2013 – At Least It Can’t Get Wetter


WHEN I was much younger, if I ever thought I would live to see such a far-distant time, I probably imagined 2013 would find me floating in a space station, sucking leftover Christmas dinner concentrate from tubes.

By 2013 technology would have conquered all. The weather – for those of us who might spend a bit of time on the planet’s surface – would always be whatever we wanted it to be. Sunny but not too hot during the day, raining only at night to water the abundant crops.

In reality, I saw the new year dawn in a converted stable in rural Sussex. Never mind 2013, it could have been 1813. Days spent sloshing through the muddy fields. Lunch of homemade soup in warm country pubs. Evenings curled up in front of a log fire reading, with a glass of local ale close to hand.

I know I risk coming out of some kind of eccentricity closet here, but I confess I can’t understand the seasonal rush to the airports. Those who flee Britain in order to cram in a few days in a tourist resort somewhere warm leave behind an England that takes on a special charm in the dead days around new year. It’s a time when it feels natural to step aside from the clamour of normal life, to slow down and focus on simpler things.

Outside the cities the land is often bleached white by frost or snow, the leafless trees skeletal against ashen sky. This year of course, it wasn’t cold enough for that. Instead we had a continuation of the 2012 theme tune for Britain: rain followed by, er, more rain.

In Sussex, up in the hills, the footpaths were surprisingly firm, owing to the chalk underneath the soil, which drained even the Biblical quantities of rain we’ve had recently. But down in the valley many of the fields around our farmhouse hidey-hole were flooded, giving our surroundings a Ballardian end of the world feel. But if you live in Britain you can’t put life on hold while you wait for perfect weather. You just have to get togged up and get out there. Which is what we did, through delightful boggy fields, across wet hillsides and under dripping trees.

Here is the road that lay between our cottage and the nearest pub, the cosey George and Dragon Inn, in Burpham. P1010343

It was fun navigating that in the evening, once total darkness descended after four thirty.

Obviously we were not put off.

Boots on, torch at the ready and a happy new year to you all.


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