We should do more of this

Monday July 3, 2006

There was a rather horrid set of wardrobes and a large chest of drawers in the second bedroom on the top floor of the house this morning. Ghastly old flat-pack things in faux mahogany, smelly, much used and rather dilapidated. They were gifted to us by the previous owners, much to Graham’s disgust. And mine. They’re not there any more.

“Are you sure about this?” I said as I collapsed in a major wilt on my bentwood chair by the wide open french doors.

“Oh, yes. I said I’d do it, and do it I shall.”

“Well, alright, then. Just don’t go getting overheated, and give me a shout when you want tea.”

So, off he went, clutching his little IKEA toolbox and a lot of determination, to start dismantling the nasty objects. By then, with the draft from the french doors wafting up the staircase and out through the open windows on the first and second floors, the house was really rather pleasantly cool by comparison with the searing heat outside. So, although a few angry words at reluctant screws and fixings floated down to the ground floor, they weren’t to do with the temperature.

It was the searing heat that’d done for me, I’m afraid, most especially the searing heat we’d encountered in Sainsbury’s car park. Being fair, even Graham found that to be a bit of a trial, the main difference being that he recovered almost the instant he got out of the sun.

As for me, well, it took a little longer for me. I sat at the table in the breeze, slowly cooling down, keeping as still as I could. It’s not that it’s so especially hot when you’re out of the sun. No, it’s that it has gone on for so long, and shows no sign of breaking in the immediate future. Both the government and the Met. Office have started issuing heatwave warnings now, and the NHS is gearing up to look after those who will, inevitably, suffer from heat-related illness. It’s all very well for people like Graham and me, who’ve installed or are planning to install some form of domestic airconditioning. We can, with care, afford to buy and run it. There are many, many old folks who can’t, and they’re the ones who are suffering most.

Rich or poor, however, there’s no escaping the heat of the sun in places like Sainsbury’s car park. It took me close on an hour to get back my equilibrium after my short spell out in that.

“Right,” Graham said, bounding down the stairs. “Time for a tea break, please. I’ve done the chest and the first of the wardrobes. Just the last wardrobe to do and I’ll start schlepping the bits down so’s they can sit in the garage before going off to the dump.”

“Okey dokey. You’ve done awfully well, and you don’t look to be too hot. I’m glad about that. Sit down for a minute and I’ll brew a good, strong cuppa. Nothing like a nice cuppa on a hot day.”

“You look as though you’ve cooled down, too. Even so, it’s too hot for you to do any work.”

“‘Fraid so. I feel bad about it but there’s nothing I can do except wait for the end of the hot spell.”

“Don’t worry about it. Nice tea, Grommit.”

He went back up, finished the demolition, and started carrying the pieces downstairs to stack them against the garden fence. The smaller pieces I was able to carry around to the garage, going very slowly and resting after each trip. Graham doesn’t do the resting thing, however, and stuck to the task until it was done.

Then, deciding that the afternoon was still too hot to contemplate a trip to the waste recycling centre today, we washed up and sat down to our lunch. The cool air wafted through the french doors, making it a hard job to think of getting up and braving the heat outside once more.

“It doesn’t come much better than this,” Graham said. “When we’ve done the garden this is going to be a wonderful place to sit on a hot day.”

“Sure is. It’ll be a rather special place to sit on a cold day, too.”

“Can’t wait. Soon as things cool down again we’ll get stuck in to the job of painting the coloured walls and moving you and Dolly in.”

It’s a major irritation to me, this hiatus, waiting for things to cool down again. I’m being sensible, though, and shall keep my physical activity to an absolute minimum, aiming to enjoy summer the best I can. I’m not doing too much thinking about it, or about anything, really. It’s pleasantly cool in the caravan, shaded as it is by the tall hedges and trees; Dolly and I snooze happily through the hot part of the days, soothed by the gentle whirring of electric fans and dreams of cooler times to come.

We had a minor Dr Who festival before dinner, sipping a rather good Aussie chardonnay from Banrock Station and catching Graham up on the episodes he’d missed. At the climax, with the onset of both Cyber Men and Daleks, he sat rigid, comfort cushion clutched to his chest, wide-eyed with horrified excitement.

I spat out the corner of my own comfort cushion, on which I’d been biting hard. “Pretty good, huh?” I remarked.

“Understatement of the year, that is. Cyber Men and Daleks and things that go bump in the night. Hard to beat. We should do more of this.”


An unwanted gift


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