Thursday, July 18, 2013

Summer In The City

‘Which tie do you reckon is suitable?’ I ask my wife, staring blankly at the 100-plus selection in the wardrobe door. Some of them should have been jettisoned but you never know when paisley will be back in fashion….

‘There isn’t a suitable one in this heat.’ Responds my wife, sweeping her hand towards the wide-open windows. Already the temperature is climbing and that’s after another hot and sweaty night - which involved no close contact whatsoever.

‘I have to wear a tie.’ I tell her stubbornly. ‘This weather can’t last.’ The British summer isn’t exactly renowned for day after day of unbroken sunshine. Already the lawn has turned the colour of straw. I nearly dusted off the hose and sprinkler last evening, until I remembered the water meter.

‘It’s set fair for another week they say.’ She replies smugly. ‘Something to do with a Gulf Stream.’
‘That’s an executive plane.’ I tell her tartly, while thinking it might just be an ocean current too. Never have internet access and Wikipedia when you need it – although the students who keep winning the pub quiz seem to manage.

‘Are you sure?’ She responds, fingering a gaudy slice of silk I bought at a station-side Tie Rack, half-pissed after a corporate bash. Of course I’m not sure, but I’m in sales and I know if you say something with enough conviction 9 out of 10 people will believe you.

‘You’re thinking of the Jet Stream.’ I say knowledgably, fingers crossed behind my back.
‘Now that sounds like an aeroplane.’ Says my wife damning more statistics, before spinning the little automated tie holder I screwed to the inside of the wardrobe door more years ago than I care to remember. The gadget groans and grinds to a halt as the batteries finally expire. I know how they feel.

‘I don’t know why you have to be so stubborn.’ Continues my wife, as I munch disinterestedly on the rabbit food muesli combo she’s decreed we’ll be eating for the next three months, as we try to shift the poundage we gained in just a fortnight of rest and relaxation.

She’s just reminded me how “cool” the continental realtors appeared when I was looking in agency windows on holiday. Only I’m British and we don’t do shorts convincingly, other than for sport. And there’s very few with a UK passport that can look anything other than a twat with a jumper draped over their shoulders of an evening.

‘You’re going to be hot.’ Announces my wife as I peck her on the cheek. It’s a phrase I haven’t heard in a while – at home, or in my one-to-one appraisals with the bean counter boss.

‘It’s the lightest weight suit I have.’ I respond, trying in vain to wedge my fingers into the trouser waistband. I’m sure the dry cleaners shrink clothes, no mater what the marketing blurb claims…

By the time I’m half way down the dual carriageway, I’m plucking at the over-tight shirt neck and loosening my tie knot, despite having the air-conditioning wound to a frosty maximum. The sun is in my eyes and I’m silently cursing the fiery red ball, even as the lisping idiot local radio presenter gleefully informs me of temperatures matching the Mediterranean. Perhaps the khaki shorts, polo top and sock-less deck shoes wasn’t such a silly idea.

‘Jesus it’s hot in here.’ Grumbles assistant manager T as he comes in and looks suspiciously at the air-con unit in the ceiling. The wastepaper bin underneath, half-full of stagnant water, gives a clue even as idiot trainee stumbles in. I’m not explaining Legionnaires’ disease to him again – he’d never even heard of Beau Geste….

‘We should be like the Spanish estate agents.’ Says Lettings lush B when she arrives in sleeveless blouse. I detect a familiar female theme even as I see the thermometer nudging 25 degrees centigrade.

‘What?’ I snap. ‘Price at 30% more than market value and have faded photos in the window instead of snow-covered shots. Or should I suggest to some of our vendors we advertise their homes with, Distress Sale. Offers Needed?’

B looks at me disdainfully. Here it comes.

‘Someone’s hot under the collar.’


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