“Your hell is in the summer, and you blossom in the spring. September is your purgatory. Christmas is your heaven and when the stinking streets of summer are washed away by rain — at the end of a lonely street, that’s where you lose your pain.” — Shane MacGowan
By Arti Behan
For a semi-incoherent, complete drunk, Shane MacGowan (The Pogues) was/is incredibly articulate. His words will grab you by the throat and whisper sweet lullabies in your ear which intoxicate like a fine whiskey. And, in the case stated above, his words strike a heart string and are greeted with nods of approval within and from this Antipodean.
There was a collective groan which rang out across Clapham, Shepherd’s Bush, Fulham, and all the Australian ghetto’s when the extended death rattle of summer finally kicked and October temperatures sank to where they belong.
The cold cool kiss blew down from the north and Australians London-wide popped their collars in a show of defiance and questioned their residency, armed with thoughts of home.
Well, I hope those fading memories keep them warm, because temperatures in the coming days are forecast to sink not just to, but below, seasonal norms, and as October moves to November and December still – well you know what happens… and if you don’t… it gets bloody cold.
Not cold like that time in Brisbane when you had to wear long pants AND a jumper all day and it was still freezing. No, it gets so cold here that your bones hurt and the wind, as my dear mother puts it, is lazy i.e. it goes straight through you because it can’t be bothered going around.
But, I embrace it and I suggest you do, too. This is London at Her best. She is a cruel mistress and like all good cruel mistresses, She has a perfect grasp of how to inflict just enough pain to make the pleasure seem all the better.
I welcome Her sharp, cold, unforgiving and sadistic kiss. Granted, it’s not the warm, lusty, lazy breath of Australia down your sweaty neck. But, if you want that — go home. She doesn’t need nor want you. Lie on your Aussie leather couch with the sliding glass windows closed while recycled stale air filters through your remote controlled air-conditioning unit set at 23 degrees Celsius. Or, stay here, pull up a bar stool, order an ale and feel Her cold, crippling presence seep through the window frames, demanding you put that jacket back on because that boiler is no match for Her.
Just embrace it. This is the real London. This is the weather which inspired so much greatness. The weather that crafted the English culture. The weather which demands and draws attention from Perth to Brasilia, California to Paris, Berlin to Cairo. This is London at Her worst but at Her best.