a very long time for my older sister. She is about to start a new job, and she has finally put her foot down with the waste of space ex-partner who spends all his time engaging her in mind games involving my nephew. It’s a shocking situation, but one that had to end sooner rather than later because we’ve all become surprised at just how badly my nephew has been behaving lately – with compulsive lying being the number one development.

It’s all quite unfortunate just how long it has taken for her to settle down, but with her new house, new job, and passing her driving test, she may finally get the freedom and independence she deserves. And my mum and dad need. Because she has been a very large drain on their resources, both physically and emotionally, for a very long time now due to her endless stream of disasters. Fingers crossed that it’s on the up for her.

Meanwhile, my brother, the older one, is not having such a good time. He has been searching for a job all summer and is constantly being rejected. Or rather, not quite rejected, but he just never hears back from people. Even McDonalds haven’t got back to him, which has been a particularly bitter pill to swallow. He’s just looking for something to tide him over when he (hopefully) starts his university course in September. But for the immediate future, the real interest now is whether he gets the necessary A-Levels on results day next Thursday. I’d say it’s touch and go.

We don’t really talk all that much to each other now. I don’t quite know how that happened, but it has. We talk about football. But that’s about it. Not particularly convincing. He has his own life now, and is very sensitive to any comments about it, so I often feel it’s better not to say or do anything that might offend him.

My other brother and sister are both doing OK. The brother is a typical teenager, liking to pretend he is a tough cookie, playing up in front of his range of friends (who all do exactly the same) when in truth he’s nothing of the sort. This generally includes listening to a lot of black R&B and rap. Which really annoys me because I can’t stand hearing it. I hope he grows out of all this. To me it’s the ultimate expression of the success of the capitalist society – it’s all about money, violence (survival of the fittest) and girls.

Meanwhile, my sister tries her best… she’s still too young to be sure how she’s going to do in school, but as long as she stays out of trouble she should be fine.

Finally, my mum and dad could do with a hand. I help out around the house where I can, but my siblings do absolutely nothing, and actually make everything worse with the mess they make. I can see my mum and dad are getting frustrated with it. I sense in the near future there are going to be very cross words with my useless brothers and sister…

That’ll do for now. At least we’re all reasonably healthy and OK.