Saturday, 19 November 2016
Except when it comes to me and the shedding of my outer garments. This evening for example at about 9:30 she restrained me from removing my shirt, I having without restraint removed my jumper at approximately 9 pm. I was under strict orders not to take off my trousers, or there'd be hell to pay.
I am decidedly an homeotherm, whereas the missus is incredibly poikilothermic. For most of the year this extreme in our temperaments isn't a problem, past the autumn equinox, however, thermo- nuclear war breaks out. It's mad, but it can't be helped.
The boiler which has be quiescent from May through to mid October is suddenly fired up. The open fire so decorously filled with flowers and Neal's Yard's "Bergamot and Patchouli" reed diffuser perfume is then stacked high with kindling and coals and set alight. Gaps in the windows, door jams and air bricks, which in warmer climes allowed a cooling breeze to suffuse our cottage are blocked up and the building hermetically sealed.
Each day the open fire, fuelled with the most expensive smokeless fuel, is ignited at around 5:15 pm, just in time for "Pointless". On a weekday by "Eastenders" the heat being blasted out is such we are pressed against the walls of the living room: frozen TV dinners are simply left on the plates on our laps to cook. By 9 pm all movement has ceased. Both the wife and I are sound asleep, heads thrown back as "Lewis" starts its discovery of Oxford's intellectual underbelly, and the cats luxuriate in our contribution to climate warming.
I'm convinced we heat the rest of our terrace, which is why our neighbours can afford large 4X4's and children.
I need to remove my clothes, I need to turn off the central heating, open the sash windows and bathe in unheated tap water. I need to acclimatise my body to the chill of Svalbard.
That's right, in mid January I and my mate will be approximately 74 degrees North, with Polar Bears, Artic Foxes and Vodka drenched Russians. We're there when it's cold and dark: the idea being that we can see the Northern Lights and lots and lots of snow and stars.
I need to get used to icicles on my extremities and Jack Frost on my glasses. I need to get up close and personal to the Polar North - whilst retreating when necessary to the Radisson Blu Polar in Longyearbyen for a glass of Cab Sav and a deluxe sauna.
Hence the removal of my outer clothing. It makes sense doesn't it?