Louisa Benbow

A Winter’s Tale…

In Greek mythology, the long and short of the Winter season is that Persephone didn’t fancy marrying Hades. He wasn’t put off by the rejection though, he just kidnapped her. Persephone’s mother Demeter got a bit ticked off, so she cast a famine upon the land. Straight from the offset the Winter season is tainted: they are the months Demeter laments her daughter’s absence. If anyone’s going to have a bad name, it should be Demeter for being so bloody hot-headed. Have a listen to the Lighthouse Family, do a Sudoku Demeter, but don’t cast a curse when you’re annoyed. 

I appreciate that when you get to a certain age, weather becomes the dominating topic in the small-talk arena, but recently I’ve been hearing too many people having a pop at Winter. 

The Jewish community prepare for Hannukah, African-Americans await Kwanzaa, Icelanders are eating testicles for Þorrablót and children of Cambridge mentally prepare themselves for the suspension of the Angel mannequins in the Grand Arcade. It would be about this time of year that I’d hibernate into the back pages of the Argos catalogue, jotting the details of the Mr.Frosty Ice Maker and Paul Daniel’s Magic Set onto my Christmas list. (For the Paul Daniel’s fans amongst us; according to his blog, he was in Cambridge a couple of weeks ago sausage-tasting.)

I understand that Winter can’t be accommodating to everyone’s taste. Some people have issues with the short days, you’ll nip into Hotel Chocolat for a free sample and an obligatory browse, and by the time you exit, it’s significantly darker. The Winter weather seems to be an annoyance for a number of people as well. It’s not so much the coldness that bothers me though, the only real nature-related Winter gripe I have is with the abundance of fallen leaves. They’re alright when they’re deliciously crisp, or when they’re an array of colours that you’d attempt to mimic with an ice-cream box full of coloured pencils and the rest of the Year 2 class. It’s when they’re sodden and lurking in hazardous places, such as the steep bit just over the Mill Road bridge: tread on those willy-nilly, and you’ll find yourself grappling with the railings, pretending your elbow hitting the pavement didn’t hurt.

But winter isn’t a complete disaster. For all those lamenting of its less enjoyable sides, you can take these mood-enriching winter observations and shove them in your stocking:


  • I don’t know that it’s exclusively a seasonal thing, but I’ll credit Winter regardless for prompting the female Big Issue vender on St. Andrews street to pop a hoody on her Jack Russell.


  • This Winter I’ve really got into my Tesco’s Summer Fruits squash; I find this somewhat ironic but deliciously tasty, I’ve just polished off another bottle.


  • Christmas, obviously. Shakin’ Stevens belting out ‘Merry Christmas, everyone’ while I’m sauntering around the aisles of Tesco is always a treat. 


  • While it’s quite unpleasant, at the same time there’s nothing like talking to someone who’s blissfully ignorant of their dribbling nose.


  • The Winter months remind me how much I don’t miss seeing people’s holiday snaps on Facebook, awkwardly posed on a balcony, against the backdrop of a generic holiday location, radiating a pink glow. 


  • While you don’t see them as much anymore, I’ll always harbor an appreciation for fleeces. At one point everybody seemed to have a navy fleece, myself included; it’d surface in these cold months and serve me well until at least March, if I overheated in the fleece, I’d just tie it round my waist. That was cool, I think.


  • Cliff Richard is bound to make an appearance – he always does. He spends the best part of the year kicking back with Sue Barker and a couple of games of tennis, but as soon as there’s speak of the Christmas music charts, he’s back.


  • There’s always a lot of good television programmes lined-up for the festive season. (This doesn’t include that distinctly average Vicar of Dibley special). Apparently, Bradley Branning’s returning to Walford at Christmas; I probably speak on behalf of the nation in saying that I would not object to Greengrass of Heartbeat fame returning to the screen, especially if he’s going to put antlers on his dog Alfred again.

I hope that cheered you up. And I hope that you didn’t read this article on the premise that it was based around that chap called Winter, who’s attempting to visit every Starbucks in the world. If you did, I apologise, and am pleased to inform you that at the moment, he’s managed to visit 1344 stores.