Wednesday, July 14, 2010

It's hot

I'm trying hard not to have last summer happen again. I'm consciously working towards a positive attitude to the heat. I'm having my tea on the balcony. I'm appreciating the nightly cold showers and am really not very bothered that my caldaia doesn't work. I'm careful not to move around too much in the early afternoon.

But it's hot. By anyone's standards except Africans, 31 degrees C. is hot.

Italian summer protocols:

1 - Be thin. If you are remotely overweight, the heat will be a misery for you. If you are poor, you can use both your poverty and the heat to your advantage by having them help you lose weight. You can get thinner by entirely losing your appetite because it is too damn hot to either eat or cook, and you are too poor to eat in an air conditioned restaurants every day. One of the first things stranieri notice when they come here is that the Italians are nearly all bird-thin. Tiny little sylph-like creatures (with inexplicably and horribly loud voices). There is a reason for this. All the fat people died in the early bronze age from the heat.

2 - Have a job where you can sit in air conditioning for large blocks of time.

3 - Have a place in your home where you can sit outdoors not doing anything like a balcony or garden.

4 - Live in a nice town that doesn't have bad air quality, too many tourists, filthy gypsy beggars, horrifyingly loud traffic and isn't entirely populated by crazy people who want to swindle you and then kill you with their motorini and laugh while you lie there bleeding, wondering why you didn't stay in England isn't Rome. Live in a town that has lots of birds, flowers, gardens, sea breezes and nice friendly people who will sometimes give you a free gelato when you're looking down.

5 - Have a freezer. (I don't have a freezer. Not even the little one built into the top of my fridge. The reason for this is obscure, but when I asked the landlord to get me one he looked doubtful in that inimitable Italian way that says 'why are you bothering me with this trivial thing? Can't you see I'm busy loafing around and having a good time?', and said he would try. Try? TRY!? Just effing go and effing buy one! What the hell is the damn problem...?!


Anyway, if you have a freezer, the thing to do is to take a 2 litre plastic pop bottle of water and freeze it. When the temperature suddenly rises at 3 am, as it does, and you wake up in the night gasping for air, you take the bottle of ice, wrap it in a tea towel and take it to bed with you under a sheet. The ice cools the air under the sheet. It's like air conditioning for your bed.)

5 - Buy a fan. The folding kind that you can carry around with you in your hand bag. If you are a boy, I don't know what to tell you; you can't carry a fan. Sorry, but it's a rule. Learn to sit next to women with fans I guess.

6 - Carry a damp flannel in a plastic bag in your handbag. This can be re-cooled at any fountain and applied to the face, neck and arms at will. Buy a large supply of flannels, so you can take a clean one with you every day. Once again, boys = no hand bags. Sorry. Just dunk your head in every fountain you see and be grateful you don't have to worry about spoiling your makeup.

7 - Cultivate a Kwai Chang Cain Zen-like state of mind in which the heat cannot get inside you. You feel the heat, but it remains on the outside of you. The inside of you remains normal, serene and non-sweaty. I am working on this, and I think it can be achieved if you don't think too much about hot things, like being wrapped in large sheets of velvet dipped in warm treacle...

I think it's time to go to the air conditioning office.


Anonymous said...

The air conditioning for the bed idea is brilliant and I can't wait to try it tonight here in steamy NYC where my slumlord won't allow a/c units because the wiring is so bad in the building. I'm fortunate to have a freezer (and now I'll use it for something other than take-out chinese food that's waiting for the garbage).

I imagine too that there are many churches that offer a nice cool retreat.


Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

I used to take naps in the catechism room underneath St. Mary's Basilica in Halifax when it was too hot to sleep at home. Hfx gets surprisingly hot in summer, and I was friends with the sacristan.

Fr. T. said...

The Italians have always hated the heat. When Constantine built St. Peter's he also built a covered walkway from the Basilica to the nearest city gate. Ditto for San Lorenzo. In fact the whole point of the early basilicas was to provide a cover, so that you could bury your dead and commemorate them without the sun beating down on your head. Constantine the Nice.

D Cummings McLean said...

Karl Lagerfield has a fan. (*flees*)

Anonymous said...

But the folding fan - invented in the Far East - was carried mostly by men (fans used in dance don't count)! Women typically used screen fans.

For some reason it became an exclusively female accessory after it was imported to Europe in the 15th century. Europeans just keep messing around with Asian stuff. Probably why they put milk in tea too :P