I’m at my mother’s in Cheshire at the moment. I travelled up here on one of Virgin’s new tilting trains which wasn’t half as exciting as I expected it to be; you only notice they’re tilting if you happen to be looking out of the window. They do seem to move very fast though compared to the older trains. The trip from London to Crewe took only an hour and 45 minutes, about 20 minutes faster than it was before they upgraded the track and introduced the new trains. Mind you, it’s only about five minutes quicker than the same journey was 30 years ago. Such is progress1.
The cat has travelled up here with me in his little box. He doesn’t seem to mind trips on trains in the least and positively revels in the attention he gets from fellow passengers. The only part of the journey which freaks him a bit is a section of track on the Tube between Highbury and King’s Cross where the wheels make a loud whistle. He’s taken a couple of days to settle in here: for the first day he didn’t eat a thing and seemed permanently agitated but today he seems pretty relaxed. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my sister doesn’t bring her dog when she comes tomorrow. The dog likes cats (he lives with two) but the cat really doesn’t like dogs; the last time he and the dog were here at the same time he spent the entire time hiding under the bed.
Yesterday it snowed late on in the day. Most of it fell after dark but by this morning there were perhaps three centimetres lying on the ground and with the clear blue sky everywhere looks really pretty. There’s also that slightly strange quietness which usually accompanies snow. I’ve never quite worked out whether that’s real, psychological or simply a consequence of the fact that at least some drivers of cars decide that taking the car out is really not worth it. Whatever it is it’s always enjoyable while it lasts. In London for the past 15 years or so we’ve had hardly any significant snow. I think the last time we had anything substantial, lasting more than a day or so, was in the late 80s when the school was regularly closed early in the winter so that the staff could manage to get home in time to set off for work again the next morning. In the late 70s I remember spending a couple of winters hurtling down Parliament Hill on a toboggan. It would be nice to have lots of snow in London again. I know it screws everything up but I love going for long walks and take a perverse pleasure in riding the bicycle to work in it.
1 Although admittedly that journey was non-stop from London to Crewe whereas the current one stops twice along the way. Such is further progress.
Posted 26 December 2004, 14:36 GMT