So that was a long enough winter, wasn’t it? About 9 months by my reckoning. Well, that was how long I had to have my heating on, anyway – from the start of September until almost the end of May. I would normally reckon to have it on for about 5, so that seems pretty long. I’m trusting that it has actually come to an end – I caught a BBC weatherman talking about a return to dank and dismal conditions in my part of the UK next week, but it looks as if the temperatures will at least be holding up reasonably well.
I actually didn’t mind having a proper winter for a change. I’m not a huge fan of ice, but I find cold weather infinitely preferable to hot weather. At least when it’s cold there are easy things to do to get more comfortable – put more clothes on, essentially. The opposite – taking clothes off – isn’t always enough. Lying stark bollock naked in my flat with all the windows wide open in the middle of the night and still being way too hot to sleep is one of the most profoundly miserable experiences I know.
I am always astonished when I see people saying that they actually like hot weather. It’s oppressive, you can’t do anything without becoming instantly covered in a dilute solution of your own piss (you do know that’s what sweat is, yes?), and it’s so bright that, even with sunglasses on, it actually hurts to open your eyes outdoors. As I write this (in a small, dark corner of my flat) the grass outside is festooned with people grilling themselves in the sun. I’ve never seen the point of this as a leisure activity. Possibly this is because, when I was growing up, we always took our family holidays in October, in Wales. Sitting in a car on a windswept and rain-lashed hillside eating peanut butter sandwiches speaks of rest and relaxation to me in a way that a fortnight in the sun does for most other people.
In this kind of weather I daydream about escaping to Thurso, the most northerly town in Britain with a train station in it:
I mean, doesn’t this weather sound like heaven (apart from the humidity)?
Or is that just me?
There are compensations to the summer, of course. I’m a big fan of long, light, warm evenings. In fact, a summer evening in a quiet country spot with a bottle of chilled white wine, watching the sun go down and then spotting the stars as they start to break through, is probably about as good as life gets. Better, of course, if I had someone to share it with – sitting on a dusky hillside drinking booze with someone else shows you’re a romantic: doing it on your own shows you’re a lonely alcoholic.
(When I was a student, I went for an evening walk once, onto the hills surrounding the town. I met an elderly man there – he was sitting with a bottle of cider, looking out over the town, and the sun sinking into the earth beyond it, and the long shadows being thrown over the fields below. We got chatting, and he asked me if I would like to stay with him; he promised he would look after me, and make sure I was always happy. I said no, and went back to my life in the town. He’ll be dead now.)
In other news, I seem to be getting rather paranoid again. I’m not quite at the stage of thinking that I am at the centre of a surveillance operation yet, but I’ve become hyper-aware of every casual glance thrown in my direction, and of the people in the next building over who lean out of an open window to smoke, and seem to be staring fixedly at me every time I catch sight of them.
I seem to have started, without really meaning to, planning the possibility of an escape. I have a powerful urge to get away, and have been giving a lot of thought to ways that I could slip away without appearing on CCTV – tricky, given that every door into and out of my building is covered. But once I got away from here I could manage it – especially with a series of minicab journeys, being picked up and dropped in places without coverage, and walking for as much as I could manage.
There’s a beech wood not far from where my parents used to live, where my mum would push my eldest brother in his pram when he was new. She used to take a rug, and they would lie flat on their backs, looking at the leaves moving far above their heads, and the flashes of blue sky showing through. I want to go there now, and rest my head in the fork of roots at the bottom of a trunk, and stare up and up and up, and just breathe.
I won’t though. Sorry for the scrappy, all-over-the-place post. I’m feeling weird – brittle and strange, and pulled in a thousand directions simultaneously. But I’m fine, really. Not sure what the update schedule here will be like, though.