The snow is melting. I switched the heaters off yesterday in the greenhouse and conservatory, and was relieved today when I got up to see that the Met Office had got it right, and the temperature was already comfortably above freezing. The thaw is maddeningly slow, though, and there are still great patches of wet slush covering the gravel, borders, ivy hedges, lawns, and practically everything else in the garden that I'd like to work on.
The newspapers have been debating whether or not the cold snap will be enough to push the UK into a triple dip recession. My initial reaction was that of course foul weather hits economic activity. We cancelled our pub lunch last weekend, and there are lots of people, from the roofer on the news (can't do people's roofs in this weather) to the spate of gardeners on Ken Bruce's Popmaster (ditto), who have not been able to get on with their jobs.
Then I began to wonder how much economic activity had been lost for all time, versus deferred or displaced. After all, our lunch has not actually been cancelled, but rescheduled for early March. True, tables left unfilled last weekend can't be filled retrospectively, but perhaps when we finally go the pub will be busier than it would have been otherwise. Maybe the roofers and gardeners will end up doing the same amount of work in total during 2013, but doing more of it in the summer, when they might have preferred shorter working weeks, and taking an enforced holiday now.
Certainly being stuck indoors only a mouse click away from Amazon and the Boden catalogue has pushed up my level of consumption from where it would have been given milder weather. If I'd had a solid week's gardening I reckon my total expenditure would probably have been twenty pounds' worth of well rotted manure. Maybe double that if things were going well and I had time to go back for a second car load. As it is I have ordered three books, two CDs, some jeans and a cardigan.
Seasonal Spanish Food arrived today, and looks promising. It's by the owner of Brindisa, whose Borough Market outlet I used to visit when I saw more of my former City colleagues, and the food was always very good. The book reviewed well. Large numbers of new copies have started to appear in the on-line remainder bins, which is normally the point to strike. I held off for too long with some of the titles on my wish list, and saw prices rise again when the glut passed. A paperback copy of An Omelet and a Glass of Wine which was described as new has a signature inside the front cover and a distinctly shelf worn look, and would have been more accurately described as used but in good condition with no annotations. That's the trouble with Amazon book vendors. If I were spending a lot of money I'd go direct to a specialist I trusted, but for a fiver I can't be bothered to make too much of a fuss.
The beguilingly titled How to Tune a Fish is from a Northern Irish band Beoga. I bought another of their CDs on the strength of hearing one track on the Radio 2 folk programme back in the reign of Mike Harding, and it was great fun. I am optimistic that the Systems Administrator will enjoy How to Tune a Fish, whereas I know that Philip Glass's violin concerto will have to be a solitary pleasure. The SA's response at being expected to sit through the whole of that would be comparable to my feelings at being asked to watch the whole of a Grand Prix. You know intellectually that other people enjoy these things, but imaginatively you have no idea why. Philip Glass has not arrived yet.
The cardigan looks very hopeful. It is in merino wool, a splendid and hard wearing, non-pilling fibre that has gone infuriatingly out of fashion. I ordered it to go with a dress I bought last year, that has a pattern of rose pink, off-white, dark blue and duck egg green on a greyish blue ground, and turned out to be utterly impossible to match to anything. I spent half an infuriating day trawling the length of Oxford Street trying to find any jacket or cardigan that matched the colours in that dress. Indeed, most of the cardigans I looked at were designed with such skinny arms that they obviously weren't meant to be worn over anything that already had sleeves. I have no idea why the jackets in last year's Boden catalogue seemed to be designed with no reference whatsoever to the colour or style of their dresses, or why most shops cling to the fiction that we never need an outer layer for warmth over our dresses in the rainy and windy season that passes for the English summer. Blue is a notoriously difficult colour to reproduce, and I was not at all confident about matching the dress to a cardigan only seen on-line, but I have draped the cardigan over the dress on a hanger and it seems OK. I need to see the colours together in daylight, and will try it on tomorrow morning when the bedroom is a little warmer, since I don't really fancy peeling off my two layers of fleece now.
The jeans were a compromise between ambition and necessity, since I am slightly fatter than I was before Christmas, but down to one pair of very tired ones from Marks and Spencer. My legs could be more streamlined than they are, but I don't think they are very likely to drop an entire dress size from here, so I might as well order new trousers now rather than in two months time, when I will still be the same size, give or take, and the only remaining stock will be in horrible colours in size 6 or 16.