Sunday, December 21, 2003

At the nadir

Only a few hours now from solstice.

It's easy to see why there are mid-winter festivals - a little bit Things can only get better... from times past, Saturnalia and Yule, however later rebadged. And why folk Down Under express a wish for a mid-year festival for their midwinter. And why the suicide rate peaks at this time of year in lands further north yet.

Thursday, the frost was like a dusting of snow, barely below freezing, and bright in the sun; frustration at work gets taken out at the gym - a personal best on the rowing machine of 2 miles (3218m) in 14:41. Friday was milder but duller, and Saturday opened with heavy rain, and the streetlights on a half hour or more after sunrise. Today was brighter, with sun for much of daylight hours, but not many of those - under 7h 45m from rise to set - and the strong wind chill from the North, so raw, even if the air temperature was well above freezing at about 6C. There's a promise of snow in the next day or so.

Saturday, town was very quiet - no problem parking, no crowds when going for brunch, some economic therapy, and a panettone for Thursday's breakfast. Today, going for another workout, more cars in the car-park, and many more people about when I went to top up on cash.

Meanwhile, the festive inanities continue, with self-appointed style gurus on the radio telling us what we should be hanging from our trees this year (apparently tinsel is well out of fashion). Over recent days at work, when I've been considering something along those lines, it would require a much more substantial tree than the usual miniature spruce. And a hempen rope. Unfortunately, improving company productivity by permanently eliminating folk who have demonstrated positively Soviet levels of value subtraction over the last year isn't looked on kindly even under American hire-and-fire employment legislation.

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