Dad’s open window policy. How it might stop you shivering this winter.

July 12, 2011

Dad peered through the open window of the old EH Holden station wagon, and shook his head.

Across the carpark, one of my teammates was also in a car. With the windows up.

His father had air conditioning. We didn’t. Which meant he was warm.

It was under 10’s soccer, down south. Deep in winter. We had our usual ventilation. The old man swore by it.

One of my childhood memories is having the window open. At home and on the road. Dad was a believer in fresh air. At all times. Reckoned it kept the bugs away.

He had no time for cosy cars. It wasn’t healthy. So my dad, the local carpenter, told his dad, the local pharmacist, his fancy car with hot air was making their family sick.

He didn’t tell me what the reply was.

All those open windows, over all those years, and I can’t remember being cold.

Not now though. Sunny Queensland, and I’m freezing. Every morning. Old and cold. Windows shut tight. What happened to the kid who couldn’t sleep without a bedroom breeze?

I hear what you’re saying. He’s gone soft. Another casualty of the Age of Comforts. Guilty as charged.

The air conditioner is now a best friend. Cranked up. Extra blankets. Double doona.  And God bless the bathroom heater.

It’s costing us a fortune. I don’t care. I need to be warm.

It was all so different back then. We had a bar heater in the lounge room. That was it. Every chance the window was open above it.

My brother and I each slept with a decent blanket. Two if there was a frost. Didn’t need any more. And in the morning, it would be a barefoot stroll to the outside toilet.

In later years, I’d ride my bike to school, in shorts. Early too. I can’t remember ever complaining that it was too chilly to make the trip.

Now it’s all I do. Complain, that is. I’m cold going to bed. Shivering while shaving. I’d need to call a cab if I was still using that backyard dunny.

I put towels down over the bathroom tiles, to protect my tootsies. The Treasurer gets annoyed at this. She prefers bath mats. But they leave gaps. You understand, don’t you?

This won’t make much sense (nothing unusual for these pages), but I blame Cairns for my delicate thin skin. Yes, balmy North Queensland.

When we first went north, life was a constant heat wave. I’d sweat like Sir Les Patterson every other day.

Deep in a northern winter, the boys would be wearing tracksuits and beannies at footy training. They genuinely thought the nights were cold. I didn’t get it.

But just a few years later, I was rugged up too. In the tropics. It made no sense. My internal thermostat had gone haywire.

As soon as we ventured south, it was like I’d been robbed of any ability to handle the chill. And it’s still missing.

It’s true that people survive in locations that are genuinely icy. You might be reading this from such a place now. I bet you even walk barefoot on the bathroom floor. I’m impressed.

It would seem I need to toughen up. If the good folk of Hobart, and Melbourne, and the Blue Mountains can function in single digit temperatures, so can I.

The key could be to open those windows. A decent dose of fresh air. Become as one with the climate. Maybe Dad had it right after all. I’ll give it a try tomorrow night. Not tonight though. It’s freezing out there.