Baba Marta, Where Are You?

IMG_5491‘The Beast from the East’ has arrived here in London, although having grown up in Sweden where temperatures often dropped to -10 degrees in the winter and where snow was the rule, not the exception, I wouldn’t quite call it a ‘beast’.

I don’t mind a few days of snow and freezing temperatures, but I do mind when it’s the 1st of March, known as Baba Marta (Grandma March) to Bulgarians. For after a depressingly cold and damp February, I am desperate for a sign that spring is on its way.

Speaking about Bulgaria, it’s a little-known fact that I was once conversant in the Bulgarian language, having learned it to be able to do field research for my PhD dissertation. I lived in Sofia for five months in 2001, and the winter there was so cold that my landlady plied me with homemade rakia, Bulgarian plum brandy, to keep me warm. London’s snow ‘blizzard’ can’t even begin to compare.

At least the kids are happy, and yesterday the older one came back from school gleefully telling of how, during break time, she’d thrown snowballs on her teachers. When the school closed early due to the weather, we drove to the nearest grocery store and bulked up on necessities: chocolate, biscuits, and more chocolate.

I didn’t drive of course, for having a bit too cheerfully admitted to my husband that the one time I was in a ‘proper’ car crash (in the US), the streets had been icy, and I’d been in the driver’s seat. I’m banned from driving our beautiful red car until the roads have been cleared and temperatures have risen above zero.

We’ve had our car for a month now, and during that time I’ve driven the kids to school and back without any major mishap, though my parallel parking skills are pathetic. Last Saturday, driving back from the movie theatre with my husband and discovering there was but one tiny parking place available on our street, I spent thirty minutes trying to fit our car in between two others, while my husband barked instructions to me from the pavement.

Parking trouble aside, I have to admit I enjoy the freedom of being able to jump in the car and take off. Better yet, I’ve discovered ‘Heart 80s’, a radio channel that only plays 1980s pop music, allowing me to sing along to my teenage favourites as I drive: Pet Shop Boys, Madonna, Wham!, Alphaville and Culture Club.

When the kids moan about the music, and the 11-year old requests a song by Justin Timberlake or Taylor Swift, I dismiss her with a curt, “it’s the driver’s prerogative to choose the music, so deal with it!” Besides, I feel it’s my parental duty to educate my children about the 1980s music culture, especially as I am set on throwing an 80s disco party for my 50th birthday, which terrifyingly, is less than five years away.

“You’re never too old for anything,” my 7-year old claims, and while I would like to believe her, I do have a nagging feeling that I am a tad too old for crimped hair, fishnet stockings and mini-skirts. Even so, when I turn 50, I am going to party like it’s the 1980s and I am fifteen years old.

But that’s still a few years away; for now, I’m sat in my snow-covered house, eating chocolates meant for my kids and blaming Baba Marta’s no-show on Brexit.

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