All too soon the black clouds reappeared....

10:00am Friday 14th February 2014

By Peter Unsworth

FOR a short time after lunch on Tuesday, I felt sure that God was in his Heaven and all was right with the world.

The scene was Christ Church Meadow, now a lake. The wind had dropped, the sky was blue and I sat on a Broad Walk bench gazing over the waters to where, on a small island created by the floods, were geese, ducks, crows, coots and moorhens huddling beneath a gnarled old tree. There were no disputes over territory; no chasing others into the water. Survival was for everyone.

A group of 13 lads in PE kit and two teachers from Magdalen College School came along. Every 100 yards or so the group stopped and the boys were instructed to perform press-ups and hip twisting. Denied their fields, they were making the best of what was available.

Somewhere nearby bells began to ring. Visitors chatted and laughed as they wandered by, some finding time to say hello. Spring seemed to have arrived and it was all too easy to forget the misery that was taking place further down the Thames and across the southern counties. But all too soon the black clouds reappeared; the wind returned and with them feelings of guilt at being unable to do so little for the less fortunate whose homes and lives have been torn apart by the floods.

I DON’T for a second think I’m alone in being fascinated by the newly introduced slopestyle skiing competitions at the Winter Olympics. The skill and bravery of these snowboard riders and skiers of both sexes is amazing.

Yet how many people, like me, have found the technical talk akin to some foreign language with the young and enthusiastic commentators failing to explain? ‘Backside 360’, ‘double 12’, ‘big 900s’, ‘half pipe’ are just some of the terms. Piecing it all together is worse than trying to build an Airfix inter-galactic spaceship without the page of instructions.

“Why do you need to know?” asked eight-year-old grandson George. “It isn’t as if you’ll ever do it yourself.”

Sad but true.

IT is also sad but true that plans for a Valentine’s Day family knees-up has been called off on account of the weather. Gathering the clan from various corners of the country seems unwise when the forecast is so gloomy.

But all is not lost. As long as the centre of Oxford stays above the water line I’ll be at the New Theatre on Monday to see Dreamboats and Petticoats. You saw it last year, I hear you say. That’s true but the delightful music serves to remind me of the days when a snowboard on the ski slopes might have been a possibility.

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