If the heat ever breaks I am going to unpuddle off the sofa, take the ice cubes from between my parched lips and make a fennel and orange amuse-bouche, bechamel my way through a roast vegetable lasagna, do something ravishing with pancetta and walnut oil, toss pak choi in a hot pan. Or just hand the guests a tomato and head of baby gem lettuce each and let them make themselves a simple salad.
The guests are not pining for the city lights. They are comatose and weak from heat fatigue. No fun at all, and the small dogs are hugely disappointed. Before I was overcome with heat fatigue myself, I washed the puppies one at atime in a cool bath. I found three fleas or some fragmented black pepper grindings, who knows which? The dogs are fluffy and angelic, squeaky clean. So am I. Drenched in dog shampoo, soaked to the skin, smelling of wet dog and toasted almonds — I am currently obsessed with green beans done the French way with almonds and a scrap of garlic.
Does this happen to everyone? The grand obsession with alcohol departs and the addled mind fills up with all kinds of other preoccupations. I lie awake rewriting the Copenhagen treaty and making the world safe for rare species of anemone. I lie awake and invent new ways of coddling eggs and slicing French beans at a Gallic angle. I lie awake and matchmake for unmarriageable lesbian friends who prefer horses or dogs to their own species. I advise the God of my understanding on how to fix an exploding red giant supernova in another galaxy. Or something along those lines. My novel turns gargantuan with untested theories about hybridized apple trees and ghostwritten presidential speeches and created bubble cities on the ocean bed. The other night, with a white moon waxing fullish in Aquarius, I devised a new kind of oily yellow gremolata to accompany pork belly and a spinach-green couscous. In the old days I just thought about drinking — how bad it was for me, how much I liked it, how necessary itwas — and gloomed over ex-lovers and my depleted bank balance. Now I am sober and an existential menace rivalling the Creator of Worlds.
For supper (we shall sit out in the garden under the stars at a small table lit by hurricane lamps, with hungry mosquitos needling our bare legs) we shall have grilled rosemary chicken and a big bowl of slim green beans with toasted almonds. Baked potatoes with salt-free butter. A big dish of salad with plum tomatoes, olives, capers and lettuce leaves roughly torn. Then the guests can stagger off to bed and lie awake listening to the owl while I rewrite War & Peace.