I knew that I had been shut up in the apartment for too long when a trip to the dentist sounded like a fun day out! Jeff and I had both been sick with the flu for about 2 weeks but were feeling better when our long ago scheduled dental checkups rolled around. Jeff kept asking “Do you think we should cancel?” But, I wouldn’t hear of it, I was looking forward to a day in London and getting out of the apartment. The weatherperson was predicting snow and freezing temperatures but even that didn’t scare me. When we finished up at the dentist’s office around 11.30 it was indeed snowing – snow mixed with freezing rain and COLD temperatures.
When I go out in the cold, I dress for it – some might say I even overdo it a bit, wearing at least 3 layers of clothing under a long down coat, hat, scarf, gloves and boots. The only exposed skin is around my eyes and nose and I would happily cover that if I could figure out how to do it and still be able to see and breathe. So, I am always amazed at the number of people that we see on the streets in freezing temperatures either with a very light coat or none at all. And I am not talking about the homeless or those who are too poor to buy a coat. I am talking about the “tough” British person who can go out in 0 degrees with a t-shirt on and maybe a scarf around the neck. And no matter how cold it is, it seems that there is always at least one man out in shorts, his bare legs braving the weather.
The most notorious winter short-wearers are the British postmen. It seems that there are competitions to see who can wear their shorts the longest into winter and some postmen have actually gone years without ever bringing out the long trousers. They give many reasons for this: Some say that it is refreshing and some say that bare legs are more comfortable than water-soaked trousers, but I think it might be just for the round of drinks they could win and the “admiration” of the public for their hardiness.
But I guess the barelegged postmen aren’t really so surprising when you consider British school uniform history. Up until about the 1960s, it was fairly common for boys up to age 13 to be required to wear shorts all year round. Today, there are still some schools that require shorts in winter and others where it is optional. So my theory is that the men wearing shorts in winter must have been little boys who were forced to trudge bare-legged through the snow on their way to school, their poor little legs must have frozen and lost all feeling, and now they just aren’t bothered by the cold. Brrrr! I think I will pull up my woolly socks, sit by the radiator and have a hot chocolate.
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