With winter finally here, a cutting wind has been blowing - the sort that fixes the face with a rigid mask of hurt. I had only been out of the flat a couple of minutes, was just passing the old city walls in fact, when the tell-tale signs of burning cheeks and stiffening skin set in.
Not for the first time, Shakespeare's rather biting song, 'Blow Blow thou Winter Wynd' comes to mind.
What makes a cold wind bitter?
Physically I have been out in low temperatures - well, well below zero - and not felt uncomfortable. But the instant a breeze gets up - and it doesn't take more than that - thoughts of hot black current and gin; a warm fire; toast, melting butter and a thick layer of pate flood the mind.
Some of the bitterest winds happen in England - not the coldest of places in winter: I have known Moscow living Russians return from a January visit to London only to complain of how cold England is - this done by people who live with the snow on the ground and a forecast of plunging overnight temperatures (it already being -10 degrees Celsius).
There is something about the moisture - a bit of rain in the air and life becomes miserable; a damp coldness chills far more than snow; cold wet jeans are killers in exposed conditions.
For Shakespeare though, these whips of nature are nothing compared with the attitudes shown by man to man.
The winter winds are, "not so unkind as man's ingratitude."
An interesting concept – cold, cutting ingratitude.
Hatred I assume is hot: There is animation and energy in the tempest of hatred.
To be ungrateful requires the cutting down of the flow of energy – the freezing out of emotions, an immobilisation of natural life forces.
Feigning friendship’s chilling kiss brings no thoughts of the thaw to come, only of the lonely grave.