When I first moved to Geneva whenever there was a bit of rain, grey sky or other symptom of a slightly chilly day colleagues would tease me that it must make me feel like I’m back home in Britain. I’d laugh and agree because it was generally a lot easier than trying to convince people that occasionally we also get sunshine in Britain too.
But my favourite moment of geographical weather misconceptions arose in French class when we were talking about the weather and my nationally diverse group all told me they thought it was always really foggy in the UK, and in London in particular. I stared at them blankly until I realised that these misconceptions had emerged from certain types of films that liked to apply artistic license to UK weather conditions. I expressed my amusement and tried to explain that fog wasn’t a regular weather phenomenon I associated with London. I then confounded their expectations further by explaining that, contrary to Hollywood interpretations, it also never snowed in London on Christmas Day.
People here expect me to be at home with the colder and greyer aspects of Genevan weather and for the most part these are familiar but the bitterness of last week took things to a different level. Walking to and from work I would bundle myself up in multiple layers, thick winter coat, woolly hat, leather gloves, scarf and when the wind was really biting would put my faux-fur lined hood up too. But even this was not enough to stop the smart of the gnawing cold from tearing it’s way into my flesh and freezing my bones.
The chill I’d experienced from my journey into work would then cling to me all day. My tea consumption rocketed as I kept going for cup after cup not because I actually wanted it but I was hoping if I drank enough eventually it would warm me through inside to out. One particularly dire afternoon when I’d already spent the entire day with scarf wrapped around me I even donned my winter hat much to the ridicule of my colleagues. But I didn’t care because I was just so darned cold.
But aside from quizzical looks from my co-workers and my pulling a face that looked like I was eating lemons whenever I was forced to go outside, I discovered another side effect of the cold. I developed electric superpowers and became incredibly charged with static energy. The internet tried to suggest this was something to do with decreased humidity in the air but that didn’t put me off.
I first noticed my new talent at work with little shocks whenever I opened doors or touched anything electrical. But it was really brought to my attention when I inadvertently started electric shock therapy for my cat, Buttons.
I was lying in bed and stroking Buttons starting with her head and working my way all down her body before repeating the process. At first I wasn’t sure but then I realised every time I touched her head there was a little crack and tingle of electricity passing between us. We both tried to ignore it at first and continued as we were but I noticed Buttons looking increasingly displeased as I repeatedly shocked her and feared this would create some sort of psychological reaction to my touching her I’d never be able to undo. So every time I passed a length in stroking her I would have to ground myself on the metal bed frame before starting again.
This got me thinking about whether I might be developing some kind of superpower and if I was just a few intense cinematographic training sessions away from discovering my inner Storm (of the X-Men). Perhaps if full on ability to control the weather was a little far-fetched I wondered if I could at least use my new cat-zapping ways to train them not to keep scratching the sofa or trying to eat the butter.
Perhaps I could apply it to people too and every time I ask the fiancé to go out and get me sweeties and he refuses (citing waste of money and/or freezing cold) I could subtley use my inner taser to train him that that’s not acceptable. Would it count as domestic abuse if there was no permanent damage done and no-way of telling I’d done it on purpose?
It wouldn’t be the first time I’d convinced someone I had uncontrollable electrical powers. In one job I used to get annoyed when the three managers on duty to supervise two staff would all conveniently disappear from the shop floor at the same time. Through boredom one day I accidentally learnt what buttons to press to temporarily freeze the electronic check-outs. These could only be unfrozen by an actual manager. So I took a leaf out of Roald Dahl’s Matilda’s book (children’s stories often have atrociously bad role models) and decided I’d punish my managers and every time they all disappeared “suddenly” one or both of the tills would crash. My boss did once jokingly suggest I had some sort of bizarre electronic field going on but I think that was as close as anyone got to actually suspecting I was engineering these annoying glitches on purpose.
I’d like to add (for anyone I currently or more recently have worked with who reads this) I’m much more mature now and would never behave in such a childish manner should my managers of today do anything to displease me. Although they might want to take care to check their hats as I’ve heard about how a layer of superglue on the inner rim can just materialise under tense circumstances! Come to think of it maybe that’s the reason I was wearing my hat at work last week, maybe I came in for a little revenge punishment or my own.