David Bouchier

David Bouchier’s weekly essays are full of unexpected observations and whimsical opinions. Listeners will relish his entertaining, enlightening, and sometimes exasperated commentaries on the routines that carry us through the year, the surreal rituals of politics, the unsettling experience of foreign travel, and the confusions and comedies of everyday suburban life.

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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