Saturday, 18 December 2010

walking in a winter wonderland

The morning started with me refusing to wake up properly - after all, I didn't get in until about 1:30. A night out to celebrate the end of term with my colleagues. The warnings were coming in thick and fast about the weather - it was going to spread across the whole country.  The sad news of Captain Beefheart's demise came through too.  Although not a huge fan, I had seen him live at least once - in Stevenage(!) of all places.  I may have seen him at Reading too, but I think I'm probably mistaken. Let us not forget the fact that he is the man who introduced the World to Ry Cooder.  His like will never be seen in these parts again.

I may also be mistaken - but I think I may be eventually proved right here - that the good Captain recorded a version of "Walking in a Winter Wonderland".  I've tried Googling it - the phrase comes up connected to himself but there seems no proof of an actual recording.  I'm sure someone out there will let us know.

9 o'clock this evening
We went to Ipswich to do some Christmas shopping, keeping an eye on the weather - the threats were real enough but this is Suffolk, after all. Too close to the sea and all that. So we shopped and before we dropped (keeping the Capt Beefheart/Ry Cooder theme going here), we came home.  On the way home, the traffic news came on to let us know that Essex was covered. Back by 4-ish.  Within an hour our son came home complaining about the weather.  We checked, and yes, the snow was falling  with all the force the radio had promised. So, the freezing fingers of cruel December were beginning to clutch at our far eastern coast.

This is all well and good - after all, we can turn the heating up or light a fire.  So I set off to the kitchen to make dinner whilst Mrs Dave put a few more Yuletide declarations up.  I had promised to make sure that dinner was over and done with by 7 o'clock as Strictly Come Dancing - the Final was on.  No major problems there.  Dinner over - I even offered to clear up.

And then disaster struck.  Mrs Dave entered the kitchen whilst I was trying to see if it was possible to scrape any more out of an empty bottle of Shiraz with a look of sheer despondency upon her visage.

"What is wrong, beloved?"

"Bloody satellite reception has gone."

"Ah, so no Strictly then?" he said smugly.

Not a good idea.  Perhaps having not followed this (or any) series, I had no idea of the sheer impact of this momentous statement.

Hmm . . . perhaps the snow was covering the dish? Before any real panic settled in (not on my part) we thought it best to see if the neighbours could still receive Sky.  No, they couldn't.  They also informed us that this happened last year when it snowed too. The more astute members of the readership can see where this one's heading, can't you?

"Oh great - so I can't watch the finals, then?"

I have a plan.  Despite it being all crisp and deep and even. By the way, the neighbours kindly invited Mrs Dave in to watch it as they seem to be able to get Terrestrial tv (of course, we can't - probably my fault, too).

So, I'm out on the flat roof at 7 o'clock in the dark with the snow falling with a step ladder and brush clearing the snow off of our, and the neighbour's, satellite dishes. I'd stopped my son going out to the pub to help me.  "Oh is this to prove to mum that if it doesn't work I witnessed you going out there?"

"No, it's so you can call the bloody ambulance if I fall off the roof."

"Oh, ok."

Anyway - it worked.  It bloody well worked.

I settled down to watch a documentary on the making of the National Theatre's version of War Horse in between rounds of SD.  Guess what?  "I'm beginning to suspect that the snow is building up again - the picture is digitallising."

So, 9 o'clock and I'm back on the roof with a brush clearing the snow off of the satellite dish. Honestly, the things I do for a quiet life.  Not once, but twice. Twice.

Anyway, if I'd have thought about it I should have taken a photo from the roof.  I'm sure my friend Mike would have - mind you, he wouldn't be on his roof in the dark in a snow storm anyway.  So we'll have to put up with the shot from the front door. Let's face it, you wouldn't send a dog out on a night like this.

Just a husband with a step ladder and a hand brush.

The things we do for love . . .

. . . and from behind the house later


Mike C. said...

You're darn tootin' he wouldn't get on a roof in a snowstorm to restore access to "Strictly" after a bottle of Shiraz... Mind, we're blessed with (a) cable and (b) a proper pitched roof.

Since the advent of "Strictly" and its like, I have escalated my TV strike, so far unnoticed by the media. I sit in the kitchen while the Prof and the offspring hoot and holler in the front room. The thought of Widdecombe in spangles makes my gorge rise...

Snow not too bad here, but enough to feel smug about having done a precautionary Friday night shop.


Dave Leeke said...

Yes, I can't even bring myself to mention her name - she has such an ugly voice I used to turn the radio off when she came on "Today".

Glad to hear the snow's not too bad down there, as second born is travelling back from an academic conference in Bristol as I write, to get top work by 2:30. She has a Christmas job in Monsoon in your favourite shopping centre.

So did the good Captain record "Walking in a Winter Wonderland" or was that just a bizarre dream from years ago?

Mike C. said...

"Winter Wonderland"? Not to my knowledge (which doesn't go very far) but I can't see anything on the "Radar Station" discography, either.

