The cold weather brings out the best and the worst in people. At the moment, you probably can't move for Facebook updates about heroic journeys into work or valiant battles with the central heating. We all deal with these things in different ways.
The cat, for example, wakes me at four every morning to inform me that it is still cold. Considering that Cat has stolen entire duvet, this seems a bit rich. Especially as Cat then sticks its head out of the cat flap, drains all the heat from the flat, and then posts itself back under the duvet. As I said, we all deal with these things differently.
It does seem to be an excuse to go and stand at train stations screaming at staff. At Kings Cross this morning I overheard a woman railing "But I have to go to my cousin's funeral. It's so inconsiderate of you". I mean, seriously, what? Apart from anything else, it's plain common sense that shouting at ticketing staff isn't really going to make four foot of snow go away. A couple stood at a window, pounding on the glass and swearing. I mean, really, why? It would perhaps be excusable if staff weren't going out of the their way to be helpful, working the queues, and generally being as friendly as slightly-too-polite Aunt Sally at a wedding.
I am currently working anywhere other than the flat. Yesterday I swapped the British Library for Camden Library, which was a mistake. The building sweated desperation and failure, miserable staff being constantly berated by weird people, all holding more-than-three Sainsbury's bags stuffed with bits of paper that they'd painstakingly unfurl at any moment. When I was a kid I wanted to be a librarian (lots of arranging books in the right order - how brilliant). Not any more.
Today I tried a coffee shop (yeah, way to rock the cliche - writing on a laptop in Costa). Oddly, a coffee shop is where the worst of humanity gathers in a smug. The staff all the have same panicked look that Lee from Steps wore throughout his time with the group, as though they're trapped in a nightmare working as baristas even though they've never made a cup of coffee before in their lives. The customers are worse. Putting me to one side there was....
1) Haughty lady who had brought her own sandwiches and was eating them under the table as though it was The Perfect Crime.
2) Two students planning a trip using a university travel grant. "Oh yeah, and what we'll do is we'll get Prakash to do the final proposal for us as he is very creative and will do whatever I ask him to. Now I think we should say here that we're walking the whole route, but in fact we'll just sit on that beach, yeah?"
3) Sensitive Girl. You know her - rainbow-jumper, lots of dolphin jewelry, skin paler than rice pudding, bag made of velvet. "Hi, I just wanted to check - I've a nut allergy, so will the caramel syrup be okay?" Pause. "Cos caramel's a nut, isn't it?"
Finally there are the loos in coffee shops. Getting in requires all the agility of a text-based adventure game from the 80s ("Get RECEIPT from CAROL. Go NORTH to BASEMENT. Use CODE on DOOR. Do not TOUCH any surfaces"). Once you're there it is a little bit like breaking in to Fort Knox to discover all the gold has gone. And there's just a puddle of wee and a really horrible smell.