When I left for Melbourne last week winter still had its teeth into Perth. It had been the coldest September in 40 years, the electric blanket was still on the bed. It was unusual for Perth and the reverse of what used to happen every year in England, where we would have a warm week at the start of summer, then it would start raining around week two of Wimbledon before drizzling its way into September, when we would get another couple of warm weeks and the media would declare it, ‘An Indian Summer’.
I must have been doing my rain dance successfully this year in Perth, because summer still seemed miles away when I left, but the minute I touched back down it was obvious that something had changed.
The sun is back out, and it is a Perth sun, hot and pale yellow. We have gone from grey skies to blue and from fleece jumpers to T-shirts overnight. Even by Perth standards this is a rapid transition, and with the heat, have come the flies.
Australian flies are pretty famous now, thanks to visiting celebrities experiencing their behaviors and taking tales back home. They are many in number and supremely aggressive. They will not just buzz around your head, which is where the famous WA salute comes from as people wave them away, but they will try and get in your eyes, ears and up your nose. They will basically head for any orifice which promises moisture, and they never give up.
They also get into the house in seconds. My husband goes outside for a cigarette and the house seems to fill with them in the time it takes him to open the fly screen and close it again. During winter, I can leave bones out for the dogs, but in summer that becomes tricky as one fly in the house when I leave for work, will mean maggots on the floor by the time I get back.
As a vegetarian, I try not to kill animals, but I will draw the line at flies – and mousquitoes for that matter – although if I have to use spray to get to them I try to finish them off before the chemicals do.
And of course, with the instant heat has come instant flies. Winter had made me complacent and I set off for a walk this morning with the dogs without thinking and foolishly dressed like I am any other day. Within seconds I was being attacked from every angle by flies that seemed to have woken up feeling extremely thirsty.
It is time to dust off the baseball cap and rummage at the back of my cupboard for the insect repellent. The flies are back, which means summer is about to begin and the fridge is about to get really busy.