Just Me and Toad

Well who would believe it! That movable roof at Wimbledon was used because apparently London was having bad weather. It was the Andy Murray match which everyone except me seems to have been watching. Apparently it was very exciting but Andy complained about the temperature in the newly enclosed space saying that it made him very sweaty. Nice.

Down here, South of London, in the World’s most perfect place, Sussex, we just had very hot again…..very hot yesterday, very hot tomorrow and so it will go on they say at least until the end of the week.

I have decided that I like very hot.

I love the way it makes everyone drop a gear or two, show a bit of leg and think of things other than work even whilst they are working. None of us should really do very much on days like today. Maybe sweating like Andy Murray is enough.

The temperature here is rising dramatically – so much that it reminds me of those summer days in America’s Deep South or that day in Seville when only idiots like me were out at midday as the temperature soared to over 50 degrees Celsius – a record apparently, half way to boiling point.

Outside my window there is total silence – no wind, no birdsong and no traffic. It is like that moment in meditation when you leave yourself behind.

I remember once, as an impressionable teenager, waking up very late on a day like this at home on my own. I felt hot and languid – well I was a teenager – so I sleep-walked through some desultory activities like finding something inappropriate for breakfast, putting on some clothes found on the floor in my bedroom – I always chose stuff I didn’t wear yesterday on the presumption that they would smell cleaner – and, just possibly, brushing my teeth.

I was living about a five minutes walk from the sea – the English Channel – so I thought this was the perfect day to read a long book on the beach with a few excursions into the cool water for a bit of slow motion swimming.

Leaving the house, I noticed that, not only was it skin-toastingly hot but all the roads were devoid of traffic. I was surrounded by silence.

At first I thought how cool, then I thought I wonder why no one is around, then I started to go into sci-fi mode. What if…….?

I crossed a couple of roads, obediently looking for oncoming traffic but there was nothing. On the second crossing I looked down – I don’t know why.

Next to my orange flip-flops, I remember them well, next to my feet, so close in fact that I could so easily have trodden on it, next to me, as if it too was looking out for traffic, was the only life form I had seen that day. A very large blinking toad.

Why? A toad on a pavement waiting to cross a road on a day when the World seemed to have died.

For just a moment, really, honestly, only a very short moment, I just thought, maybe the World has ended. Maybe it is just me and the toad now.

Then a car drove by and shattered the dream.

I was pleased that the toad didn’t hop in front of it. In the movie it would have got splatted.

After that, other cars appeared and I even saw one or two people but, just for a moment, I really did have the World to myself. I really liked the idea too.

I haven’t been out yet today but, somehow, even though I haven’t heard any other life, I am sure they are out there, all those people, but I often try to recapture that feeling of isolation because, in so many ways, when it comes to that final curtain, we are really all alone and it is useful to know how that feels.

I hope the sun is shining on all of you out there too.

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