The weather has put a spell on us. People who once were rational, and reasonable cannot stand to be in a conversation. Tight lipped smiles from receptionists and cashiers, brightly voiced telephone marketers, fellow sweaty motorists: they are all having to take the brunt of our unhappiness. Everyday everyone speaks about the weather. Will it ever break? Have you heard there is another heat wave on the way? Did you hear about the temperatures in Madrid? Everyone’s hair is frizzy. The air con, if you have it, has given you a cold, so you have heat exhaustion and a runny nose. No one has an appetite, not for food, nor work. The heat has removed all ambition or purpose. Hey Speedy, what’s the hurry?
As the sun goes down so should the temperatures. But not in our stone walled house. Like a pizza oven it conserves the heat long past sunset. The coolest place to be is on the streets, or in the village pool. We read that beer is almost as good at rehydrating as water, this is good news for local custom so ice cold cañas all round.
Deep in the night, when the air should have cooled it is still as thick as treacle. Hardly anyone is sleeping. Instead we lie under fans like goldfish out of their bowls, gasping for air. Even the lucky ones that sleep comes to are being conned. It’s a fitful, fretful version of sleep, like a colicky baby. We wake, we turn, we drink some water; we cannot bear to touch the clammy skin of our bed partners. We shower and return to bed dripping with water, thrilled that for a few minutes we will find relief as the air from the fan blows across our dampened skin. Then we sleep again, a little. We wake, we turn, we sleep. Sometimes we dream. But the dreams are confused, anxiety dreams of losing children, or missing a train dressed only in our underwear. When we wake, emerging from a dark water pool into the morning we are wet through. When we rise we leave behind salty traces on the bed sheets where our limbs once were.
Impossible to believe that three months ago we had electric blankets and heaters on. The jumpers and long trousers are folded up away in a cupboard, guarded by mothballs and plastic wrappers. It seems so long ago.
By Vicki McLeod