It is hot. It is way too hot. We are living in pitch blackness, stumbling our way around the house, as I have closed all the shutters. We wear cold wet flannels strapped to our foreheads and every 7 minutes we all jump in the icy shower and scream with delight. We can’t even dip into our little pool outside as a) we risk sudden death from heat exposure just walking down the steps to the garden, and b) there is a major wasp congregation around the pool, what with the rivers and lakes all being dried up. The wasp president has clearly designated out little pool as L.W.D.A. (Legal Wasp Drinking Area), which means getting anywhere near the water involves at least five stings on the lower half of the body. We eat ice cubes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are so many fans on that the house could take off at any moment. When you open the door and step outside it’s like stepping into an oven on full blast. I had forgotten how much I detest the summer here in the south Ardèche.
The only breather we get from this sauna is when we go to a friends’ proper, big, wasp-free pool or when we go swimming in the Ardèche river, down by the famous Gorges. But this involves a car drive of course. Our old car has no air-conditioning so by the time we get anywhere the kids have shrivelled up to half their size. And our bigger, newer car is so big that I daren’t drive it through the tiny archway in the village (an entire, huge, bitter article is soon to be written on this subject), which means parking it up on the village square and hauling kids, bags, buggy, bottles of water, armbands, towels, beach toys, picnic stuff to and from the house, resulting in serious dehydration for all involved and a hefty slice of hatred for the person responsable for buying this car in the first place, without checking the f***ing dimensions first.
I am trying hard to be philosophical. What are the positive elements of living in such dreaded heat? Well, we are (very) slowly becoming acclimatised and so will be more prepared for the effects of global warming. Hang on – this probably IS the effect of global warming. And … erm … our skin is smooth from so much sweating. That’s about it in the way of upsides. I dream of cool English summers. I fantasise about gloomy, grey, rainy days. I pray to the Storm Gods to send one down right this instant. I keep putting washing out to tempt them. Alas, they couldn’t care less. They’re too busy playing jim-rummy up there. They seem to be so absorbed in the game that they’ve forgotten we need some moisture down here. Our “lawn” is now African scrubland. The roses on the rose bushes are ready for a dried flower display. My tomatoes are so dehydrated that all I need to do is bung them in a jar and add some olive oil. The farmers are pulling their hair out with worry and dancing about the countryside naked as a last resort to getting some rain to fall. But the forecast predicts sun, sun, heat, heat, heat and some more sun with extra lashings of heat. I don’t think I’m going to make it through the summer. I might have to take the kids to the North Pole for a holiday, but then maybe we’ll drown as I’m sure the iceburgs must be melting up there.
What to do? I have no idea. Grin and bear it. Strap another wet flannel on. Crack open another tray of ice cubes. Invent a hat with a downwards-pointing fan. Where is Caractacus Potts when I need him? Which reminds me; we watched Chitty Chitty Bang Bang last night. I had forgotten about the Child Catcher (both Tommy and I had nightmares last night) and I had also forgotten Benny Hill who makes a star appearance as the kindly toymaker (impossible to watch without imagining the Benny Hill music in the background and a string of scantily-clad women about to burst out of the toy workshop’s cupboards and trapdoor), and appears in some scenes with his moustache half hanging off. In fact, watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was the one thing that took my mind off the heat. So maybe that’s a solution : a huge Amazon order of old films to see me through until September, to be watched sitting in the dark, or in a bucket of ice-cubes. Aaaahhh.
Any alternative suggestions for coping with the temperatures are welcome.