Unlike countries in continental Europe, where domestic windows tend to open inwards, British homes usually have windows that open outwards, so they generally can’t be cleaned from inside and a ladder is needed to do the upstairs windows. This provides interesting career opportunities for window cleaners in the UK, and a cheery band most of them are. A popular song in the nineteen-forties was “When I’m cleaning windows” by George Formby, and the lyrics might give some insight into the reasons for the cheeriness of the average window cleaner.
Our regular happy chappy came by on Tuesday, as the first clouds were moving into our area. There are certain portents of approaching bad weather well known to housewives: hanging your washing out is one, cleaning windows is another. So we knew the fine days were over and resigned ourselves to April showers.
What hit us, though, was not an April shower. We woke to freezing temperatures on Wednesday, which was wild, wet and windy just as the weather woman had predicted (see my comments on alliterative meteorologists), and saw fluffy, feathery flakes of snow swirling around among the driving rain. The rain poured down all day long, and the snow continued for several hours, but we were more fortunate than other parts of the country where the snow stuck and stayed. Ours melted as it landed, but the wind chill factor certainly made it feel like below zero. We thanked the Lord for our efficient central heating – having also heard that 50,000 homes in the areas most badly stricken by the snow were without power – and stayed indoors.
This morning it is still cold but the rain has now stopped, the sun has forced its way through the clouds, and the windows do actually look a bit cleaner. The darling buds of April have survived, and the garden glows fresh and green.
Again, we are more fortunate than many others:
owing to the lack of rain and the dry winters in the past two years, there is a large area of the UK now subject to a hosepipe ban. No wonder the weather is an inexhaustible topic of conversation in this country!