The Great Gloom

Saturday February 4, 2006

An ‘anticyclonic gloom’, that’s what they call it. It’s when a large area of high pressure settles over the entire Kingdom and sits there. And sits there. For days and days, sulking, windless and seemingly airless. In summer it brings heat waves. In winter it brings cold. And gloom.

When it becomes apparent that we’re visited with one of these weather features the forecasters, day after day, try to talk up a change, promising an end to the heat, or the cold, or the gloom. Well, you have to hope, don’t you. Me, especially when the gloom settles, I just reckon that whatever the temperature and cloud conditions you have when it starts is what you’re going to blessed with until it finishes.

So, we’ve got a great gloom. Right now. It’s cold, there’s no wind, and the cloud base seems to settle lower and lower every day.

You can imagine old guys sitting over their pints in front of smokey fires in cheerless pubs—chimneys tend not to draw very well in windless conditions—comparing it with other glooms in the past. “Arr. Oi mind the Great Gloom of forty-nine. That were a Gloom to remember.” “Nah, yer’ve forgot the Great Gloom of fifty-six, George.” And so on, as long and as drearily invariant as the gloom itself.

Oh but it’s a nasty cold. The kind that steals into the very marrow of your bones and keeps you fiddling with the thermostat, thinking that it must have gone wrong. And, always, finding that it hasn’t, it’s just your bones that have developed a fault and that all you can do is to don another layer of clothing and pick up a book telling of warmer and sunnier times and places. Coral Island is a good one, along with Peter Duck and My Family and other Animals.

There’s warmth, sun and cheer to be found in them thar books. Which is just as well, because there’s precious little of it here just now.



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