There is still cause for aestivating. The temperature has not dropped below 26 degrees centigrade since I complained to you last time. In my defence - against all of you who love the heat, of course - I offer the plea that I have never had a wish to hibernate and positively enjoy the cold weather. I thought that at three score and a lot more than ten years old my blood would have thinned and I would better be able to tolerate the soaring temperatures. It hasn't. In an attempt to thwart the Wizard of Discomfort, I went with the Father of my children on a river cruise in aid of a very worthwhile charity. Advantages: cool breezes, wonderful views, even of Tower Bridge being opened to let our tall mast through, and interesting fellow travellers. Disadvantages: 30 degrees and no shade. Worse than that, the outing was described as a breakfast cruise with a recital by a dear, young soprano friend thrown in as an incentive. However, breakfast and singing were to take place below deck, access to which was via a flight of stairs that had a gradient of one in one. That's right. You heard: one in one. In other words, a ladder. The ladder was decked out as pretend stairs, in that it had steps of about four inches wide, covered in something or other. Give or take a hyperbole or two, it was a ladder. To add insult to certain injury, the 'facilities' were also below. Picture Liz, stick in hand, steppping gingerly over various coils of ropes and impedimenta, nothing supportive to hold on to, surveying the prospect of spending the next several hours hungry, needing the Ladies, gently boiling in the unshadowed noonday sun. Actually, gently boiling probably equates to simmering, wouldn't you say? Got the picture? There was but one solution: Keep Calm and Carry on.
As a habit, I am a veritable Girl Guide in my 'be preparedness'. My carry-on bag holds an umbrella which doubles as a parasol during aestivation and a bag of nuts or whatever to guard against hunger at any time. On this occasion, in the interest of glamour, I had dispensed with the basics and in the bag had only half of a forgotten banana, a great deal the worse for hanging about, and a shawl to cover the opposite contingency to the one I was facing - freezation. I told myself all bad things come to an end and prayed they or I would come to that end before soon. The soprano was deeply sympathetic about my access dilemma and brought me a plate of food. I took it from her and put it down beside me while I divested myself of my bags and freed my hands. You've guessed. Crash, bang ,splatter, there was my plate up-ended on the deck. I thought I was too old for embarrassment: I'm not. But I applied a touch of Mindfulness and allowed myself to be tidied up without recourse to an outpouring of apologies. When we moored temporarily,on the way back, waiting for our time to dock, Himself and I dis-embarked across a miniscule stretch of Thames and went to an adjacent hotel to deal with nature and whatever. It was not my best mannered moment nor my most ingratiating and I doubt I shall ever be asked again, but needs must when the Wizard of Overheating prevails. When I was forty I'd have shimmied up and down that ladder like any monkey you have ever met, bearing sausage and scrambled egg in one hand and my carry-on bag in the other. As it was, the only carrying on I achieved was the inevitable brouhaha I created by my elderly incapability to run the course as it was presented." O dee meah", as my baby son would have said when rueing his day. Prynhawn da