Photo taken on the train to London, 2009
December 1990: A blizzard swept over the country, bringing down all the power lines and, to my great delight, closing my school. The world became an enormous playground where everything was an adventure. The garden was a place for snowball fights and building the craziest snow creatures and people. When my father and I drove out (what madness without snow chains or winter tyres) to collect my half-brother who was studying at university nearby, we stocked up with vast quantities of chocolate and biscuits for worst case scenarios, although these mysteriously disappeared without trace later. Every day, we all ventured out for long walks to buy fresh supplies as our freezer was out of use. But best of all were the evenings when we toasted bread in front of the fire, lit the candles and read to each other from our favourite books. A particular highlight was my mother reading the classic section from George and Wheedon Grossmith’s ‘The Diary of a Nobody’ where Mr. Pooter paints his bath red and ends up looking like Marat in David’s painting after using it. She could never quite forgive my father for falling asleep at that part or for him using the antique bed warmer. An heirloom which had been in the family for some time, it proved to be disastrous and leaked water everywhere, forcing my parents to spend a miserable night in the living room until their bed had dried. Utterly worthless, it hangs on the wall today, superfluous but never failing to make me smile each time I see it.
The sight of snow brings back memories of that winter and those quiet nights in the time before computers and smartphones. What that in mind, I’ve selected a few classic winter images which I hope you will enjoy, even if you consider snow more of a nuisance than a delight.
A streetcar stuck in New York after a freak snowstorm in 1936
Traffic chaos in New York, 1967
A man walking through Montmartre cemetery, 1946, by Ed Clark
The Eiffel Tower, 1948, by Dmitri Kessel
The Paris Opéra in 1942 by Robert Doisneau
On the Rhine, 1956, by Henri Cartier-Bresson
Washington Square, 1954, by André Kertész
Car tracks in the snow by Bramham Gardens, London, 1940s, by Eileen Agar
A snowball fight in Trafalgar Square, 1931