Here in England we have been wondering whether we need to build an ark after nearly 40 days of what’s felt like unceasing rain. But now the sun has come out at last and the puddles are shrinking to muddy memorials to a bygone season.
It is hot enough that if you stand around in a group of people long enough, conversation will turn to moaning about the uncomfortable levels of heat.
When England gets hot, I get homesick. I pine for late suppers under the rubber tree, batting away mosquitoes, melon juice dripping on bare toes, panting mongrels too lazy to beg for the remains of the bar-b-que. I ache for the smell of eucalyptus, wild thyme, sun cream, chlorine, salt. I miss the cold baths at midnight, the thump of the open air disco across the marshes, the burning on the soles of my feet as I run from my towel to the water at Meia Praia.
Growing up in Portugal was amazing in many ways. But I haven’t lived there since I was seventeen, and one of the legacies of my colourful childhood is a disconnect with all the places I have lived since.
I am homesick and there is no home there for me to go back to.
Before you start feeling really sorry for me, let me give you this thought to chew over: none of
us can return to our childhood places and find them unchanged, because we ourselves have changed. And most likely the fauna, the architecture, the inhabitants will be all but unrecognisable. What we long for we cannot have.
What we can have is new memories, the germination of new seeds planted in the soil of the present.
To that end, I have taken a rug out to the corner of my well- irrigated lawn, opened a bottle of beer and decided to embrace the Englishness of this early summer evening.