It's time to get the winter woolies out

It's time to get the winter woolies out

According to the Meteorological Department, the "cold season" in Thailand officially started last Thursday, although "cool season" is perhaps more accurate. It is helpful that they are so precise about it. A cautious "in the coming weeks" might have been safer, just in case a nasty hot spell pops up and we find tourists flaking out in the streets. You just can't be sure these days of climate change and weird weather.

Nonetheless, it's an early warning for us all to sniff out those winter woolies, balaclavas, fur coats, snow boots and thermal underwear just in case it gets "a bit nippy". However, preparing hot water bottles might be a trifle premature.

Although the onset of the cooler weather suggests the end of the rainy season, don't discard those umbrellas or Wellington boots just yet. October weather has a nasty way of coming back to sink even the best-laid plans. All it takes is the combination of a sneaky storm and a high tide and the City of Angels can be quickly transformed into the City of Soggy Socks. At least it might give us the pleasure of seeing politicians, in search of precious photo ops, looking extremely uncomfortable as they slosh about in floods in their wellies.

To test the veracity of the Met Office's announcement, on Thursday morning I took a keener interest than usual in the state of the weather. At 10am it was a very pleasant 29C, so I wasn't exactly shivering. In fact, after a gentle stroll around the garden, I was dripping in sweat, confirming that it is not quite time to summon the snow-ploughs

Headline news

For the curious, the coldest weather in Bangkok over the last 50 years occurred in the winter of 1970-71 when the temperature in the Big Mango dipped to 9C. I was relatively new here at that time and found it a pleasant reminder of England.

Back in the 1980s, there was a particularly noticeable cold spell in Thailand which prompted the Bangkok World newspaper to carry a banner headline which read "Brrr!" Now you won't see that very often in this country.

Fashionable weather

The most important function of cooler weather is that it gives Thai people the opportunity to wear something just a little bit different. After all, it must get a bit boring walking around in shirt sleeves and light clothes the whole year-round. There is seldom a chance to wear thick overcoats and scarves like those lucky Europeans and Americans.

So, it is probably time to give the old sua gan naow (sweater) an airing, or even better, buy a new sweater even if it will only be used for a few days. Admittedly some citizens overdo it and look like they are heading off for an Arctic expedition when the closest encounter with anything cold will be air-conditioning at the local mall.

When I took my wife to England for the first time it was in October and she was buried under thick sweaters every time we ventured out, even though it was relatively mild. She loved it but was disappointed there wasn't any snow. Of course, the week after we came back it snowed in London.

Brolly folly

I know it is tempting fate, but having just been given a nice umbrella, I wouldn't be averse to a couple of rainy days in the coming weeks to put it to good use.

Apart from their primary function of poking people in the eye, umbrellas are something of an enigma. Useful though they may be, lugging them around is a pain and they are easily mislaid. On London Transport alone, more than 10,000 umbrellas are lost each year. I dread to think how many I have gone through over the years and there's probably a couple of my ex-umbrellas currently whizzing about on the Skytrain.

Some time ago I was the proud possessor of a white Bangkok Post umbrella that was adorned with newspaper headlines, some of which I had even written. One evening I was taking refuge from a storm in a Sukhumvit Road noodle shop and a young woman asked if she could borrow my brolly while she bought something at a nearby shop. I foolishly agreed and of course, that was the last I saw of the umbrella or the lady. I hope she enjoyed reading the headlines.

Strictly Latin

Following last week's column featuring a strict Latin teacher, my thanks to a Canadian reader for sharing his school experiences of two elderly eccentric Latin professors who were not averse to canings and who could both explode in rage at the smallest irritation.

Like most 1960s teachers, they were given nicknames. According to the reader, Hawkeye's moniker came from for the teacher's glass eye "which stared at one with a predatory interest to fill one with dread". Among Hawkeye's talents was the amazing ability to write both Latin and English backwards on the blackboard. He was also accomplished at throwing chalk at pupils with deadly accuracy, despite the glass eye.

Chrome Dome got his name from being completely bald and probably having a metal plate in his head. When he became angry with a pupil he would always shout, to the delight of the class, "you silly cretin!"

Those were the days.

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Roger Crutchley

Bangkok Post columnist

A long time popular Bangkok Post columnist. In 1994 he won the Ayumongkol Literary Award. For many years he was Sports Editor at the Bangkok Post.

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