At home the air-conditioning does go as high as 30 centigrade but socks are still a necessity and at times the best way to heat the place up is to turn the oven on full blast, open the door and let it do its job for 20 minutes or so, without actually cooking anything. In the dead of night, when I wake up for a leak, the tiled floor is bloody freezing, and bleary-eyed I root out my groovy electric blue extra blanket to put on top of the cosy green one. The five long years that I’ve slept on that bed have flattened the padding and brought the springs to the surface and bedtime ain’t the comfort zone it once was. Four months to go …
Masud the hirsute and mute Bangladeshi morning driver wears gloves and on the 8 minute run to the office he looks shrunken in his heavy coat. An outside bench in the smoking area freezes my butt so I stick down a couple of books to protect it from frostbite. A guy from Kerala comes out to smoke with me, wearing his jacket all day long as he sits in front of a PC screen, and the Saudis shiver in, bodies cocooned in coarse blanket-like gowns down to their feet, headscarves swathe the faces leaving a slit for the eyes, female style, not in black but red and white, Arsenal style, who incidentally had an impressive win last week at Man City, a team that cost a billion quid.
By 8am the sun is doing the things that suns do, at degrees that people pay small fortunes to holiday under. The temperature by afternoon is perfectly clement, and, for less than two months a year, bearable. My bike loves it and infernal punctures aside (two in a week), we ride together along the coast where the tan gets driven deep.
“Quite chilly in places on the Arabian Peninsula,” the BBC weatherman has just informed me as I tuck into a dinner of ‘Mixed Grillo Plate’, before cutting back to the newsreader who talks of ISIS and Charlie Hebdo and churches burning in Africa and Belgian sleeper cells uncovered by cops and critical states of emergency, and then the heat goes straight back up, winter or not.