Apologies for not posting before now. I can only plead this incredible heat which is making me lethargic and unwilling to spend too long at the keyboard. Which is difficult, of course, since I'm partway through a novel. This must be the first time I've ever regretted getting myself a leather swivel chair for my desk ...

Yet here I am, with the help of several fans and open windows, just to say that I seem to have inherited my mother's dislike of excessive heat. Although she did love to holiday in the South of France, with its deep intense colours and dramatic scenery, she loathed the heat and would spend most afternoons indoors with a fan constantly on the go, retiring to bed quite early in the evening. I think an hour in the pool each evening might have helped her, but one of her great regrets was never having learnt to swim. I think she did try adult lessons once or twice, but being quite a private person disliked having to wander about in public in her swimming costume!

Since my parents often hired villas with swimming pools during our summer holidays, we took advantage of the privacy there and tried to teach her to swim on numerous occasions. But my mother was not an easy woman to teach and we gave up trying in the end. She preferred to stay in the shallows with her grandchildren, sometimes walking towards the deep end with one hand on the wall or experimenting with a float! So she never learnt to drive and never learnt to swim. But one thing she could do really well was type! And due to excellent training as a young woman, her technique was faultless; however many words she typed per day, she never seemed to suffer from RSI - as I do, unfortunately, being an incorrigible two-fingered typist.

My mother would have hated this heatwave. Not least because of the damage it's doing to the garden ...


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