Balaclava time

Simon Goss
4 min readDec 30, 2019

The bathroom window had ice inside. Not frosted, frozen. I could see my dragon breath as I stood holding my shrivelled billy. In Brynaman, boys had billies, girls had peggies. It was best to have a steaming pee now, as my billy would soon be buried under layers of clothing with little hope of rapid relief should the need arise.

The snow in drifts was higher than my four year old head and my mother swaddled me tight in all the wool in Wales before I was allowed out to play in it. My scalp twitched at the mere sight of my knitted brown balaclava. It worked as a kind of time constraint on play time - you could only stay out for as long as you could stand the itching. The legs of my trousers had been wrapped around my shins and my long grey socks pulled over to allow reasonable comfort inside my welly boots. My mittens were tucked into the cuffs of my duffel coat and the toggles done up over my arran. I resembled a small, woolly deep sea diver as I eventually stepped outside into pristine, blinding whiteness.

The world was softer but crisper too. I was too excited to take it all in. The crumpy snow bobbled on my mittens as I attempted to make snowballs to throw at the stiff as board towels on the neglected washing line. I inspected the minutely detailed pattern of my boot prints that meandered behind me, their varying depths revealing the contour of the ground hidden beneath, the odd clump of…