Big Chill brings out Serious Blanket

There's this nice old cove I keep bumping into who must be pushing 90 and is reed slim, from walking about two hours a day he proudly told me.

I spotted him yesterday in great spirits, very cock-a-hoop to be liberated from indoors for the first time since the big dump.

He might be fit, he said, but he knows his bones are as fragile as the finest of china and he wasn't going to risk a hip replacement or a cracked rib.

I told him how much I was enjoying the snow and he said: "Ah yes, it's like a pretty but shallow woman, very exciting the first night but a bit annoying the next day".

"My God you're right," I said hoping not to sound too Sapphic, impressed that this AOB (Amazing Old Bugger) appreciated women of character and depth.

I suppose that might be the one and only benefit of old age, the getting of wisdom as I imagined him as a not-so callow and handsome youth flirting with a series of shallow but pretty women of Jean Harlow ilk, enticing them back to his lair only to eject them unceremoniously the next morning out into the freeze of the snow.

Speaking of cold hard sex, during my inch-like walks in the icy terrain, how wonderful to witness the dippy joy of adult snow virgins who've never seen it before leaping about and firing snowballs at each other with the biggest of silly grins on their dials.

Who would have thought that those living here for the past few years are old hands at it now, take it in our tiny geisha strides and get out the shovels to rest at the backdoor to beat a path, and bash the snow off branches to stop them snapping from the sheer weight of it.

Unfortunately, Benecio has been a real pussy in choosing not to navigate his way though the cat flap and out into the sheltered dirt box in the porch, instead leaving a lake of urine on the bathroom floor that his owner stepped into with her bare feet.

I suppose it could have been worse and he had relieved himself on the carpet leaving that appalling pungent odour to hang about for weeks.

It was noted that this year's batch of snow was different from last, with large, straight down flakes as God tried out his latest head 'n' shoulders, anti-dandruff shampoo and we copped it down on terra firma, or non firma in our case.

Thank you Old Bucky from refraining from seismic activity and kicking us when we were down, and thank heavens the heat pump didn't throw a wobbly and pack a sad.

But even with it throbbing away on the day that yielded the coldest temperature on record, I felt as if the personal plant was shutting down and had to get out The Serious Blanket, the heavy wool one with the Kiwi embroidered in the corner, inherited from the grandparents.

With the invention of duvets the hard-working blanket is a dying breed.

A friend boasts of an ancient army blanket with two black stripes running down it that dates back to World War I, that his great aunt Ethel made with the surname stitched across it, that is now used in his household as an under- blanket.

What history that now thinnest of coverings must hold, as still in harness, it keeps earning its keep.

Even though it's been glacial I still remember the winters of my childhood being colder - warming up the school shirt in front of the kitchen fire before donning it, and in the boarding-school years sleeping in the uniform without the kilt, to rise at 6am and bore the inhabitants of the house with the desultory sound of piano scales.

My front window is like a picture postcard and when the sun has come out what a sight for sore eyes to watch the big white and hear all the strange sounds the snow brings with it - the crunch under foot, the creak of branches before they snap, the fall of drifts as they slobber off the roof.

The occasion calls for classical music, a Chopin etude tinkering quietly in the background to enhance the visuals and appreciate that peculiar but enjoyable melancholy that comes with snow.

And when it melts and you see the steam rise off it, to get out the vulgar odium that is Deep Purple to find the foot- stomping lyric that seems to sum it up, "smoke on the water, fire in the sky".

On Friday I took a frozen chook out of the freezer (duh, where else would it come out of?) and noticed it took over a day to thaw.

There is overcrowding going on in that small compartment and it occurs to take advantage of the front lawn and bury the meat and vege in the snow.

"How very Injun," a chum says at the suggestion.

Just call me Dances with Peas.

The Press