Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

This Giggling Girl Feeds My Optimism

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

This Giggling Girl Feeds My Optimism

Article excerpt


ONE of the few disappointing aspects of life in Southern California, where I spent half the last decade, was the absence of seasons.

The weather went from hot to stifling and back again; roses flowered most of the year and we wore shorts almost every day.

Admittedly, every August brought terrible bush fires; desert winds whipped up the flames and sent clouds of black choking smoke into our back yards.

Then, just when we feared the fires would consume entire communities, the October rains would come: three weeks of continuous downpours sent homes cascading down hillsides in giant mudslides.

Those were our three seasons: Heat, Fire and Mud. How I longed for good old English spring.

Even a few days of our chilly, wet summer would have been welcome; snow would have been miraculous. When I returned to London, though the leaves came and went, the warmth from the city's pollution somehow disguised each season's true identity.

We knew it was summer because there were hosepipe bans; every October our basement would flood in the storms.

Even when we moved back to Northumberland, we were surprised by how mild the seasons were; we had precious little snow for the first two years.

That's why I find this long cold spell particularly gratifying. It's the first time I can remember waking up to a white Christmas, in a proper winter, everything lying dormant and waiting for the warmth of a fresh start. What more appropriate way to start a new decade? I greeted the last one with feigned celebration in an absurdly opulent, overpriced hotel in Mauritius. Despite it being the dawn of a millennium, I sensed no particular global optimism or sense of renewal. It was the most anti-climactic page turn, from one image of certainty to the next. What a difference a decade makes.

From the moment the twin towers collapsed, the safe, overindulgent world we knew began to fall apart, ending with the disintegration of our financial system and the exposure of politicians' greed and corruption. …

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