8 February 2015

Oooh, it’s been cold! Not the bone-numbing cold those of you in the frozen northeast have to endure but still plenty cold enough for us! We had a smattering of snow on Monday night/Tuesday morning and a few more flurries at various points during the week. Never enough to settle to any significant extent nor to cause any transport disruption but the cold and deep frosts have at least ensured that the mud is rock-hard and Molly and I can return from our various perambulations more or less mud-free.

As I wrote last week, the weather forecasters were predicting the snow storm of the century last week and there was much “hilarity” at the fact that in most of the country it was hardly worth commenting on. Following these predictions of calamity and the end of civilisation as we know it, the Guardian asked readers to send in photos of Snowmaggedon 2015. A few of the better examples:

On Tuesday mornings Ms Playchute and I attend a yoga class in Banbury. This past Tuesday as we were getting ready to go I announced that I was going to scrape the car windscreen and warm the car up. Out I went, inserted the key in the ignition and turned – not a peep. Not a sound, not a click, not even the tired asthmatic sound of a depleted battery desperately trying to turn the engine over. Nada! The battery was not merely flat, it was dead as the proverbial parrot.

After wondering for a moment as to why this might be, the penny dropped – I had left the electric seat plugged in overnight and it had sucked all the juice out of the battery. Quelle Merde!

When we visited my folks and brother Steph in New Hampshire last October, Steph’s wife Hope regaled us with descriptions of the comfort and delight of her heated car seat. Thinking this was a great idea, I bought one for Penelope for Christmas and, when I gave it to her, I gave her clear instructions that she was never to leave it plugged in or she would drain the battery. (Unfortunately, the 12 volt power outlet in her car is “on” all the time, whether the key is turned or not).

It had been so cold on Monday afternoon when I had driven over to Edgecote for Molly’s afternoon walk that I plugged it in and, as you can now deduce, left it plugged in overnight. Penelope was very good about not laughing too uproariously but the smirk on her face was a clear indication that she was enjoying my discomfort enormously!

We recently received the news that Lady Penelope’s birthplace, Torrington House in St Albans, is up for sale – offers in excess of £2m. We did think of starting a campaign to save it for the nation but so far we’ve only managed to raise 47 pence. You can see it on RightMove (for the time being) where you can see some additional photos and take a virtual tour.

On the first image on the slideshow (and in the photo below), the room in which she was born is at the top right. On the Virtual Tour it’s Room 8 on what we in the UK refer to as the First Floor (i.e., the first floor above the Ground Floor).


The following is relevant only to those of you who watched or otherwise might be interested in the Superbowl which was played last Sunday evening. The rest of you can skip to the bottom!

While walking Molly I was listening to the College Football podcast the other day (a day or two after the Superbowl) when the host, Ivan Maisel, told an old joke with a modern context. He explained that it was originally a popular joke when Billy Graham the evangelist was going strong and that one could substitute the name of any football coach with whom one was in any way disenchanted at the time. Naturally, following the play call at the end of the Superbowl, he used the name of the Seattle coach Pete Carroll.

What do Billy Graham and Pete Carroll have in common?

They’re the only two men who can make a crowd of 80,000 in a football stadium all stand up and shout, “Jesus Christ!”

In Pete Carroll’s case I suspect they would add, “What were you thinking?!”

Love to you all,