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Childhood memories of snow at school – what a bunch of Jessies we are today

Tom Winnifrith
Thursday 29 January 2015

I was chatting to a chap in the grim North today. Snow was falling and he said that at 7 AM this morning with less than an inch of global warming on the ground the kids had been texted: School is closed.  We reflected how life had changed.

Even during the winter of 1979, I cannot remember Warwick School for Boys shutting down. When we are at the junior school snow meant that Headmaster Jack Marshall would allow us to wear long trousers rather than our normal shorts. It could have been minus 5 but if there was no snow, it was shorts as normal for the younger boys.

If the rugby pitches were covered in snow we played anyway. Snow is soft. When snow turned to ice it was a freezing cross country run instead. Boy did I hate that.

The point is that the school never closed. And snow meant snowballs which is not quite the harmless game it sounds. The sixth form would amass on the centre of a rugby pitch and the rest of the school would advance from a car park to throw snow balls. And then in snatch parties, as in the army, the brutes would rush out and try to catch an advancing “nipper” who would promptly find himself having snow shoved up his shirt and down his trousers, returning to his comrades a bedraggled mess.

It was a brutal game a bit like a winter version of British Bulldog a game which is I am sure now banned for being both racist and also a clear breach of Health and Safety rules. But it was a game everyone always looked forward to.

Just occasionally snow would mean that some of us got a day off. We lived in a little village called Harbury and to get down to Warwick (15 minutes full pelt downhill in the summer on a bicycle) could be dangerous at the height of winter. So just occasionally those boys living in Harbury (myself, Bunting M, Ellis D, Millington S, Smith G and Garman J – how on earth do I remember this nonsense) would not be able to get to go to school. That meant a day sledging down Ufton Hill.

I compare these vague memories of childhood with today. If there is a couple of millimetres of snow The Mrs gets a text from her University saying that she has the day off, the Schools are all closed and education stops. I might sound like a grumpy old man but surely are we not just a bunch of Jessies these days?

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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