A deafening thud resounds up the stairs of Dixon Manor as something large and very heavy lands on the doormat.
Could it be the snow, falling inwards and crushing an incautious child as it opens the front door en route to a sledging expedition?
Could it be a daily newspaper, packed from start to finish with such glories of the sub-editor’s art as “Snow joke!”, “The white stuff!”, “It’s a white-out!”, “Continental drift!” or “Why oh why is our public transport so flaky? (Geddit?)”?
Well, if truth be told the almighty thump occurred a couple of days before the perfect storm hit Bath and its environs in all its scrunchy whiteness.
No, this was the sound of Mrs D’s vegetable seed catalogues hitting the floor, bringing her the promise of natural abundance come the summer at the cost of little more than a few pennies and a springtime of unceasing labour.
And leaving the postie with a small hernia.
There was a time when January was holiday brochure month. That was in the days when people could afford more than three nights in a chilly guesthouse in Frinton-on-Sea for their annual getaway.
These days, we don’t get junk mail from Thomson Holidays: it comes from Thompson & Morgan.
Come to think of it, they may be the same people, even if they're not quite spelled the same way.
Picture if you will the scene in the boardroom of Thomson and Thompson Conglomerates Inc.
Young Mr Thomson – 82 years in the business, white hair and a palsied hand – is at his wits’ end.
“What are we to do?” he quavers. “No one’s going abroad, no one can afford euros, the world’s going to hell in a handbasket!”
“We need to diversify, Dad,” says Mr Thompson Junior, chairman-in-waiting at 54, and still considered too hot-headed for corporate responsibility.
“People these days are into growing things,” he adds. “They want a sense of achievement out of their lives, not just two weeks on a beach in the Med.”
(Actually it’d be nice to have both, but we’ll let that pass.)
“Well, maybe you’re right,” says Young Mr T. “Tell Blenkinsop in Publicity to print up some envelopes with tomatoes on the front, and we’ll give it a whirl.”
Meanwhile Marshall’s, D.T. Brown, Edwin Tucker and a host of others have jumped on the bandwagon.
Each one more glossy than the next, their catalogues promise infinite vegetable variety.
They vie with each other with Boothby’s Blonde (a small white cucumber) and with Flamboyant Sabina (a radish). They tussle with Minipop, with Yellow Moon, with Bullnose Red, and with The Sutton (you’ll have to guess).
There’s so much horticultural choice, and so much culinary promise, that Mrs D’s eyes glaze over and she has to go for a little lie-down.
Have no fear, Messrs Thompson and the rest. Your shareholders’ future is safe with us.