Monday, 29 June 2009

Hot and sticky on Monday...

Please, mother of life, let it rain.

Susannah came back into the office after her lunch break, announcing “Hey, dragonflies rock!” – she’s been eating by the waterlily pool outside the Jodrell Laboratory and topping up her tan. Me, I cowered indoors all through my break, avoiding the sudden, sweltering heat. It’s too darned hot for me. I’ve taken to wearing my loosest and most floaty clothes, which today means a floppy pink gingham dress that makes me look pregnant and shows off my less than perfectly toned arms. I’ve just been in the ladies’, running cold water over my wrists and the backs of my hands. I’m befuddled enough by the temperature and the mugginess that I got confused by the taps, which admittedly are counter-intuitive – I’ve only been using them for a year, after all – and couldn’t turn the water off at all for a messy, wet, panicked moment.

I read the Geek in The Gambia's accounts of the heat there and know I couldn’t handle that, not unless the only other option were instant termination. Heat and humidity combined really sap me; they wipe up my energy and spit me out like a dead fly. Maybe I'll never see a real rainforest.

To crown it all, it’s turned grey; I don’t even have the beauty of dry, golden-baked Kew Green in the sunshine to look at. It looks as if it’s going to rain; please, goddess, lady of the west, guardian of water, autumn and evening, let it rain.

It rained yesterday – I was out in the garden, transplanting petunias and portulacas into the last of the pots, sweating and filthy in shorts and an ancient suntop, when suddenly there was a little murmur of a breeze, and as I straightened up thinking “That’s often the preamble of rain”, the first drops began to fall. Then more drops. And more. For a good five minutes it went on in this vein, with single huge drops falling one by one, as if the gods were flicking rain at me from their fingers instead of pouring it out wholesale. Each drop struck with a distinct sound – ping if it hit the barbecue, slap if it hit the table, bong if it hit the roof of next door’s shed, a dusty pflutt on the paving, plip if it hit a leaf. I went on working, and the raindrops hit me, too (I also go plip, which is interesting – does this mean I am a plant at heart?). Each drop was cold, blissfully cold; and on striking, each one spread over my skin with a trickly splatter. It was like being licked on the run by invisible, airbourne, slobbery elf dogs.

I came to the last of the pots, a twelve-inch green-glazed ceramic job, and upended it to chuck out the mass of old dead leaves accumulated inside, and got a bizarre shock. It was full of cutlery. Spoons – about fifteen spoons of different sizes and designs – four butter knives (who uses butter knives? - no surprise that no-one missed them), a pair of nutcrackers that look as though something tried to eat them, and a bizarre gadget shaped like a pair of lobster claws, which I think is a fancy beer-bottle opener. The spoons are mostly corroded 1940s and ‘50s EPNS of varying elegance (or lack thereof) though a few are stainless steel. One spoon says “Potosi Silver” proudly on the back – though as it is probably the worst corroded of the lot I am left dubious as to what kind of "Silver" this is. I’ve cleaned and disinfected the stainless steel, as we are short of spoons, but I doubt if much can be done to save the electroplate. But why? – why?!? It was perfectly good cutlery once – why hide it in a flowerpot? People are so very odd sometimes.

Then it began to rain in earnest, and even I was driven indoors, though I held out until I was good and wet. Oh to be in England, now that summer’s here…

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