David Bouchier

Commentator

David began as a print journalist in London and taught at a British university for almost twenty years. After coming to the United States in 1986 he continued to teach and to publish a regular humor column in The New York Times regional edition.  He joined WSHU as a weekly commentator in 1992, becoming host of Sunday Matinee in 1996. His latest book of essays, Peripheral Vision, was published in 2011. His other books include A Few Well Chosen Words, The Song of Suburbia, The Cats and the Water Bottles, The Accidental Immigrant and Writer at Work. He lives in Stony Brook, New York with his wife who is a professor at Stony Brook University, and two un-musical cats.

Our long vacation in Europe is coming to an end, and it has been a luxury and a treat. A luxury because, having retired from almost everything except life itself, we can sometimes afford to be away for several weeks at a time, and a treat because the only real vacation is a long one. The memories we bring back are the main thing, and it takes time to build up good memories.

As we crossed from France to England last week I was half expecting things to be different. For years I had come to think of Britain as part of Europe. Now, after the decision to leave the European Community, known as 'Brexit,' that may not be true much longer.

I don’t know quite what I was expecting on the British side – fewer French and Italian restaurants perhaps, or patriotic Union Jacks on display outside people’s houses. I was suffering from a kind of pre-emptive nostalgia, mourning for a vanished world that hasn’t vanished yet, and shows no signs of doing so.

Ten years ago we moved into a house with central air conditioning, a luxury we never had before. It made me nervous at first. When I pressed the switch the house began to hum like a factory, and freezing air came roaring out of the vents. The electric meter was whizzing around like something in the Indianapolis 500.

Now we have this difficult choice to make every day in summer. When the air conditioning is on the house feels like an outpost in Antarctica, or a corporate office. When the system is off it feels like a Turkish bath, with President Erdogan turning up the heat.

Summer is a threat to our most cherished and perhaps our only national virtue: the work ethic. As the temperature rises a lot of otherwise puritanical and hardworking people will drop off to sleep during the hottest part of the day, and then feel guilty about it.

We’ve had a potter in the basement for the past few days. This is the kind of thing that can happen when you live in a village devoted to arts and crafts. Every year an international festival of pottery and ceramics brings amateur and professional artists here from all over the world, and space has to be found for them to display their creations. So the visiting artists are shoehorned into courtyards, garages, spare rooms around the village, and into our basement.

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