For millennia, human beings have adapted successfully to colder climates by wearing clothes and shoes. Leathers, furs, the wool from farm animals, rubber and now synthetic polymers, have all been used to solve the basic problems of heat loss, and water repellency.
But despite the accumulated wisdom of generations, teenagers still leave the cave on a cold winters night without a coat or a decent pair of shoes. For as long as there have been clothes, there have been harassed adults telling teenagers to put something warmer on. No doubt somewhere up above the Arctic circle, there are Inuit teenagers walking about outside in T-shirts and trainers while Inuit parents yell at them.
Today I broke my winter hibernation and braved the horror of the January sales for the single purpose of getting Duncan a decent coat and a pair of boots that will withstand another two months of snow and ice.
What I want to buy: a coat that is warm, weatherproof and well made, shoes that have a sole with decent grip.
What a sixteen year old wants to buy: a coat that makes him look cool, a coat that folds away to the size of a postage stamp when he takes it off (or which actually vanishes into thin air), shoes that make him look six inches taller.
We battled long and hard, up and down the heaving aisles of January shoppers. But the task has been completed at last, and I can rest up for another year. I have fulfilled my parental obligation to purchase appropriate winter clothes for my ungrateful offspring, who will almost certainly entirely neglect to wear them.