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Siberia Chills

People often ask me, “Papa Lazarou, is it cold in Siberia in March?”

Well ask no more, little ones, for here is all that you need to know.

According to legend, the air has very low water content, so humans don’t notice the extremes of temperature on their exposed skin so strongly. An exception to this would be if they were moist, e.g. they hadn’t dried their hair before they rushed off late to work with a corking hangover, or they were perhaps sweating due to running for the last skidoo into town. Now though it may have been -14C yesterday in Irtutsk, for example, legend has it that you wouldn’t feel it.

After waiting for a bus to Lake Baikal for more than 6 minutes, children, you may feel the urge to hop into the first taxi that passes, and try to recover basic motor functions during the 40 mile journey in the motorised Lada-oven. You would be easy pickings for such drivers, who must see icicle-like tourists in distress quite often. Bear in mind that the taxi drivers car will have a blanket over the engine to keep it warm, and a piece of wood blocking out the inhuman air from the radiator to avoid any cooling of the engine. And it’s got exploding petrol inside.

If you get to Lake Baikal, the world’s deepest lake, you might learn of the Golonkaya – a hardy fish which lives at a depth of about 1.5 km. The depth keeps it well away from the frozen surface of the lake, and the fact that it’s body consists of translucent fat must help it fend off any chills. When was the last time you saw a fat tuna?

Gloves that may stave off the worst of a winter in Stockholm, will not suffice in their appointed task. Human fingers in these so-called ‘thinsulate’ gloves will appear to be detached from the hand, as sensation is lost in about 10 minutes. After finding a way to reheat these fingers, you will need to put your fingers back into the gloves, and the gloves deeply into your coat pockets, if you are to retain full use of your hands.

With your hands safe, you can focus your attention on your teeth. There’s no point worrying about your toes. Forget them – sensation won’t return for a good few hours. Teeth, however, are a separate matter. It suddenly makes sense. You’ve seen locals eating Cornettos and Magnums in the snow. It all clicks. When your teeth are at minus three, ice cream is probably a safe way of thawing them out without cracking them. From there you can move to liquids, and you are on the road to bringing your teeth up to warm drinks, and a full recovery. Bypassing the ice-cream would probably result in a loud crack, and a spray of enamel shards spewing forth from the frozen incisors.

And as for not feeling cold, that’s utter bollocks. Papa Lazarus has been out and about on his rounds at 10pm, when it was only -8C, quite warm for the time of day. Wearing all of his clothes, he couldn’t stop swearing at the wind blasting his face. Set up offshore development centres in Siberia. The kids would be grateful to be warm and inside. They’re my wives now.

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