Yesterday was hard for me – and for many others too. Today? Even harder. I can quite see why the Underworld Realms were given extremes of flaming heat in ancient mythologies, and why roasting of humans is an archetypal religious punishment.
I struggle with high temperatures, especially in this country. But it is not just the physical suffering that has pre-occupied me over the past twenty-four hours: I have descended into a demon-packed Hell of my own, a place crammed with trident-bearing, horned nasties which poke and taunt and whip and find other ingenious ways to attack the edifice I am trying to build post-divorce.
I barely slept last night. The heat, despite open windows and doors and three showers, was borderline unbearable and has brought in its sullen train the whole host of buzzing, biting, itch-inducing insects that make the nocturnal world so vile at times. When you add Jumble to the mix, rapid escalation to complete emotional overload was but a sigh away.
The gate between kitchen and rest of house works on the practical level, but it does not, and can not, address the problem of separation anxiety (which both Jumbs and I are suffering from) and the frailties of extreme old age (dog more than me on that one). To put it simply, my beloved companion (increasingly blind, deaf and at sea in the world) is the epitome of insecurity when I am not in sight; he follows me everywhere he physically can and barks or howls when left alone at night.
I know there is a no-doubt-very-sensible philosophy that dictates ignoring such cries – both in babies and in pets – until the small and vulnerable creature learns to shut up; but, to be frank, I was never any good at this when it came to my own then-tiny child, and my ability to bear another being’s cries has not improved in the intervening years.
But I also feel, as I did back then, irritable and under-slept and, when roused for the third time at 1.30 am, more inclined to snarl than sympathise. I am not a saint, nor am I perennially good-tempered and nice. Heat can cause me to blow a gasket, aptly enough, and descend, like a screeching Barbarian tribe, upon the masses who have, inadvertently, stoked my boiler of rage.
My night was criss-crossed with a boiling blend of sympathy and nascent wished-for-canicide against my animal. I would never harm him – of course not – but can understand, in this torture of stifled airlessness and pain and panic and lack of sleep, why heat provokes both lust and violence.
Self-doubt multiplies in the early, hot, dark hours, doesn’t it? That and fear. That and the torment of that vast pull all we artists experience at some time or another: Between being kind to/supporting others and pulling out all the stops (even if some of them have the word ‘Ruthless’ written upon them) to advance one’s own cause, in my case the writing and publishing dream.
My inability to ignore the screams of my baby child echoes the equal lack of facility I have always had/experienced when it comes to ploughing ahead, with ruthless blindness, and advancing my own literary needs above the multifarious metaphorical cries of the larger world around me. It is very hard for me to believe that I come first in some respects; that I do not have to put up with those who want to tell me how to live my life (and, believe you me, I attract hordes of these individuals); that I have the right to repel all boarders whose energy is bullying or draining; that I am talented enough to stand with the best of them.
I woke, to a world gone deadly Summer-mad once more; a world in which a terrorist act of murder has been perpetrated – supposedly using, as excuse, revenge and the continuation of values of the Western lifestyle – against the Muslim Community. Nothing can justify such an act in my view. Rage? Hatred? Revenge? The effects of heat?
No. We all know that dogs can turn during these very hot days, can turn and bite viciously; can cause serious damage, even death. But we are not dogs. The same excuse cannot be used.
Come on: Hands up. How many of us, irrespective of our religious beliefs, were actually brought up to believe that wholesale slaughter was any kind of answer to life’s more problematic questions? I most certainly was not, and I am buggered if I will be wantonly included, albeit by inference, in a society, a religion, a so-called set of values, which actively DOES, and WAS.
I will be bloody relieved, I can tell you, when the current heat wave gives way to cooler weather – and, on the planetary current high terrorism level, when crazed and vengeful hot-headed spates of extreme violence give way to a cooler and saner approach to the problems that so divide our world.
Heat Hades indeed…