In London, the worst months of the year were January and February. The excitement and bright lights of Christmas and New Year were over, it was bitterly cold and it was grey. If the sun made an appearance, it was only for a few brief, shocking hours, and I was usually indoors, working at the library or studying at my desk. There was nothing to look forward to but the long drag into spring, which happened so slowly it seemed as if the days would never become light again. I would check the sunrise and sunset times obsessively, calculating how long it would be before I walked into the courtyard of UCL after work and found it gleaming in a weak dusk. Strangely, it seems that the worst days of this year in Brisbane have been in the same months, again because of the weather. At first the heat was a novelty: it necessitated the purchase of light, silky frocks because my wardrobe was still geared towards winter, the balmy evenings were gorgeous, and Christmas was back to normal, with the opening of presents with the windows down and cicadas droning, the crispy meringue of pavlovas, and fresh grapes and stone fruit.
But now I find the heat so consistently overbearing that I can neither sleep nor eat. It’s too warm to think, which means I am imprisoned in an air conditioned room for half the day while I write, and I hate not having natural airflow. I am irritable, losing weight, and am attacked by a plethora of mosquitoes that live beneath the house and come into my room for dinner.
It seems the only thing to do, when the day finally cools, is to escape the claustrophobia of my room and get on my bicycle. I ride to the river, where I sit on a bench beneath a flowering wisteria vine, eat an orange and watch the sun go down.