Bizarre dream, I think. On a par with the one I had where Bob Dylan released a Christmas album, ha!


Kent Wiley said...

Dave, you are being seriously diplomatic to go up on the roof in a snow storm - TWICE - to clear off the dish so that Mrs. Dave can watch "Strictly." I've had to look up the reference, but it looks "Strictly Awful." We've got something similar, I think it's "Dancing with the Stars," and I wouldn't go near it without the threat of death. I would be hard pressed to restore a broadcast link during a snow storm. You've earned some serious pointage on the home front, I should think.

Dave Leeke said...

Yes, well unbelievably after such a foolhardy selfless act the good lady has just asked if I'd mind going back up to clear it off again "before it gets dark"! I kid thee not. Presumably this will become a regular annual event. Perhaps I should leave a note up there for Santa to clear the snow off of the satellite dish before he comes down the chimney.

However, as we have a window on the third floor that looks out to where the dish is, i was able to check first that the dish is bereft of snow. Thankfully.

Your dancing show sounds remarkably like ours. And as equally awful.

Thankfully, it was the final. Unbelievably 12 million viewers tuned in.

Mike C. said...

"However, as we have a window on the third floor that looks out to where the dish is..."

I'm thinking: another bottle of wine, then tinker with the vacuum cleaner to set it to "blow", and then hang it out the window? It could make an interesting insurance claim (or court case), if nothing else.


Dave Leeke said...

Yes it sounds like a good idea, unfortunately it's a walk of some twenty feet or so. And don't get me started on vacuum cleaners! Oh god, the heartbreak of buying a useless one . . . no, no, it's still too recent and far too painful.

Kent Wiley said...

I'm surprised these dish things haven't got a heating coil in them to keep precipitation from collecting & freezing on them in the first place.

Sounds to me like it's going to become more than an "annual" request to clean off the dish.

Andy Wright said...

Dave,I think you are a hero and I think Mrs. Dave is a very lucky lady I assume that she ensures that the Life insurance (yours) is well up to date! Ironically though, I bet Elf and Safety legislation wouldn't allow you to pick up a dropped pencil without conducting the appropriate risk assessment, (do people still use pencils?) at school, let alone perform a death defying feat to get the TV working again. I thought of you when I caught a glimpse of Ipswich playing Leicester at Portman Road a blizzard.Quite ludicrous really. Got a fair bit of the white stuff here...I actually love it but then I'm not old (quite yet), infirm or obliged to travel to work. My two boys who were out working in the freezing cold last night (and then respectively faced a a two and a half and two hour journey home after finishing their tour of duty at 7am) have a rather different take on 'Winter wonderlands'! 'Oh the Holly and the Ivy....

Andy Wright said...

Ps I reckon in my adult life I have purchased at least twelve vacuum cleaners from Russel Hobbs through Henry,Sebo,Dyson to Vax etc etc All absolutely rubbish despite the many claims that this one REALLY is the absolute DB's.....It's lies, all lies!

Dave Leeke said...


What a lovely idea - Britain would be able to do something so sensible! Given that in the 1940s in the US you had 60% of households using fridges whereas by the 1970s in Britain we still only had 40% of householders owning them - let alone tv use! I can't imagine for one minute that even if the technology was available, we'd be able to do it (heating coils on the dish - snigger, snigger).

The media is full of discussion about how we're going to cope with bad weather (no money, no money, no money) in the future. They're also concerned that if they spend any money on sorting out the future infrastructure and poor weather, it will have been a waste of money if we don't get any bad weather next year.

Should have gone to Specsavers . . . you may have a similar line in American optician's advertising.


How's France? As badly hit by the white stuff?

Can't comment on Ipswich - other than the fact that we got home within an hour of the match starting. Hope your lads got home safely from their tour of duty.

I use pencils all the time - but then, I'm an anachronism anyway!

By the way, Mrs D and I have just downed a bottle of Black Stump - Sunday Times at its best!

Still don't want to talk about vacuum cleaners yet - not this early in the century, anyway.

Kent Wiley said...

Yeah, what gives w/ vacuum cleaners? Why do they have to be so fucking LOUD?

Mike C. said...

Yeah, vacuum cleaners suck... (sorry).


Dave Leeke said...

Astonishingly, Mike, that comment brings a sort of closure in an E. M. Forster only connect sort of way. Sean O'Hagen writes in his appreciation of Captain Beefheart in this Sunday's 'Observer' (I'll quote it fully):

"A short stint as a vacuum cleaner salesman followed in which he toted his wares around the desert communities of Southern California. Once, legend has it, he knocked on the door of a mobile home and none other than Aldous Huxley answered. Beefheart pointed at a vacuum cleaner and said, 'I assure you sir, this thing sucks.' He made his sale."

This brings the matter of the sad news of Captain Beefheart's demise and my escapades in snow to a close.

Unless anyone can prove he recorded "Walking in a Winter Wonderland".