Hot in the sun, cold in the shade, it must be April. In Olivia’s home village it’s snowing. It seems like April is capricious everywhere. But the fresh leaves stretch out towards the light and simultaneously hang down towards the ground as the trees and flowers release their seeds on the wind, all of it is necessary. The flies have arrived, the bigger ones that come with summer, no bees or wasps yet, just early flies, too early for their own good, seduced by a wisp of warmth. Flying in through open windows that were closed while they slept, now doorways into breeding grounds. The dusk bats must be getting excited at their spring food source, the swallows at twilight and the hiding spiders desperate after a long winter of damp starvation.
Yellow patches in the grass are turning green, the gardeners are about to get busy, mowing, weeding, nurturing, watering, planting. T-shirt sales will be up, flip flops, swimmers, suntan cream and ice cream, not to be confused. Small children are allowed out, hours of supervised fun in a plastic pool. Pop, fizzy, iced tea and beer flow into tall glasses and disappear into hot bodies to cool them down. It’s coming, slowly but definitely and this time there will be mingling, package holidays, foreign beaches, sand between the toes and red skin overcooked.
The welcome return of longed for crowds in exotic places that are only functioning when they are simultaneously being ruined by rowdy drunks and booming pizza parlours. The serenity of life without them is a death knell, despite the improvement of the silence. Postcards, sombreros, a fez, a beret and a Doncaster accent echoing down the boulevard. Hiring bikes, overeating, losing the sunglasses and questioning the water from the tap.
The sea laps against the shore and crashes against the jagged rocks on the island, the boat arrives and leaves twice a week, restocking and removing the revellers. There are dolphins here, whales, sharks and plastic cups disintegrated in the water. Garish short-sleeved shirts and outrageous bikinis holding in a year of unhealthy dinners. Arriving pale and returning burnt to a cinder, admiring that dark tanned local who knows when to be out and when to be in. There are encounters, there’s laughter and sorrow, regrets and relief.
At night the women in two and the men in three pieces of clothing and footwear, dancing to horrible songs. In the chalet an insect you’ve never seen before, larger, with more legs than usual, tentacles longer than the body and travelling faster than light in the dark, scurrying across the unnecessary flimsy sheet. Someone’s allergic to the giant mosquitos, ankles swelling up and scabbing. Outside the noise never stops from the night before’s exuberant guests and there’s an early start for the restocking of the businesses. Giant plastic bins of bottles tipped into rusty trucks, grinding their gears and reversing and beeping at 7 AM.
The last day arrives so fast, almost as fast as the wallet empties, the flight’s delayed and you board dressed for last night’s disco and arrive in Manchester or Hannover, shivering at the baggage carousel. Or, at the airport, you’ve lost your passport, missed the plane, can’t get to the consulate that’s in another town to explain your plight and can’t afford another five days whilst your paperwork is sorted. Or, you arrived and what you thought you bought was nothing like what you saw when you arrived. At least the hotel was built.
You come prepared with essential words memorised about food and trips but nobody understands your accent when you try to speak and the response is in English, destroying your fantasy that you can speak another language. You love dogs but outside your window, there’s howling all night for two weeks. It’s too hot to sleep in and you’re too tired to go out. Eventually, you give in and fry yourself on a sunbed. Yippee, spring is here and the summer is coming soon.
Music today has been the debut Anekdoten album Vemod (1993).
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