Monday, 14 January 2013

Apparently it snowed

You wouldn't know it from the way every damn person on your various social media collectively lost their minds and ran around taking pictures with their camera phones and exclaiming with glee that actual freaking water was coming out of the sky except colder than normal. 

For me, it was a terrific pain in the arse. Journeys are made continually more difficult by snow in the UK; I have foreign readers so it's quite hard to explain the reaction of the British transport system to snow. I shall try. If you imagine that overnight every single engine in every single vehicle across the entire country suddenly changed into a sugar cube, you have some idea of the confusion and mayhem that reigns across this little island when two centimeters of snow falls from the sky.

In any case, I was journeying up to Loughborough to meet an old friend; a flying visit, but I've been meaning to see her for a long time and the wedding proved to be an ideal opportunity. Those photos will, unfortunately, remain private for the moment (an awkwardness around their bosses' opinions of interdepartmental relationships), but I would really like to share very quickly the cake that my mother made:


So that's pretty.

In any case, I arrived at the university last night and we kicked back and caught up; introductions were made and apparently my reputation preceded me - as my friend tapped away at her essay, her flatmate with boyfriend in tow asked for my help with a verbal reasoning test. The test was part of the now-standard battery given to anyone hoping to apply for an internship in any sort of organisation, and while I'm not convinced of their efficacy, it is always a pleasure to pit my mind against the examiners.

We bashed through it with 56 seconds to spare, and I'd like to say that I helped as little as I could - most of the work came from the man himself. A nice guy, built - as all the chaps at Loughborough seem to be - like a brick outhouse, and a bit Welsh. Not too much, but noticeably so - although perhaps I sounded a bit English to him. In any case, I hope he's got it; he seems smart enough but he's basically honest while the questions are designed to be sneaky and catch out normal people.

I wound my way back to my friend's and caught sight of the first few flakes of snow puffing against the window. We stood and watched it fall for a while, and then retired to bed to watch Brave, which I have to roundly recommend to anyone who likes Disney movies, Scottish accents, red hair or any combination thereof. If you are expecting anything other than a 90-minute movie with a solid moral message, a lovely bit of character growth and an extremely well-animated, personality-infused bear then this may not be for you - but as something to chuckle to as snow falls outside and you huddle together for warmth, then it's worth a watch.

We separated to sleep - her flatmate had taken the hit and volunteered to sleep with her boyfriend so that there would be a spare bed, what a trooper - and woke early, so that I could have a chance to look around the campus and partake of the delights of lunch. I have to say that for uni food it was pretty good, and much better priced than my own canteen. She and I ran into a couple of old faces, until we wound up back in her room and watching Africa. 

Now I have no, or hardly any, access to iPlayer from France, so I have missed the most recent glorious example of BBC nature programming. It is, as has been vaunted many times before, filmed at the animals' eye levels, which adds a very odd angle to it - it certainly humanises the animals, although all birds seem to stare at one in the same way that a Glaswegian with eight pints of Tennent's best inside him does. Especially if one uses "one" in everyday speech, even if the context is the correct one.

There was a slightly panicked moment as I turned her room upside down until we realised I'd not had an umbrella when I arrived, and a solid twenty minutes of nervous waiting for me when I arrived and realised that the train I had expected at 2pm did not, in fact, exist. There was a train twenty minutes before, and a train twenty minutes after, but a train on the hour there was not. Considering my Eurostar departed a mere fifteen minutes after the expected arrival time of this train, and French customs had stopped me to go through bags at an agonisingly slow rate before, my nails had been bitten to the quick and I was about to start on the knuckles when we pulled into London.

I made it - obviously - but the sooner the British transport system gets over its fear of snow, the better.