David Bouchier


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.

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.

I'm always on the lookout for new fashions among the young, in case I might be missing something important. But, frankly, I haven’t had much success in catching up with the enthusiasms of youth. I’ve missed just about every trend in music and fashion for the past forty years; I’ve missed video games, ipods, smart phones, SnapChat, and just about everything an up-to-date six-year old needs to know.

Right now the sun is shining, the sky is a dazzling deep blue, and the temperature has just reached ninety-one degrees. I’m sorry if it’s not the same where you are, but that’s the reassuring thing about weather. If you don’t like your climate you can change it, simply by moving a few hundred or a few thousand miles.