I forced myself to go into the university library today. It’s pathetic. I get so stressed and fed up about parking around the campus that I only make it in for a really compulsive reason. Today’s reason was to track down some up to date references for a lecture I have agreed to give to midwifery students. When the tutor phoned to ask me to do it, three months ago, I thought “how interesting” and didn’t hesitate to say yes. But since then, of course, I’ve got sidetracked on a dozen things and am now preparing for next Thursday in a total freaking panic.

Despite my compulsive reason, I still nearly turned round and headed for home. Students drive me bananas. They drift along in the middle of the road, either talking or with their ears plugged into their iPod, seemingly oblivious to me gnashing my teeth at their heels in my little VW. Today there seemed to be even more of them than usual indulging their jaywalking habit. My normal parking spaces were filled so I cursed my way around the campus and was about go home when I turned down a road I wouldn’t normally bother with and found a space straight away. It was also much closer to the library than my usual spot, so my mood was picking up nicely until I got out of the car and discovered why so many students were in the middle of the road – the pavements were covered in sheet ice. I have a terror of losing my footing, so I crept along on a six inch wide ice-free strip next to the wall and refused to yield to anyone coming the other way.

Once I was in the library, however, I was much more cheerful. I love rooting around in the electronic databases, and the atmosphere in the health sciences library is very conducive to concentration and sustained effort. To add to my delight, there was a Christmas tree in view every time I looked up from my monitor.


Two hours later I headed back to my car. The weather had warmed enough to turn the ice into a thin layer of slush, but to make sure of my surefootedness I shuffled my feet in every patch of sand and salt I could find. Contradictory feelings about the weather are one of the curses of being English: we bitch and moan that it’s too warm to get proper snow any more, but then when we have to deal with any of the downsides of frost and ice we grumble about that.