Many years ago, when I was studying at University of Wales in Cardiff and living in Senghenydd, I stretched out on my settee one Sunday afternoon in January and read two children’s books by Paul Theroux: A Christmas Card and London Snow. These books drew me in and absorbed me so completely that I wanted to re-read them straightaway. Both were compelling winter’s tales, evoking nostalgia for the romantic things we associate with Christmas as children, even if we rarely experience them, and it seemed hardly surprising when I looked out the window upon finishing A Christmas Card to see snow falling. Quite magically. It made me wish I’d read them on Christmas Eve instead and I promised myself I’d do this next Christmas.
Needless to say I forgot, but two years later, when telling a group of Year 8 students about this, they asked if I’d read them to the class, which I did, and sure enough, that evening it snowed. They were as delighted as I was, and it proved to them, I hope, the enchantment of good literature.
I’ve read both books many times since, and while they still evoke everything I like and wish from a northern winter, and they’re everything a good winter’s tale should be, they’re unable to bring the snow to me anymore. Maybe that’s why I wrote a winter’s tale of my own, for adults, and why Christmas and snow became strong motifs in The Snowing and Greening of Thomas Passmore, so I might try and recreate a similar magic for myself and others too. I hope so.
Merry Christmas to you and a happy new year.