Monday, October 30, 2006


Last week I was having a conversation with a relative who still lives in South Africa. I made the comment to her that when considering relocating and choosing between the Northern and Southern hemispheres, she should not under estimate the impact weather has on our lives.

This made me remember two stories that I want to share with you. They run the risk of falling flat as they might prove to be like, “You had to have been there” jokes – but I’ll do my best to communicate the humor of both moments.

South African weather made me believe that when you look out the window and see a clear blue sky and the sun is shining, the temperature will be warm. If this happened in the winter, you would need a light sweater at most.

After a very short time in London, we awoke on a Sunday morning and were thrilled to see just that. A blue sky, sunshine and yes, it wasn’t raining. We got ourselves dressed, called a cab and headed for the mall so that we could go to the supermarket.

The genius cab driver dropped up off and drove off. Very quickly we noticed there were just a few cars in the parking lot. DanDan went ahead of me, came back and said, “It’s closed on Sundays.” For those readers who have not been through a relocation process, this might be hard to relate to. For those who have, you will understand what I mean when I say that in that split second, I had my relocation breakdown.

I looked at Dan and said, “What do you mean it is closed?”

“Well, the doors are locked, there are no cars in the parking, it is closed. C.L.O.S.E.D on Sundays.”

“Why the fuck did that cab driver not tell us it was closed when we gave him the address when we got into his car?”

“I don’t know, Dawn.”

“Well all I know is that I am freezing my ass off and I am seriously questioning what the fuck we are doing here and I want to go home … and no, I don’t mean home as in the home that I can get to by means of a cab ride – I mean the HOME … – SOB, SOB, SOB, SOB AND MORE SOB. WITH EACH SOB I CAN FEEL MYSELF LOSING MY GRIP ON LIFE. THE SHEER PANIC OF THIS FEELING MADE MY SPEECH INCREASE IN BOTH SPEED AND VOLUME QUITE DRAMATICALLY.

…I mean the HOME where when the sun is shining and the sky is blue, it is frigging well warm – you know, that thing called W.A.R.M – even in W.I.N.T.E.R.” SOB, SOB, SOB, AND MORE SOB

Although early on in our marriage, DanDan realized that these freak outs of mine happen very rarely, but when they do, best to just give me the space to get it out of my system. I sobbed just a little bit more, and then arm in shivering arm, we headed off to the nearest cafĂ© for an English fry-up. As we shivered our way down the sidewalk, DanDan whispered to me in the shakiest of shiveriest voices, “You’re right, it is fucking cold and this weather sucks – but we are home, so we better get used to it.”

Just a month or so later, on another Sunday morning, we awoke to very gloomy weather. Grey sky, constant depressing mist of rain and very cold temperatures. We had slept late and when we got up, DanDan went into the kitchen to create some of his magic. At around 1.30pm we sat down and enjoyed a grand DanDan lunch.

This took place in December 2003 - (oops, thanks Ann, wrong year, should read 1993) so I am sorry, but I really don’t remember what the menu was. After the meal, we rolled on to the couch and spent the day curled up under the duvet watching movies and TV.

Much later on, I got up and said to Dan that I was going to take a bath; get into my pj’s and prepare for an early night. He thought this was a great idea and that he would do the same. As we were both still getting acclimatized, we walked around the house in winter looking like Mr and Mrs Michelin. I was in sweat pants with thick socks, layers of t-shirts and sweat shirts. Dan used to prance around in white thermal underwear looking very Nureyev-esque. I found the socks pulled way up over the long thermals particularly flattering.

As I crawled back on to the couch and back under the duvet, Dan rubbed his hands together and said that he was clearly in the mood to cook that day and he was going to make us yet another sumptuous meal.

“What would you like for supper?” he asked.

“Ooooo, I don’t know – all I know is I am starving and anything you make will be delicious.”

He was heading over to the window to close the curtains. It was totally dark outside and as he was pulling the curtains across the window, he said to me, “You know, it’s a good thing we bathed early. Guess what the time is?”

“I have no clue.” I said.

“Just as well we’re ready for bed so we can eat and have an early night – it’s 4.30pm”

Oh my goodness, did we laugh. Not only had we only finished lunch no more than two hours earlier, but we realized what a long way we still had to go getting used to our new place on the planet and how the weather worked.