I wonder how many people are doing it, sending photos of the temperature gauge inside their house, snaps of thermometers plummeting to single digits, sharing images of themselves on their laptop wearing fingerless gloves and bobble hats, swaddled like a dead Viking about to be pushed out to sea. For some it’s an act of bravado: ‘We’re all in it together,’ – but are we really? For others, it feeds into their natural personality of self-sacrifice: ‘I still open the window for fresh air.’ For huge numbers, though, it is necessity; the perfect storm, which took its time coming due to an unnaturally clement October and November, has finally set hard. Winter has come, privation is pinching.
I recall watching a parody of the one of those Comic Relief film clips where they send a white saviour celebrity to a village in Rwanda to bring aid and patronage to the poor, to hug babies, to admire the local peoples’ song, dance and optimism amid such adversity. This skit had Africa send double glazing and heat pumps, generators and flasks to Europe, to those poor foolish sods who are so uncivilised they prioritise the welfare of puppies at Christmas over their grandparents freezing to death on Boxing Day. It was mildly funny when there was but a grain of truth to it, not so funny now it’s getting close to reality.
Where I come from, one way of expressing being cold is to say, ‘I’m starving.’ Cold starves us literally, it causes the body to use more calories, but it starves us figuratively too as people are denied the dignity of treating indoors as indoors because they must layer up in front of the television as though heading for the hills.