Monday, 2 February 2009


Snow has affected Urbs Beata today, as it has throughout much of the country. I had quite a stress-free day as several patients cancelled their appointments because they couldn't make it to the surgery. And telephone calls and visits were light, as though everyone realised that travel was difficult and one shouldn't bother the doctor except in an emergency. But I couldn't drive home from the surgery this evening because steep gradients had brought the traffic to a halt. After trying for half an hour I turned round and put my car back in the surgery car park.

And walked home. Fortunately (as I so often am) I was wearing a warm coat with a hood, and stout walking shoes. There was only light snowfall and a mild breeze. It is but twenty minutes walk from the surgery to my house, and I would willingly walk there every day if we were not obliged to do home visits. As I strode along past the queues of cars that were going nowhere, my heart suddenly lifted. The suburban landscape was beautiful under its covering of snow, I was free, and I was having fun! I passed parents dragging sledges with their excited young children, and groups of youngsters chattering on mobile phones. As I left the jam of cars behind me, trapped behind two vehicles that had collided, the road became quieter. Turning off onto a side road there was complete silence apart from the crunch of my steps in the snow. The sodium lights bathed the snow-covered street in a golden glow. Mrs Brown was looking out for me and the front door opened as I arrived. The hallway was warm and delicious smells were emerging from the kitchen. What a wonderful end to the day: the hunter was home from the hill!

This sort of thing doesn't happen very often, but it was a welcome reminder of how good it can be to escape from our cars which have trapped us. While I was trying to drive home I was stressed, worried whether the car would slip on the road, whether I would hit something, whether something would hit me, and whether the roads would be blocked. I had little control over the situation. As soon as I parked and walked I became my own master again.

We should have snow more often.