Of course there are some good things about summer. Our cool, dark house makes more sense in this weather, for one thing. Also, when the fret and the panic recedes, which it usually does eventually, I like the slow, empty aimless way days spool out, measured out in abandoned cups of tea and breaks to watch the chickens and trips down to the cellar to look at the washing machine: suddenly it's eleven, then suddenly it's three, then suddenly it's seven and you're not quite sure how, but it doesn't really matter because there's tomorrow and tomorrow looks much the same, everyone in Belgium is on holiday, so no one needs to go to get up early. We can sit on the sofa, thighs rubbing on the scratchy stupid tweedy fabric, watching bad TV and eating Picard imitation Cornettos under the intensely pleading eye of the dog, who can hear the rustle of a Cornetto wrapper at 500 paces and who knows he has a decent chance - if he stares hard enough for long enough - of getting the tip.
I like the swifts screaming and swooping low in the street out front and the tortoises trundling purposefully around the yard out back, far faster than you might imagine and the chickens lying companionably in the deep dustbowl they have scratched out, occasionally shuffling a wing to create a little cooling dust shower.
I like riding the streets on the back of my beloved's motorbike in the evenings, teenage boy style, holding onto the bars at the back, feet dangling off the footrests, enjoying the momentary illusion of insouciance that brings even though we are old and fat and bits of us ache and niggle and we're thoroughly souciant - we're perpetually worried about one thing or another and often several things at once.
I like the hats round here at the moment, my god the hats. The guy with the bench - remember him - favours a leather cowboy hat, but he has a new rival in the form of a woman who wears a Napoleonic tricorne. Even more puzzling was this guy, spotted yesterday:
I like my mate, Bin Duck, always there, every morning when I walk the dog:
I like the much greater acceptability of weekday drinking, spritzes and some kind of cheap "natural" wine at the bobo market out of one of those thick glass school canteen tumblers, or watery mojitos in plastic beakers, all sugar and ice and two mint leaves that stick to your teeth.
I like my first cup of tea of the day, sitting outside in the shade because it's already hot, with all the smells of the garden: chicken and cut grass and a forgotten half cup of coffee and a soupçon of someone's last night's barbecue. Also, I wrote in my book about how there's a week in the summer here when the whole neighbourhood smells of honey and it's now, right now, even my basement smells of honey when I go down there to stand in the cool and slowly fold clothes, which I do a lot at the moment (#we'llalwayshavelaundry).
Sleep, though. Fuck, who can sleep in summer?
Last night's attempt.
Read until hit heavily on face by Kindle, dropping off. Turn out light. Attempt to sleep. I just fell asleep! This will be easy!
Some unhappy attempts to resolve the duvet or no duvet dilemma. I need the weight of the duvet but of course it is stifling. Duvet around knees? Around waist? One leg under one leg out? There is no satisfactory solution.
First pillow flip.
Usual sleeping position - I favour a left sided recovery position but with top leg really high - hurts hip. Shuffle. Find something vaguely comfortable. Knee starts hurting. Turn over. Try on other side. Whole body feels WRONG.
Second pillow flip.
Watch is too close to head and ticking disturbs me. Move hand. Hand goes numb. Shake hand around.
Something on my face clicking, like, my nose? Or mouth? Moving around to stop the clicking. Clicking continues. Why is my face clicking? What the fuck?
Find a non-clicking head position. Loud ticking watch problem recurs. Move hand. Pins and needles. Shake hand. Get over-heated.
Third pillow flip.
Pick at brexitfoot.
Fourth pillow flip.
Sudden surge of existential dread. Try to think about tea towels. I don't know why I decided this might work, but it is actually quite effective. No surge of dread can survive the listing of all the tea towels in the house. "The red stripe. The red and green stripe. The green checks. The pigeons. The weird Anthropologie one. The Betty's one." Can't you feel yourself starting to drop off?
Jerked out of near-sleep by EVIL DEATH MOSQUITO. He/she who has taken it upon him/herself to bite each one of my fingers in turn. Hide under duvet. Get too hot. Come out. Mosquito has been waiting. Get up. Find insect repellent. Lie on back in a citronella smear for a couple of minutes. Remember I can't sleep like that. Back to the side #1 recovery position. Switch to side #2.
Nine thousandth pillow flip.
Sleep for five minutes. Woken by one of: mosquito, husband thrashing, one of those dreams where you're falling off something and wake with a violent start.
Chest area (I'm being coy, you know what I mean) fills mysteriously with hot-cold sticky river of sweat.
Give in to despair. Review every terrible thing ever done. Examine deepest fears. Contemplate own death. Try to think about tea towels again.
Become distracted from despair by obsessively thinking about some minor logistical problem.
Scratch fingerbites and pick at brexitfoot in manner of rabid dog.
etc etc etc etc ad nauseam or ad finally fall asleep and have florid dreams about competition law (true).
30% Ammonia scent (bite remedy)
30% Unabated itch
10% Wig sweat
10% Nails of Shame
10% Rice paper roll addiction
10% Yes, I have succumbed to Pokemon Go and I am sorry, I love it. I used to work for a Pokemon card producing company in my law days and my knowledge of Pokemon circa 2001 is UNRIVALLED.
You? Sleep solutions, summer consolations, Pokemon addictions?