Helen Scales

dusty leaf

Dust

Philip Pulman had a lot to say about dust in his His Dark Materials trilogy but I suspect it’s not the same variety of dust that I’ve been getting to know lately.

Last weekend the Sahara blew in. We woke up to find the world around us covered in a fine layer of orange dust. The sky was hazy and the sun hung in the sky like a full moon. The air was still and hot. People told us that this happens for a few days most years. It’s just something you get used to and every so often you spend a few days sweeping and dusting, trying to get things clean again.

It took three days for the skies to return to uninterrupted blue and for the stars to come out once again at night. Asides from this dust invasion, there is generally a lot of dust around, which I was on the whole expecting and dreading.

Dust is quite the worst thing, except perhaps water, for a radio reporter. It gets everywhere and into everything. It forms a thin coating on my laptop screen. It penetrates the spiral cable of my headphones. And I hate to think of the havoc dust is playing inside all my electronic kit, in the interior recesses I can’t get at to sweep and clean.

I’m trying my hardest to keep things dust-free. My Ortlieb waterpoof/dustproof zipped up messenger bag is a godsend. I can jump on buses, trot along beaches, leap on and off boats, all safe in the knowledge that as long as that zip stays firmly shut all inside is protected from the elements. But then of course come the times when I need to get stuff out: mics, recorder, all the gadgets that would rather stay shut up and hidden away from it all.

But I have to admit that to be worrying about dust and heat feels like real luxury as I hear more stories about how bad the weather is back home. The UK, it seems, is going through a crappy spring. Just as we were leaving a month ago, drought warnings were escalating and hosepipe bans being rolled out across more of the country. But since then, as far as I can tell, it pretty much hasn’t stopped raining.

So sorry guys, but we’ve decided we’re not coming back until the weather cheers up.

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