Friday, December 31, 2004


Continuing the theme of reminiscing a little mistily about my school days, I've been inspired by some recent snowfall in Heidelberg to write a little bit about the times at school when it snowed. It only happened a couple of times whilst I was at secondary school, but they were great times.

For some unknown reason, any heavy snowfall we had always occurred between morning break and lunchtime. This meant that by lunchtime the entire school would be under a good couple of inches of snow, including the school playing field, which was enormous. This isn't good when you've got 1400-odd teenagers around.

We obviously had snowball fights, and they quickly became epic. I remember one in particular which became the Sixth Form (around 90 students) versus the entire rest of the school (around 1300 students) in a lengthy pitched battle.

I was part of the bigger group, and we penned the older kids into one corner, where they quickly ran out of snow and became lambs to the slaughter. We had the rest of the field to grab supplies of snow from, so it was a very one-sided affair. Hey, they were bigger than us!

Our lunch breaks were supposedly only 45 minutes long, but whenever these snowball fights kicked off they were endless. We'd have the teachers coming all of the way up the field to force us back inside, being pelted with snowballs as they did so. It was the ultimate payback for us, because they had no idea who had thrown it, since there were hundreds of kids around, all with snowballs in their hands and covered in snow from top to toe. Sneaky sneaky.

Of course, when everyone eventually got back inside the classrooms, there was steam and condensation everywhere. The radiators were a foot deep in coats and gloves and all that crap, and you couldn't see into or out of a single window because they were all thick with mist and damp.

I'm surprised anyone was even able to concentrate for the lessons, because we were all freezing cold and at the same time high as kites, with adrenaline still pulsing through us. Those lessons always seemed the longest, with the minute hand of the clock taking hours to move even a smidgen. All we wanted was to be let out of school so that we could carry on the snowball fight.

It's strange how these things never leave you though. About this time two years ago, whilst I was studying in London, there was a huge snowfall one afternoon, a good 2-3 inches in a matter of hours. Public transport naturally went to pieces, but thankfully I'd already got home from my lectures.

My halls were in the middle of suburbia, on a quiet road in North London, which was affected by the snow as much as anywhere else. The only thing worth doing at 5pm that afternoon was, of course, have a huge snowball fight. We ended up with two groups on either side of the street, having a running battle with each other.

This went on for hours, and was great fun. We'd take momentary pauses to let 'civilians' walk past, as well as having to stop for cars (flashback to the scene in Wayne's World where Garth and Wayne are playing hockey on the street: "Car!" "Game off!" "Game off!" "Game ON!" "Game ON!"). We were just like kids, playing in the snow for the first time. The only difference was that we went to the bar and got so very drunk immediately after.

You can't do that when you're 14, believe me.

Have a great new year's eve, whatever is it you're getting up to, and wherever you may be!