The mind-crushing heat wave ended early this week, and for the first time, I can approach the keyboard without fear my dripping brow will cause 240 volts to race up my arms.
By anyone’s standards, that heatwave was a killer. I can still hear the agapanthuseses groaning and gnashing their teeth.
I swear that some days, I’d leap maniacally out the back door and make a mad lunge to the back yard to let the chooks out and the heat was so intense it seemed to have actual weight. It hammered the top of your head and your shoulders felt they were suddenly pressed down with something like a 20kg bag of chicken feed.
For almost two weeks, the house has been shut tight to try to keep radiant heat out. Even the corgis lost the capacity to do anything more energetic than crunch ice blocks. Games of Frisbee, Pigsy and Speed Racer were physically and mentally impossible.
We all went a bit cabin crazy, but there was one discovery: what to do when you’re stuck in the slowly-baking house for more than a week?
First, you watch the tennis, cricket, cycling, country music awards until you are no longer capable of hitting the remote and you start to drool on the carpet.
Then you (this happened) reorganise your freezer, so that all the plastic trays of food are organised by both size and food group. Small packs of chicken at the top, chops at the front in the middle, fish somewhere where I can’t see it. Peas where Mrs Whacked can’t see them.
This activity took up half an afternoon.
When even the idea of a glass of white wine is too taxing, get some ice cubes the corgis have yet to lick and put them in beer and time their disappearance.
Get out that great chaos of coins you always intended to organise into something that looks like an actual collection and organise them. Any which confuse you go into the Miscellaneous tin, which now weighs about 15 kilograms.
The next day, look in your socks and undies drawers. Weird stuff goes on in there. Why do we keep old undies and socks long after their Best By date? They are merely reminders of how shambolic your life really is. You will never wear those saggy white sports socks with a hole big enough to poke your entire big toe through.
And think of your Mum’s advice. How would you feel if you had a car crash and the ambos found you wearing faded undies with broken elastic and holes in inappropriate places? Out they go.
Early the next morning nip out and buy an entire fortnight’s worth of new socks and undies for about the price of one pub lunch. Oh yeah – then have a pub lunch.
The socks then had to be rolled and organised in the drawer. Colour coded. When you slide out the drawer, instead of looking like a charity shop’s rag bag, the display is soothing, and you feel that perhaps you could survive just one more degree.
That’s probably what happened to that charming young South Korean tennis chap, Hyeon Chung. If he’d had his socks organised maybe wouldn’t have finished up with a weeping blister hole which looked like a croc had taken a chunk out of him.
Now, for a week or so at least, the heat’s off, games of Speed Racer have resumed, there’s little sport on TV, our frozen food, socks and jocks are almost obsessively neat.
For the next heatwave, we’re planning exciting things to do with cobwebs, an organisational assault on the spare room wardrobe and having another attempt at reading Patrick White’s Tree of Man.