Beast Walk

I got caught in the Beast last night. I guess it’s my own fault for criticising our country’s response to any sort of weather. Karma really is a bitch.

But I’m still going to criticise because… well, nothing that happened yesterday – weatherwise, that is – came as a shock. It had been forecast for quite some time. So why the fudge had nothing been done?

I was at work last night, working the last shift because someone decided to book late (even though it was snowing) and I was already in work. Throughout the whole night I’d been carefully observing the weather and the frequency of buses going past the window. Both of them were pretty good – the weather was snowy flurries, the buses were putting on a strong game. In fact, in the downtime between shifts I even left the warm sanctity of the reception area and meandered round town to have a looksee at the conditions. And it didn’t seem half bad.

So imagine my joy when I left work at eleven – or just before, so I would be in time for the last bus home – to find that all the buses had been suspended due to adverse weather conditions. And that all the taxis in Huddersfield town centre had evaporated into thin air.

Yeah I was pretty chuffed as well!

I rang Carole to let her know – I mean, basically I had two choices at that time. I could walk home along Leeds Road or go back to work and stay there overnight. Both were on the cards. Carole though, bless her cotton socks, overcame her fear of driving in the snow – although she was shaking like a shitting dog – and drove out to get me. I did have to walk along Leeds Road, though. And I discovered, in the process, that the sleeves of my fleece do very little to keep out minus 3 degree winds. If I didn’t need them for balance, I’d have taken then from the sleeves and kept them in the body of my jacket with my, well, body.

Obviously no walk part way home in the snow is complete without the addition of someone who’s clearly been in town all day getting pissed because it’s St Patrick’s Day and haven’t dressed in a sensible fashion. Even though I left home several hours ago, I had the forethought to wear a coat and to put on footwear with grip. Town at 11pm was full of pissed up people in impractical shoes trying to walk on snow. Town at 11pm was full of a lot of people slamming into pavements.

I won’t lie. It was funny.

As I set off along Leeds Road, though, there was just me and one other person walking.

The other person was one of the aforementioned pissed up people. I could tell by the way he was staggering. And entirely coatless.

But what made it even better was that he was walking while leaning his body at around a forty-five degree angle and periodically sliding through the snow.

In my boots, the ground wasn’t even that slippy. In my entire walk I slipped once, and that was more from a lapse in judgement that from underfoot conditions. This guy was more or less skating down the road. He was in front of me, and I was gaining on him. Which is not really something I wanted to do. Because the last thing I fancied was to be in a position where I’m trying to get home but a drunk diagonal sliding man has formed an attachment to me as some kind of walking buddy.

I will admit that the milk of human kindness had completely frozen over.

Instead, as his feet left the pavement and flew into the air, I crossed over the road. I think I was on the other side of the road and merrily walking along before his body had finished slamming into the pavement slabs. That’s how much I did not want to get involved in it. I did check to make sure he got back up, but that was as much as I was wanting to get into, really.

I know that makes me a horrible person. But there’s only so much human stupidity you can put up with. Like I say, the weather had been forecast – so at least prepare for it. I wasn’t chuffed – at all – to be in the position I was in, but it had always been a niggle in the back of my mind. That’s why I’d been watching buses all night. That’s why I’d tested out the couch in reception for comfiness – too short, but surprisingly pleasant to lie on.

I met one woman, as my journey started, who said she didn’t mind walking home – she’d been out since about lunchtime, but she had the full kit and caboodle on. She’d come prepared. She was 98% wool when I was talking to her. She didn’t mind walking home. She was just worried about what state her chicken kebab would be in when she got there.

I spent my walk home wondering if that was an actual chicken kebab, or if it was a metaphor for something else…