Düsseldorf was hot. The kind of heat you have to submit to or it can drive you crazy. For me it nearly did.
Another record-breaking summer in Europe. This was climate change in action. I tried to offset my carbon when booking the flight and buying travel insurance. Well, it’s only an hour by plane from Stansted to Weeze, but until there is a decent rail link there’s no other option. Not the main airport – Weeze is tiny and it’s a long way from the city centre, about 80km. It hadn’t occurred to me there’d be two but Düsseldorf Weeze has a good train link and the airport was generally less aggravating than Düsseldorf international.
Return journey pic.
It did start well. I even got a free train journey, offered by a student I met at the airport who said she’d include me on her pass – which covered the replacement [for the bus] taxi. I must admit to feeling a bit overwhelmed, not only by her kindness but also her preternatural attractiveness (that is, not just physically). She was, though, with a man also in his early twenties, and there was another young traveller she made the same offer to. Not that I would ever have had a chance with her under any circumstance. Even in my dream she was completely unobtainable. Rightfully. I would have thought had I been her age on meeting her I’d have been totally tongue-tied, but here I was talking about the heatwave and discussing Euro travelling. When she removed the band and shook her blonde hair free I felt myself go weak at the knees. In her short denim shorts and vest she must have known the effect she had on men. But being such a warm night there seemed nothing inappropriate in that. I think there is something about the heat that intensifies feelings.
After an awkward parting, I made it to the hotel. Late check-in was ok: pick the key – actually a contactless fob – out of a safe, to open doors. It’s the future!
Next day a long walk in the heat through wide trailed woods. Good to shelter under the canopy of trees. What a contrast the weather made from last time.
A woman runner passed me. And very soon I heard her gasping for breath and groaning. Turned round to see her doubled over. She sounded in a desperate state. I was surprised not least because she looked like a professional athlete. Yet there was no way I could have ignored her. But when I asked her if she was all right suddenly she stood up straight, a slight look of surprise. After a few words of German she was very much ‘I’m fine.’ I offered her a drink but she assured me she was very near her friend who had a drink. The incident left me bemused. It seemed as if she had been exaggerating her state of exhaustion, that she wanted to catch my attention. But then once she got a good view of me – or at least knew I’m not German – had second thoughts. I felt embarrassed afterwards and took an alternative path and waited out on a bench. A troubling thought then: the situation could have been construed that I was trying to take advantage of her. Approaching a lone woman on an isolated path is not something I’d normally do. But if I hadn’t I’d have felt bad. The heat has strange effects.
Left it respectably late to buy my usual in Lidl. Then finally back to the hotel – a relief! The room was way too warm so I took a cool shower. Started drinking the booze from about 5:30, and eating, possibly too much of either. Large packets of snacks not designed for one person.
Then something happened that left me shocked and disturbed. Not so much that I fell asleep. It was more a total dreamless unconsciousness. I’d got through two thirds of the bottle, and it seemed as a result knocked myself out. I don’t remember anything after about 7pm. Woke up at around 3am. I’d lost a night – as if the time had never existed. What would have been a very important night. I wondered: was it too late? Maybe I should have wondered: could I have died? I did wonder: could that be what it’s like to be dead? Pointless thoughts. Dark thoughts. Nothing else but to go back to sleep and hope I can make up for my lost night.
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