Now that winter has snuck in under the back door, it would be churlish not to share some valuable insights into the art of staying warm. For the next few months, get set for chilly winds, short days and shrouds of pewter clouds leaking shivery showers. Some folks delight in the brisk freshness – others deplore the damp and hibernate miserably.
But fear not, oh miserable ones. Research has unearthed some gems from a book on how to stay warm, cunningly titled How To Stay Warm, where the author claims that to fully understand how to get properly warm, one has to first get properly cold. This determines our personal thresholds, apparently. To achieve this, he reckons, we need go no further than the North Pole.
Up around there – just to the left – a race called the Inuit have it pretty sussed. They, like our San, are hunters, and end up doing a lot of running around after their prey. Over there they chase things like bears.
This strenuous pursuit through knee-deep snow not only keeps their bodies warm and trim, but if they catch up to the beast, apart from eating it, they can also use its skin for even more warm clothing. Triple whammy! Stay fit, fed and clothed. This is where the term ‘hunting for something to wear’ originated.
Although very effective in Alaska, we don’t have that many available bears to shoot around here, and anyway, wearing all those layers of fur to weddings and wine pairings (although toasty), would be considered a floater in the sartorial punchbowl.
So, staying up north (to the right of the pole), let’s examine another race of cold people, in the mystical land of Oden.
These Nordic types have a completely different approach to staying warm – by stripping. They couldn’t give a fig about the cold. And why? Well it all started when their ancestors invented volcanoes. They realized that molten lava and boiling rocks made clouds of warm steam when water was added, and bearing this principle in mind, it wasn’t long before they created the sweat-inducing sauna.
Most Scandinavian houses have saunas these days. Sometimes the whole house, or at least the lounge/dining area is one huge, toasty steam-room – so it’s normal for friends to strip off when visiting. It’s polite to bring your own towels though, especially to sit on at dinner parties.
Now and then they cool off by rolling in snow, or plunging into a frozen lake, and this butt-naked socialising is regarded as perfectly natural. However, it sometimes leads to other ways the Scandinavians keep warm – for another column though.
Well, there aren’t many volcanoes around here, never mind the water shortage to create the steam, so it didn’t catch on either.
But in the land of ‘n boer maak ‘n plan, we have our own ingenious methods of warding off winter’s shivers.
Firstly, lock the bedroom door and undress completely. Make sure the curtains are closed. Then – as in the movie Withnail and I – rub Deep Heat or Wintergreen all over your entire body, being particularly careful around the eyes and unmentionables – and don’t pick your nose.
Those tingles you experience all over are the chemicals in the lotion stimulating your red blood corpuscles into a frenzied cadenza of molecular agitation, creating a temperature increase and leading us to the next step – containing the heat.
First prize is a rubber wetsuit for snug insulation – warmth in, cold out. Perlemoen smugglers swear by it and often go one step further. Although somewhat unsavoury to non-divers, they pee while inside the wetsuit, creating a layer of body-temperature liquid between the rubber and the chemically aroused skin. This allows them to stay longer in the water and poach more perlemoen.
An added advantage is that wetsuits can be worn under your normal clothing at functions, and nobody will be aromatically offended if you make sure the Wintergreen overpowers the pee.
A ‘must have’ this winter – leak-proof family packs available from the editor @ R85.74 – while stocks last!