It’s getting ridiculous. I have now done every possible thing there is to do in a cold climate. Roasted chickens. Perfected gravy. Sledded down a snowy hill clutching a small German child. Been mildly disturbed by a Christmas tree hung with axe handles. Built a snowman. Visited a grandmother. Had my snowman-making skills disparaged by a small German child. Stewed Bramley apples. Watched The Wire, Mesrine and Zoolander. Boiled smoked pork hock with beans. Eaten my own body weight in porridge. Sat in too many hot baths. Read Wolf Hall. Had a traumatic woolly-sock related accident, skidding down a wooden staircase on my backside and taking out a banister at the bottom (really not a nice way to wake up). Made beef stew, lamb stew and chicken noodle soup. Lovingly attended to a swine flu victim. Skidded down icy footpaths. Eaten too many fry-ups, and too much marzipan.
And I’m now at a standstill. It’s no longer funny. It’s frankly at the point where, if I didn’t have a living to earn, I would lie down in bed, pull the blankets over my head and emerge in three months. I am weary of stew, doorstop novels and typing in fingerless gloves. Please, enough already, just give me a sunny beach, a green cordial and a Marian Keyes novel (except that she has succumbed to depression herself according to her website; I do hope she is feeling better soon).
But wait. What is that I spy in the window of that African shop near Ridley Road market? Yes. Yes. It’s a tin of Milo. Chocolatey, vitamin-packed Milo. I go in and ask for a tin, and for a moment he doesn’t know what I’m on about – he pronounces it to rhyme with ‘pillow’, not with a long hard iiiii like the Aussies say it. I hand over some cash, then take it home (almost wrote ‘hope’) and mix it up – five teaspoons of Milo in the mug, a couple in the mouth while the water boils, then some milk. It’s darker and sweeter than Australian Milo, but no less delicious. If it’s a lone, meagre little straw, then I’m clutching it.
If anyone wants to try Milo – it really does help, and it’s sort of good for you – it’s available in Afro-Caribbean shops; there’s quite a few around Ridley Road and one at the Hackney end of Graham Road. And any other suggestions for coping with this grisly tail end of winter will be gratefully received.