The Winter Husband is a social animal who does not hibernate during the cold weather. However, he does limit his temporary habitats in these conditions. He is not adapted to the highest mountains during winter weather and waits until after the month of April before venturing to Scotland. He has his own special ways of coping with the south of England in January, when the feeble sun may take until midday to melt the surface of the ground.
His thick coat insulates him so well that he is in danger of overheating, if he is particularly energetic on his commute to work. His coat does not cover him completely. His head is exposed and in very cold weather he assumes a posture in which he angles his face away from the biting wind. Thick coats are however, not the only way to conserve heat. Gloves and scarves can also have a considerable effect in the matter.
Low temperatures are not the only challenge this creature has to face. There are also long periods of darkness when he has to fight his natural instincts and start his day before sunrise. He roams by streetlight, and like all mammals he generates his own heat internally, but in very cold circumstances you can hardly replace the heat at the rate you lose it.
The Winter Husband starts the day with a pyjama sprint on his static bike. His dressing gown flaps as he pedals along to the Today Programme. He frowns at the suggestion that it’s a “stately” ride and protests that he does cycle fast enough to get out of breath. The bike is useful for other things, too.
Breakfast has to be easily spoonable. No time for porridge if he’s getting the 07.19 to London Bridge. Porridge is too hot to gulp down in the limited time between getting out of bed and rushing out of the house at 07.15. This is a risk because the dashing time between his habitat and the station is four minutes, barring any aberrations such as pedestrian lights staying on red.
At 7.10 he might shout a loud reminder to our teenage daughter to hurry up in the bathroom, as he hovers outside the door ready to charge in and grab his toothbrush.
Gloomy winter Sundays are for reading The Week, The New Statesman and The New European. He heaps them onto the sofa, then makes himself a coffee to sit and read them – and read them. Lengthy articles push his Pieminster Moo-and-beans lunch into the mid-afternoon. After the pie, and at least one of the journals, he tries to fit in a brisk walk or at least some leaf sweeping before it gets dark. Just as likely in bad weather is a mid-afternoon snooze among his books, followed by an exclamation about how late it is and how the walk will have to be in the dark, and why do we still keep GMT?
The wardrobe mirror in his office doubles up all those shelves of books. Some volumes have been squeezed off the shelf by incoming books and are stacked horizontally on top, so that very few are actually reachable. He’s going to sell them some day.
Sunday evening is a time to watch catch-up TV. It might be The Responder, or it might be The Green Planet. Whichever, he’ll be watching with the volume turned up and the subtitles on, and he’ll roll his eyes if anyone tries to get his attention.
I’ve run out of foibles now, and I’m a bit worried about how the Winter Husband comes across. I asked our daughter if all the quirks I’ve listed make him sound weird, and she said, “Well he is weird.”
No weirder than any other human, I suppose.
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