Soak of rain as taxis swish by you and drench your darned stockings; long walk home in the drizzly gloom; fruitless wait by the shared phone in the hall for your lover to telephone; no milk, no money, no coal, no hope.
... can bloody well just about sort itself out, frankly. It's wet, grey, slushy, icy and downright miserable. After almost a week of feeling like someone in the inter-war years, I am losing my grip on the present. We have been housebound, bar the odd granny-shuffle down the icy hill for bread and milk. The Colonel has a horror of powdered milk, so much of the days have been spent mapping routes to the most likely milk-sources and preparing for lengthy ration-like queues therein. We've had to clear out the freezer and have been eating old-fashioned fare like chops and sausages. The bots are studying the 1930s at school and wondered before Christmas if they could 'try' bread and margarine for tea like the depressive bedraggled herione of their textbook. Ha, they wonder no longer as the butter supplies have dried up since lorries can't get to our shops.
I haven't quite been darning, but I have been making cushions, huddled round the fire. I have also cleared out everyone's wardrobes, de-pilled my jerseys by hand with a razor, turned my shelves into a Bennetton shop, matched every sock in the house and baked scones. We've played board games and read a LOT. We've drunk gallons and gallons of tea, had endless discussions about the weather and listened to the wireless. Now we ALL live in the 1930s.
Despite us all now being back at work and school, I am reluctant to leave my happy gas-lit world of make-believe. So I am re-reading, as I often do at this gloomy time of year, the ultimate feel-ghastly book The Weather in the Streets by Rosamond Lehmann.
Her own story is pretty good, including an affair with Cecil Day-Lewis, the spineless Poet Laureate. She also wrote the iconic Dusty Answer and Invitation to the Walz, both imperative reading for any girl on the cusp of adulthood.
This one is just for dark, tending-to-depressive, when-will-the-winter-ever-end misery-lovers like me. Olivia, the herione of Invitation to the Waltz, is back. Ten years on with a failed mariage behind her she meets again, in proper Brief Encounter fashion, the caddish bounder Rollo. On a train. With lots of smoking and tea in proper cups. He breaks her heart all over London and in expensive motor cars and cheap 30s motels. She bravely washes out her stockings by hand, drifts about being brave yet teary, eking out her chilly existence shilling by careful shilling while Rollo, shining with Brilliantined hair and too-wide smiles, lives a life of great luxury. It's tragically predictable, but oh, so exquisitely written. It's like spending a week in an early David Lean film; clenched, terse declarations of love, much holding back of tears and gazing blindly out of greasy bus windows.
If you're feeling brisk and modern, stay away. You'll just shout at the book or throw it in the fire.
On the other hand, if you're anything like me, you'll wallow in it and appear red-eyed for tea and bread and margarine, scratching hopefully about for a shilling to put in the gas meter. Bliss.