Too Darn Hot


Everyone is saying this is the hottest summer in fifty years. Since May the temperatures have consistently been in the high 30s, and as often as not way over 40. That’s degrees centigrade. And it’s pretty much all anyone’s talking about now, because we’ve all had our brains fried. Seville has the infamy of being chalked up as Spain’s Hottest Place Twice, reaching 51 degrees in 1876 and 1881. A lot of people said that was down to crap thermometers and doubted this was possible – well, they’re not doubting it now.
Ordering a small lorryload of gravel and six bags of concrete at Lobato’s earlier today I noticed Marisol had given up chainsmoking and was just doing the ordinary smoking, and that the bucket on the pavement outside to catch the condensation from the air-conditioning was overflowing and it was only 10 o’clock. She said it would be alright if after three or four impossible days there were a couple of cool ones, but there never are. This is full-on marathon hot. In every doorway in Algodonales there’s a person fanning themselves and mumbling dios mio and ay calor and so on, and wiping sweat from their brows like they’re extras in a stage production. You can see old women sitting inside dark rooms with their knees apart and their skirts hoisted up. No one can be bothered to swim in the lake.
Anyway, it was pretty cool in Lobato’s so I hung around looking at floor tile cleaning fluids for a while, and then drove home the long way round with the aircon whacked down to 14 as slowly as I could. I remember looking across to this farm at the beginning of May and thinking how green it all looked. Today, the third month it’s been over 30, and the third consecutive day that’s been that winning combination of suffocatingly hot and ominously overcast, the ground is straw and the sky, a kind of lavender. The property belongs to my neighbour, and her father is just about the father (or grandfather, great grandfather) of every living soul in the somewheresville hamlet (bar myself, obviously, as far as I know). I live in the house that she was born in when there was no electricity, running water, or roads. Sonia, her daughter, sings Led Zep covers in a rock band but does make extremely good goats’ cheese.

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