Turning back the pages of time to see your future
My view I’ve been doing a spot of timetravelling this week.
I haven’t accomplished this marvel by stepping into some Tardis-like sci-fi time machine, and I haven’t stepped through a secret door in the back of my wardrobe. I’ve simply been reading.
I began my time travel by rereading The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles, a novel which I first read in the early 1970s.
I followed that by reading a cache of letters returned to me by the friend to whom I had addressed them when I lived in Brunei in the early 1990s with my young daughter, and my then partner.
The French Lieutenant’s Woman, set in Victorian England, is the story of a fraught love affair between a ‘‘fallen’’ woman and a wealthy gentleman, who is also an atheist and a keen amateur palaeontologist. returned with pages torn out of them. I feel a misfit in the expat community.
It takes months for my daughter to become happily settled at the International School. It’s too hot. Housekeeping is a trial. The geckos which skitter up and down the walls also litter the house with their droppings. There’s too much washing to do in a climate which ‘‘makes sweating an art form’’ and ‘‘I have no energy for creative activity.’’
The monkeys which appear in the jungle at the back of the house are amusing, but we’re nervous about the pack of stray dogs which roam outside the front gate.
TV features hours of Koran reading filmed with a single fixed camera and badly-made movies dubbed into Malay.
In government offices the air conditioning is turned up so high that the clerks wear padded jackets.
If it’s not too hot, it’s too wet. My daughter might stand out in the yard during a monsoon deluge ‘‘like a little pagan with her face and hands held up to the sky’’ but the booming thunder, and the lightning which forks across the