I don’t wish to tempt malign fate but I must point out that this winter could actually be a lot worse. Imagine, on top of the pandemic, the sort of January in which food lorries can’t get through snowdrifts reaching 23ft in places, where millions of homes have lost their water supply because of pipes frozen in temperatures that sometimes plunge to negative four degrees, and where striking power workers have deprived homes, workplaces, schools and hospitals of heat and light for several hours each day.
That is the winter evoked in Frostquake, Juliet Nicolson’s entertaining panorama of life in Britain during the original “beast from the east”: the Siberian weather front that brought the great freeze of 1962-63. And the mother of all cold snaps it was too. The snow that started falling on Boxing Day didn’t thaw until the first week of March.