Being a touch unwell reawakens happy memories…
Three weeks ago, on the first night of my short stay in Weybourne, on the Norfolk coast, I woke up in the early hours feeling a little sick – a curious, special kind of nausea which I’d only experienced during my travels in India and Mexico. More a taste than a feeling: sour, pungent, redolent of solo breakfasts far from home when the sight and smell of spicy food both attracted and repelled my post-sickness, fragile self.
My Norfolk nausea never really developed, thank goodness. Yet those subtle traces of my Indian and Mexican sicknesses, or maybe memories – they are not the same thing – lingered on throughout my day’s cycling.
The sun that glared down on East Anglia undoubtedly helped to scramble my past and present senses. Far from numbing my perception of the world, the torpid heat intensified it.
This sensibility lasted. Two days later, back in Sussex, I was walking in the woods after rainfall on a humid afternoon when I was struck, not by a taste-feeling, but by a scent, a sort of eau de wet undergrowth. It reminded me of wanders near the village in the Himalayan foothills where I lived for a time in late 2010. I looked up at the leaden English sky: no mountain mist, but enough greyness to take me right back to that all-pervasive dank murkiness that had enveloped my village for so many hours every day.