When I was just a few weeks into this job, I met a grizzled old-timer on a bench in the City, who informed me that you're not a real courier until you've survived your first winter. That was back in October, and now it's March, and London's full of daffodils and magnolia blossom, and I think I've made it.
And even though I've spent far too much time awake and outside for the past few months, I feel like I'm coming out of hibernation. The evenings are lighter, and I'm feeling more inclined to stay out a bit, and maybe even do some riding for fun, rather than just race home and into my pyjamas.
And all the couriers seem to be losing weight. This isn't strictly true, of course - it's just that the weather's warming up and they're shedding all those bulky layers of clothing. When the winter was at its coldest, I found myself shivering in five layers, whereas recently I've occasionally stripped down as far as one. I've even seen some of the blokes riding around in sleeveless t-shirts.
And I'm getting a taste of how idyllic this job is going to be in the summer. There's not much work around at the moment (I must be spending just as much time hanging around on standby as I am riding), but that's OK, because it's now warm enough for me to loiter in a park for an hour without ending up frostbitten. The other day I found a sunny corner to while away the elevenses lull, and actually ended up dozing off for a bit, until my radio started shouting at me.
And of course, now I've passed the test, earned my spurs, and I'm a real courier! Or so I thought. I was discussing this with another old timer last week, and apparently you actually have to make it through two winters, in case the first one's an easy one. Pah.