Fiona Duff: The icy blast of schadenfreude

A woman shelters beneath an umbrella on Whitehall as heavy snow falls in London
A woman shelters beneath an umbrella on Whitehall as heavy snow falls in London
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I don’t think that I am a particularly mean person. I rarely wish ill on others and do try and help when I can. However, when I hear that the weather in London is worse than Edinburgh, this rare occasion does bring a smile to my face.

Londoners visiting me always ask how I cope with the low temperatures and seemingly constant rain which dogs our lives. So I suppose what I feel is what the Germans call schadenfreude – which is a great word meaning happiness at someone else’s misery.

It’s not a particularly pleasant person who experiences this on a regular basis but I reckon just a little flutter of joy when the mercury is lower down south than in Scotland won’t send me to hell in a hand cart.

So obviously it was probably my just deserts when I found myself battling against the snow and freezing winds in London earlier this week, where it was colder than Edinburgh.

Quite frankly it is flaming typical and of course I hadn’t realised quite how bad it was going to be. I brought no hat, no gloves, none of my thick woolly jumpers and worst of all, no wellies.

I was that pathetic person shivering on the street with a little cotton scarf wrapped around my head as the only protection from the elements.

When one bus I was on decided to stop its journey early on the south side of Waterloo Bridge and I had to cross the Thames on foot, I thought I might actually cry. It was only the idea that my tears would freeze on my cheeks that stopped me.

There is a reason I am in London apart from visiting my daughter and friends – as you read this I should be on a plane flying off to somewhere very much warmer than the UK.

Then again, knowing my luck there will probably be a hurricane and my accommodation will be reduced to a pile of bricks.

My friends, whom I have bored with details of my trip, will be allowed a little grin.