Last year, our winter in Korea started some time around the end of December. I have a vague memory of sailing out for Christmas dinner wearing more sequins than you’d think seasonally possible looking all the better for sans jacket. Yes, I was cold. But nothing my north-east–of-Scotland sensibilities weren’t ready for.
What my north-east-of-Scotland sensibilities weren’t ready for was Winter 2014’s arrival in our office in mid-October. Where was that fabulous window of weather that allows the wearing of whatever I want to work without fear of drowning in sweat or freezing to death? When would I be able to reacquaint myself with the professional wardrobe I had all but abandoned over summer in favour of 70’s running shorts and breathable cotton tops? Why was I having to wear more clothes for spending my days in the office than I was for actually travelling there?
I first knew that autumn was on the way out about a month ago, when I realised I was clock-watching not so I could go home to cats and writing and drawing, but so that I could step outside. Yep, outside, where darkening skies and a confident sea breeze were waiting to envelop me in their significantly-warmer-than-the-office conditions. The same happened last year, but it still came as a shock. Warmer outside than in? I’m Scottish. That surely can’t be!
Everest Expedition-style dressing to work in government buildings in Korea is not unusual. Budgets, regulations and a weird collective conscious that dictates Winter starts on 1 December therefore the heater won’t be turned on until then (actual temperature notwithstanding) is rife. And so is the amount of arctic wear that can be found draped around my desk.
More like a thrift store than the work station of a professional person, leg warmers, woolly hat, giant cardigan and 100% polyester (therefore 100% heat-trapping) blanket take their place alongside Computer, Tea Bags and Avian Flu Health Mask (It’s Asia! It’s OK!) as essential items for a productive work day.
So now my time is spent bowling round work swilling hot Berocca, ninja-d up in my health-mask, giant woolly hat perched on my head a la Mars Attacks! alien. I’ve gone from 70’s running shorts to Inuit tribeswoman in the less time than it takes to get my gloves on.
And whilst my inner materialist, lawyer and all-round adult misses my work attire, to be honest, casting off the shackles of professional work wear in favour of blankets and Argyle knits is an excellent trade-off.
And, on the plus side, at least those bastard mosquitoes are gone.
* It’s been a while, I just had to write something so, always being keen to perpetuate my native British stereotype, I chose the weather. Again.