Dimples and Long Boats

I’m NOT going to complain abut the hot weather, now that summer finally makes an appearance. Having said that, London is NOT pleasant in this heat. Currently the thermometer by the window next to my desk is telling me it’s 33 degrees outside, which is pretty excessive. London gets so muggy and within two minutes of having a cold shower this morning I felt sticky. Still, the sun is shining and I am happy and grateful! More, please! Even if it means temperatures north of an uncomfortable 30.

It’s been just over 20 years since I first arrived on these shores in my long boat, brandishing my sword, ready to conquer just like my Viking ancestors. Perhaps I didn’t wear a Viking hat, nor did I burn any villages, and OK I didn’t even have a sword, but I did arrive by ferry which, in 1995, was as close as I could get to a long boat. I would have got on a plane, but I’m impatient and there wasn’t any suitable flight available and I was going to go RIGHT NOW. Or then, rather. So I got my over excited 19-yearold self on to a ferry headed for Newcastle. Took best part of 24 hours and then another six from there getting to London on a train. And the summer of 1995 was just like this week – unbelievably hot, sticky and humid, temperatures frequently into the 30s.

I spent warm summer evenings with new found friends (most of whom were Aussies and Kiwis – a bunch of nannies from the same neighbourhood in Fulham, and their friends), swigging ‘Snakebite’ by the pint at local bars along New Kings Road, a sickening concoction of cider, lager and cranberry. I no longer drink it (you’d have to put a gun to my head) but in the summer of 1995 it was the drink of choice and to my naïve mind, the best beverage ever. During the days, I looked after a spoilt three-yearold girl, whose wild tantrums would ensure I snapped out of any Snakebite-related hangover. Gosh, that kid really was a minion of Satan and her blond, corkscrew locks only served to make her scarier. At least if she’d looked like the girl in the Exorcist, I would have found her easier to make sense of.

Anyhoo.

You do get these hotter-than-normal summers here. Another one was ten years ago. These days, Monkey is a slender boy, but rewind ten years and he was a fat little cherub that I was lugging around. All those rolls of fat on his widdle thighs, dimples instead of knuckles and chubby cheeks. When I look at photos, it’s so obviously Monkey, anyone could see that – there is no mistaking those huge blue eyes. Well, that was a hell of a hot summer and the other thing I remember was how toned my arms were. Sure, I weighed two stone less than I do now but gosh, carrying fat little baby Monkey around did mean I had arms any celebrity fitness coach would have applauded.

Just over two weeks left of my contract here at the school where I’ve been working part time since the beginning of this year. As handy as this job is and as much as there is a whole host of things I really love about it, there is that one person you seem to get in every goddamn workplace: the Office Dragon. Why is that? It’s true for almost every place I’ve worked. Always a woman, always a little older and is someone who’s been there since the dawn of time. Usually in middle management or in some kind of ‘special’ role that has evolved over time as they’re impossible to handle in any other way. And for some reason they’re untouchable. And we have one here too: rude, abrupt and her main goal in life is to meddle, stick her nose in and ideally trip people up. Be difficult for difficulty’s sake. And I won’t bloody miss HER. Mostly, she’s so rude it’s more comical than it’s upsetting.

Just texted B, telling him that it’s too hot in the office. His response? “Lick your wrist“. What?? This seems to be his cure for everything. Insect bites apparently also stop stinging or itching if you lick them. I was going to write something very rude just then, but it’s not even lunchtime so I’m going to stop right there……

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