Today has been deliberately upside down because I wanted to get lots done before I did my Radio Stradbroke Show this morning, and had lots to do afterwards. Although it is later than I had thought it would get before I set virtual pen to paper.
Last night, I finally discovered what a song was that I kept hearing outside George’s bar in Agios Nikolaos, and now I’m listening to it on repeat. Le vent nous portera – the version by Scala and Kolacny Brothers. It’s the soundtrack for the whole holiday and the whole place now. And again, appropriately, it’s not an English song. Languages, the art of languages is supreme. I am doing about 10 minutes of Greek as well, and hope I’ll keep it going.
M and I have changed into jeans, socks, shirts and jumpers, and A keeps berating us for saying it’s cold, that we’re encouraging global warming by our attitude. The Met Office, meanwhile, has issued its highest ever warning for extreme heat in the UK. Interestingly, checking the forecast, nights are still going to be chilly (ie only about 15C) even when the heat wave is meant to hit us on Sunday and we’re meant to have temps of up to 39C. I can imagine it will absolutely horrid in London, and that the nights will be stickier than out here in Norwich. The irony, though, is that I was always taught (in Geography, I think) that England would always have a temperate climate because the sea acts as a kind of buffer zone. I was obviously sold a pup. The real problem here, though, is that the English don’t understand how to deal with extreme weather – people in hot countries don’t go out into the heat – they stay in the shade and have sunscreen on even then, because the sun reflects into the shade. People in cold countries don’t expose themselves to the cold, don’t wear ridiculous tiny shoes out into the snow and onto ice; they wear the right gear. Am I weird because I like extreme temperatures – hot and cold?
I do hope my blogs over the last few days haven’t been misunderstood – I do love this new house, I do love Norwich, I do like being here – I just don’t like being cold. I am not always that melancholy guy, as Colonel L called me on our Zoom earlier. And I am working very hard on getting the work/life/writing balance right. Honestly.
AGGIE’S ART OF HAPPINESS – CHAPTER 149
‘No,’ Aggie whispers. ‘You’re the perfect one.’
They take each other’s hands and step under the stream of hot water together. Aggie closes her eyes, daren’t look any more, daren’t breathe, dreads seeing her reflection in the polished tiles. She feels Lilibet’s hands on her, stroking her, making her body feel the right size for once, making her feel less monstrous with each touch.
The only sound is that of the rushing water. Aggie opens her eyes again, breathes in the steam, starts, like a reflex almost, to wash Lilibet’s hair, rinsing her own blood from her lover’s hair. She bows her head so Lilibet can do the same. Words are superfluous now, when their bodies and gestures talk to each other. The water runs red, pink spirals rushing down the drain. Lilibet’s mouth closes on hers, and Lilibet’s wet arms surround her, hold her close, make her feel safer than she can remember ever having felt. Skin on skin, mouth on mouth, hands in hands, they dance under the water until they can dance no more, until the water runs cold, the steam disappears, and the water runs clear.
‘So chaste,’ Lilibet whispers as she pulls her face away from Aggie’s. ‘So pure.’
Aggie smiles, a smile full of the sadness of ages, and shakes her head. ‘Anything but.’ She turns off the water. ‘Not like you.’
Lilibet laughs, the warm note of it flowing through the room in multiple echoes. ‘You need to learn to listen to me. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.’
‘That’s why I never look at myself.’
‘Perhaps you’ll learn.’ Lilibet reaches out again, strokes Aggie’s cheek, runs her fingers down to her chin, down the sinews of her neck, traces the curves of Aggie’s clavicles out to her shoulders, and then her armpits, her breasts, her sternum, her flat stomach, stops, fingers spread over and around Aggie’s navel. ‘No scars,’ she says. ‘How?’
Aggie puts her hands over Lilibet’s, presses their joined hands into her rigid and muscled abdomen. ‘ I honestly don’t know. It just happens. I don’t understand it.’ Her voice trembles. ‘There was a child in there, once, a long time ago. And it disappeared. And I’m empty, so empty.’
Lilibet pulls their joined hands onto her own stomach, covered in the freckles of her pale skin. ‘I’m sorry, so sorry.’ She leans her forehead against Aggie’s, their wet hair intertwining. ‘You can have two daughters if you want. Share them with me. Love them like I do.’
‘I can’t ask that of you.’ Aggie’s breath is warm on Lilibet’s face. ‘Nor of them.’
‘Let them decide. Let time decide.’
Aggie sighs. ‘Who knows what time will decide?’ It may not be in the pan for us to be together.’
Lilibet puts her index finger on Aggie’s lips. ‘Shh, shh, my love. Don’t think like that now. We’re here, aren’t we? Together. Pure. Clean. New. Let the world try to keep us apart.’
‘Valentine will try.’ Aggie says, her face suddenly grim. ‘Again and again and again.’
‘Then I’ll kill him.’
They dry each other and dress in the boiler suits in silence, pack their dirty clothes and all Aggie’s collected hardware in a bag they find. Aggie takes one last look into the room.
‘Alright?’ Lilibet says.
‘Just storing my sweetest memory.’