The Big Issue : Edition 501
THE BIG ISSUE 26 DEC 2015 – 7 JAN 2016 13 ressentiment or for yourself, because you’re hot and you’re dangerously bored and you really just want to die. Of course, perhaps, like me, you’re one of the lucky few whose relatives actually find you just as intolerable as you find them and now, all family obligations have dried down to a sapid almost-nothing whose silence you can taste like a good pinot gris. Or, well, you would know what that felt like if a lifetime of summers peopled by drunk, racist relatives who speak so often of “the problem with this country today” had not now denied you the pleasure of alcohol. Nothing ruins drinking like other people drinking and so, you endure another sober summer. And you try to see what others see in this cruel season which seems wasted on vacation days, all spent avoiding unpleasant sun and unpleasant people who must be lying when they say, “The heat? Nah. Doesn’t bother me.” And, no. It probably doesn’t because they’re drunk. So drunk. And even if their default drunk conversation is not, like your relatives’, hate-speech, it still comes round to “the problem with this country today”. And when you, unable to stifle your sun-dried hostility any longer, suggest that there may be more than one problem, tempting them into reasserting their original point — “the problem is people lacking in entrepreneurial spirit”, “the problem is snooty cows like you who don’t know how to drink”– you hate yourself as well as them and now you want to die not once but twice and then forever again because it’s so. Damn. Hot. And everyone is drunk and stupid and you are just, well, stupid. What’s your excuse, Helen? So, you spend all of January’s moments not otherwise filled unsticking your sweaty self from the discount furniture you bought six winters ago, thinking why, and why and nothing. Because your brain, heated to well beyond its optimal functioning temperature, can’t come up with any good reason for anything at all and it’s not even as though you’re depressed. You’re just stuck to a cheap chair suffering mild but persistent heat-induced traumatic memory of all the summers that you’ve hated and all the sunburn and all the angry relatives and all the immobility in this hot, hot heat. And the only reason you’re here is to find a place that is cooler than 30°C. And so, you go to the movies thinking, as you somehow do every year, that this place packed full of children and the dreadful cinematic structures they seem to prefer will somehow be so cold that you won’t mind the thud thud thud of a seven- year-old’s foot in the back of this cheap chair to which you are now fused by the meeting of your own hot sweat with cold, dirty plastic and you’ll “lose yourself” in the spectacle of cartoon ocelots who keep spreading a message of love. And you think: “Love? I’d settle for one season of evaporative cooling.” And you promise it to yourself by next year but you never remember because who can remember anything in this heat? Not me, and what was I saying? I’m afraid I have no memory. It’s going to be a wonderful summer. “Nothing ruins drinking like other people drinking.” RAZER This Country’s Problem? Summer PHOTOGRAPHSBYJAMESBRAUND O, SUMMER. SEASON of languid delight in which a lady is at her pause to enjoy your slow charms, like long picnics or extended swims or relatives who’ve been on the turps all arvo and show no signs of ceasing their explanation of “the problem with this country today”, which is always something to do with persons who just happen to be a shade or two darker than they are, and which inevitably falls into such a stinking pit of unreason, you’re not sure if you should feel worse for those who face your drunk relatives’ » Helen Razer (@helenrazer) is a writer and gardener who is very much looking forward to winter.