44ºC in the sun and 33ºC in the house, and it’s just coming up to 7pm. Remind me, if you will, why it was that we chose southern Spain as the point on the globe with the climate that we felt would best suit us.
As I sit here semi-naked before my keyboard I am aware that I am slowly liquefying. There are little springs arising all about my person and running impatiently in rivulets to kiss the floor below my chair. My musculature lies torpid and unbiddable and my brain is melting and running out of my ears. The ceiling fan above me is swooshing round efficiently but the air it moves is too warm to be of much help. Pretty soon I’m going to have to drag my reluctant and bone-idle limbs off this chair to get a bowl of iced water for my feet – the only remedy that seems to work for me in this heat.
I made a vain attempt to siesta earlier, in a bid to make it comatose through the worst of the heat and to assuage in part my need for sleep so that I can be awake and functional at midnight and beyond when the cooler and fresher night air revives me. Alas, slumber eluded me as I lay fretting about all the furry and feathered children in my care. Ridiculous though it is, I worry when they’re kicking off but I worry more when they are deathly quiet.
So I heaved myself out to the bird house and spent a while showering the parrots. This is always given a mixed reception. Jack and Lucas absolutely adore it, and throw themselves bodily into the stream of water with their wings fully outstretched, heads down, shaking their tail feathers and making gratifying noises of appreciation. J.T. bears it but chatters crossly at me. Little Sweetpea darts around manically to avoid the water droplets, Oven-Ready sits and screams at the top of her lungs and Cookie stands on one leg and chews his nails worriedly. I carry on regardless and tell them how refreshing it is, while they observe me coolly as one would an insistent clown with a large lapel flower.
As I retreated from the parrot soup, I tripped over the hulk of Marcos lying across the doorway and, noting his laboured panting and voluminous slobbering, decided that he was sporting altogether too much hair. So I took him into the house with me – a rare treat that had his huge tail beating against doors, furniture, walls, me – until he realised that he was probably being conned since we were ending up in the bathroom. I shut the door before he could organise all parts of himself to turn and flee, so he flopped on the floor and regarded me with the sad eyes of the betrayed.
However, it was not the dreaded shower that I had in mind for him. Instead, I sat on the floor with him and set upon his long and straggly locks with John’s best hair clippers – sorry, ex-best hair clippers.
It took me the best part of an hour to do my worst. At the end of it, I would not be exaggerating if I told you that the mountain of blond hair (his, not mine) obliterated any sign of the loo in there. Fortunately, Marcos decided he quite liked the whole experience – all apart from the rather rapidly-executed foray into the dreadlocks of his underbelly near his private parts, which part of the exercise I regarded with as much trepidation as he did. So on the whole he stayed still enough for the entire process to be counted a success. Okay, I’m not likely to be considered the Vidal Sassoon of dog coiffure, but at least he’s (pretty much) the same length all over and there aren’t (too many) long straggly bits left. And he still has both eyes, the majority of both ears, and his sensitive bits.
He obviously appreciated the lightening of the load. When I took him back outside he jumped and gambolled in what he obviously thought to be the fashion of a spring lamb – an incongruous sight, given that he looked more like an elephant trying to be a dolphin.