In these chilly isles, the heating is turned on on the first of October, whatever the weather may be doing. The first week of October is therefore generally a week of bright sunshine and soaring temperatures, as thousands of radiators wheeze, drip, bang and cough their way into life.
Not this year, not here. The heating at work may be turned on at the end of the month, if they manage to replace the pipes in time. And several weeks ago, terrified by the price of gas, Chris and I decided to see if we could hold out until November. A decision which I am currently regretting, as the temperature plummets and snow is forecast for the highlands over the weekend.
It's terribly stylish to shiver in three jumpers and wrap oneself in blankets to watch television this year. All the best people are rejoicing in poverty chic, and and discovering "the landgirl look". I wonder how many of them have actually spent a day working outside in January? I have, and it's not a look I particularly want to repeat. Fun as it might be to imagine all the home-made cakes we'll bake, the clothes we'll sew, how we'll gather round the piano and sing our way through the economic crisis, poverty isn't actually much fun when you're doing it. We were very poor when I was growing up, and what I remember most clearly is the number of things I could not do because we couldn't afford them. Poverty restricts, poverty is endless making-do, and not a lot of cashmere loungewear to be had. All the home-made cakes in the world (and sugar is pretty expensive) won't sweeten poverty. So I shall point you at this article by Caitlin Moran, which had me exclaiming at my desk "at last, somebody else knows what it's like".
It's a hot water bottle night, and for the authentic English experience the perished rubber should finally give way in the very small hours of the morning, filling the bed with cold water. Meanwhile the plaster on the ceiling will stop being distressed and become merely defunct, and begin to fall as the gale blows outside. On my face, for choice.