‘Can we have the heating up Mr Lovell?’
‘No Jimmy, but I will allow you to go and get your school jumper.’
‘But I didn’t bring one!’
It’s been bloody cold in Hobart this past week. Most are rugged up in the Tassie tuxedo – ie, puffer jackets – as befits snow down to the lower levels on kunanyi. I don’t possess one. Does that make me un-Tasmanian? But I have multiple layers on today with, thankfully, the city providing comfy warmth at its indoor locations. But it’s not only brittle-frozen Canberra at this time of year that has them, Mr Glover. We have that species of humanity here in Hobs as well. Men usually, but an occasional member of the fairer gender, pretending there’s no icing in the mountain and it’s balmy mid-summer. They are dressed for the outback in shorts, tees and sometimes even thongs. They strut around, thinking all passers-by must be so in admiration of them for being so overwhelmingly Tassie-tough. What the normal sensible denizens really think about them is not fit for these pages. There are some, I know, who have a radically different tolerance to the cold than I. Some of my nearest and dearest can somehow withstand severe frostiness. Most I fear, though, are all show; the grown up versions of young Jimmy from my teaching days.
I watched those foolhardy lads, rarely girls, descend from their buses whilst on early morning duty with the frost on the ground. Their goosebumps were the size of Mt Myrtle overlooking my school. They were sort of holding themselves very tightly, as if that would provide some minor relief for the uber-cold they must be feeling. Attired, they were, in grey shorts topped only by short sleeve shirts over bare skin – no singlet. It was pointless asking where their jumpers were and no doubt, back home, they’d be just as stubborn against any parental entreaty to rug up. At door opening time you bet they’d be the first in, standing shivering under the classroom heaters as they revved up for the day. If the room had a thermostat it’d be up to the max by the time you made it to start your teaching day. Then the room would be like a Scandinavian sauna, causing you to dispense with a few of your own layers and even then be sweatily overheating until the room eventually cooled to tolerable levels.
So when Jimmy asked, I was unsympathetic. I wonder, as an adult, is he still parading around his home town in mid-winter dressed for high summer at Bondi? I ruminate as to whether his abode’s power bills are astronomical – or does he guiltily ram on the layers once he’s indoors, no longer feeling the urge to flaunt his Tassie he-manism to all and sundry.
Yep, I know I’m soft. I need to be coddled in warmth when the temperature drops to single digits. And don’t get me started on those naked maniacs who brave the Derwent come the solstice dawn. I bet, Mr Glover, your Canberra has nothing to match that nude madness.
Canberra’s winters by Richard Glover = https://www.smh.com.au/national/richard-glover-frozen-stiff-in-an-apparently-hot-land-20190702-p523c8.html