I don’t like being cold. 我怕冷, as the Chinese say — I fear the cold. Here in no particular order is a list of my top STAYING WARM IN WINTER memories, which I relive over and over as I shiver in my damp, cold bed here in Taiwan.

  • Sitting on radiators at school — the radiators in my tiny French primary school, Ars (such an amusing name); the radiators in the rec room at collège; the radiators in the dorm bathroom at lycée. Actually also the radiators in the girls’ toilets at collège, the ones under the préau. Nothing better on a chilly November morning than fighting with your schoolmates for possession of a prime spot up against those enormous iron radiators.
  • Hot water bottles. Wherever I have lived, I have owned hot water bottles. I love the sound of hot water bottles being filled. I always remember the freezing winter nights when I was a child — we all had 2 hot water bottles apiece, plus a cat or two, to keep us warm in bedrooms so cold we slept fully dressed and could see our breath above the multiple duvets. Sometimes the cats would fight the hot water bottles and we would wake up drenched in water leaking from the holes made by the kitty claws. Fun.
  • Leaning against the fire guard at home, whilst reading books or listening to the radio. Leaning against the fire guard was STRICTLY FORBIDDEN by my controling father, who said it would be damaged and bent out of shape by such wild behaviour. What a fool! We just learned to lean forwards whenever he came into the room. I AM NOT TOUCHING THE FIRE GUARD DADDY. I loved roasting my back against the fire, until a smell of scorched clothes would force me to turn and roast my face instead, and it is a pleasure I have retained, as demonstrated by…
  • The Nest. My former housemate Mansa (aka best housemate in history) and I got a hideous electricity bill last winter in Melbourne, so we decided to run a space heater instead of the air heater. This proved to be in fact far more expensive (I think the bill was 870 AUD for 2 months? jeez that is like 18,000 NTD) but up until the moment we got the bill, we rejoiced in our creation: the Nest. The Nest was a pile of blankets and cushions, in front of our heater and next to the TV. We would take turns to crouch in the Nest, until the nestee was about 3 seconds away from bursting into flames. At this point, the nestee would retreat to the couch to cool down, and the former couch resident would throw herself into the Nest.
    I only realized quite recently that the “space” in space heater refers to the space around the heater. For some reason, I associated it with Space. Like astronauts. Har-dee-har.


    This post brought to you by a shivering individual currently wearing merino leggings, jeans, a t-shirt, a long-sleeved dress, a cardigan, a merino hoody, a jacket, a pashmina, and fingerless gloves, in an attempt to somehow feel warm again.


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