If he had any sense, he’d heard north, sharpish.
Although historically, they tend to steal young guys in old guys dressing gowns and take them flying while younger boys sing. They even pop down our way, and fly about the Pavilion. (Looking back at the Snowman now, living in Brighton and knowing the downs a little, it makes the nostalgia feel homely and alien. The book itself reminds me of a long time ago, but then also makes me homesick for where I am now. Seeing things through a new lens is strange).
Anyway, these days if he hung out on the Steine at the wrong time he’d just end up in trouble.
Or more specifically, melted.
It’s hot. This is no time for snow time. (Though of course, if you flick back about two years ago, wasn’t it snowing at around this time?)
Being a snow man must kinda be agony.
Imagine that every time you hit the wrong temperature (the prevailing temperature) you started to slowly melt. You surface smoothing and your structure collapsing. Your compacted crystaline flesh just dripping slowly off you at the merest sight of sunshine.
So you’d have to head north. And you probably wouldn’t make it.
I can’t tell whether it’s optimistic or miserabilist to note that the crushing physical awareness of your impending mortality might lead you the snowman in question to one of those ‘while I’ve got the chance’ flurries of activity.
I imagine a snowman waking up, realising he’s only got a few hours to live, and slowly dripping pools of water across all the places that he’d always wished he’d had a chance to enjoy.
Of course. I don’t know what a snowman’s most important aspirations would be. It’d be hard enough to guess what a person’s reaction would be to being told they had 24 hours to live, let alone what a person made out of frozen water would do.
The cliche would be sex. Or bungee jumping. Or something equally banal. (For the record, I don’t think sex is banal, but unless I was in love, I’m not sure if I’d make time for it in my last 24 hours).
Maybe he really would just pop down to the pavilion.
And maybe that’s the point of the story anyway.
The snowman knows he only has one night to live, so he passes on some magic to someone who’ll last longer. Give a gift of experience to someone, random or loved.
Live forever in the memory of one child (orthousands, if you know a good illustrator).
I don’t know what I’d do if I discovered I was going to melt away.
Probably make a hell of a lot of phone calls. Apologise to lots of people. Say a lot of I love yous and then find somewhere pretty to sit and wait.
We’re lucky we’re not snowmen, and it’d be facile to say maybe we should learn what we’d learn if we were.
But facile can be true.
Illustration by Sara.