In the city the snow is melting patchily and unevenly, and revealing its cargo of unswept litter, lost gloves and dead leaves. Dirty mounds are all that's left of snowmen, while by the kerb linear sheafs mark where the bonnets of parked cars, finally driven away for the first time in days, lost, in the process, their coverings of snow. Outside one housing estate a doll's head suffered the elements with all the strange dignity of death.
Some of the pavements are clear, even dry; others, without the weak winter sun on them, are still ice-bound and treacherous.
The reddish grit spread on them after the first fall bleeds through now, and dog turds lurk here and there, uncovered by the retreating ice like ancient fossils breaking through the glacial moraine.
Here and there are harbingers of spring. One patch of ice, on Palace Road, was stained here and there with bright fluorescent yellow, where pine catkins, trapped in the snow, had spent their pollen fruitlessly into the ice. And from a nearby holly thicket came the faint 'chee, chee' of a blue tit, fooled by a blue sky after days of snow, calling as though the mad days of March were already here.