We walked over to the olive trees, he and I. There were three of them, and some little holm oaks. On the horizon, to the east and the south, you could see mountain ridges, and in the two other directions it was so wide that you couldn’t make out the boundary of the plot. The fellow had offered me another one, with a sea view, and I had replied that I didn’t care. I can look at the sea often enough, every day at home, and if I’m going to be in the mountains I might as well gaze up at the peaks and the canopy of sky above them, with its ballet of stars at night. I don’t think he understood a word I was saying. He was strapped into a kind of vest, with a buttoned-up shirt underneath it, although it was already starting to get hot. When we got past the olive trees, walking through the dry grass that sometimes covered the remains of hardened furrows, toward a little tumbledown shack that I’d like to have rebuilt, he asked me if I could possibly pay him in cash. I burst out laughing and asked him how he thought I could get hold of dollars in cash. He didn’t comment. We had agreed on payment by check. He was just trying his luck. A few days ago, I asked Jad why landowners would ever sell their assets for cashier’s checks, and he replied that it’s usually because they have debts they need to repay as soon as possible, before the complete collapse of the pound. As for me, I want my every last penny out of the bank.
When I got home, Mariam announced that the washing machine was making a weird noise. And indeed, the noise was disturbing—a kind of regular clacking, almost rhythmical, to the beat of the rotating drum. I had actually just gotten it repaired a few days ago, the day before yesterday in fact. So I called the repairman, who didn’t answer, of course. These details of daily life which are out of our control are frustrating and make me angry. It’s easy to get angry these days.
On social media it’s always the same thing, inexhaustible, ad nauseam: economic collapse, the bankruptcy of the country, capital control, exchange rates, the pound in free fall, inflation, and penury lying in wait for us all. Read More