“If we don’t go mad once in a while, there’s no hope.”
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
There is not a cloud in the sky, not a breath of wind. It’s 37 degrees on our terrace, 31 degrees in our kitchen and another week of swelter is predicted. Yes, these are the numbers at 18:30 in the evening. Yes, this is London. No we have no rain or cloud to offer at this time – out of stock.
No-one ever believes me when I tell them how hot our summers can get. The problem of course is our fame in the rain department. ‘Mud Island’, some South Africans have been known to call us… The thing is that on our hot summer days the rain is suspended in the air as humidity, making it all the more uncomfortable, not even cooling down much at night. Meteorologists might correct me on my science here, but that’s certainly what it feels like.
Now, I can tell that you’ve begun to glaze over with all this talk of weather – if you’re not British I understand that it’s not easy to carry on a weather discussion for much longer than a second or two, but here it is a national sport. In true British style the media is now comparing how London is currently hotter than somewhere else (often citing a country in Southern Hemisphere winter as it happens :)). Today’s headline predictably reads: ‘London forecast to be hotter than in Barcelona, Miami or Rio‘.
In other news, it was my birthday on Saturday. Another year older, and this time I do really feel older. The day was good, though – pilates, gym, an unplanned game of croquet in the sun, some retail ‘therapy’ in Homebase for terrace furniture, plants etc, some DIY (of said terrace furniture), some lovely messages from friends and family and finally a birthday dinner at Dans le Noir.
Dans le Noir (In the dark) is a restaurant where you literally eat in the pitch dark. I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. We had to leave all phones and bags and anything that reflects in a locker before going in. We met our waiter, Jack, who is blind. He led us to our tables and helped us find our napkins and utensils on the table. I poured us some water.
The food was delicious and the fun part of the surprise aspect was trying to figure out what we were eating for each course. It was an interesting experience worth trying, but neither of us really felt completely comfortable. On a normal dinner date we look around, see others, the ambiance, view etc, but here it was just touch and sound. So much of our communication is non verbal and it was frustrating having to do without this. I think the dark also does some crazy things to people. One group was extremely loud and silly shrieks came from a table behind me.
Once all three courses were finished, we called our waiter, who was bafflingly absent and it was at this point that the experience began to feel a little claustrophobic. So reliant we were on our waiter and his advanced senses – an interesting reversal of the waiter-patron dynamic.
When we left the dark confines, our menu was revealed to us.
We had correctly identified all the predictable tastes, but had no idea we were eating crocodile and ostrich!
p.s. Incidentally if your are looking for a good read that will make you think, laugh and cry and is nevertheless an easy read, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is possibly one of my favourite books.