‘You know those days when you get the mean reds?’ Oh dear Audrey, how right you were when you explained the difference between the blues and the mean reds in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Well technically, it was Truman Capote who defined the concept, and his version in the book goes into a little more visceral detail than the très chic Miss Golightly’s. ‘The blues are because you’re getting fat and maybe it’s been raining too long. You’re just sad, that’s all. The mean reds are horrible. You’re afraid and you sweat like hell and you don’t know what you’re afraid of. Except something bad is going to happen, only you don’t know what it is.’ If you’re wondering what this has to do with Ibiza in August, read on…
I’ve heard people on the island talk of the ‘August blues’ before. It always sounded a lot like the mean reads to me – when you’re in the eye of the high summer storm and you can’t see any way out of it; when you think you’re going to collapse from running around in the intense heat and it shows no sign of cooling down; when other people’s tempers run high because they’re experiencing all of the above and it makes them impossible to communicate with; when you can’t get a parking spot anywhere near your own house, a table in a restaurant (unless you have a great concierge!) or when you run out of water and every shop in a two kilometre radius is shut or has run dry. I’ve been here long enough to have seen and experienced all of that, but I’ve never let it get me down. But this week, well, I have to say I felt the August blues creeping in for the first time…
Aside from the heavy heat, I’ve always quite enjoyed August in Ibiza – the line-ups for every party are always amazing (hello Luciano playing a disco set at Laylah and back to back with Ricardo Villalobos at Cova Santa!), most people are too busy to have meetings, and it’s far too hot for photo shoots so I don’t spend too much time out and about in the hustle of it all, I love the heavy influx of singsong Italian accents (and fashion) all around the island, and you can get heavily discounted clothes in the last rounds of the summer sales. What’s not to love? Plus, there’s that hint of September on the horizon – that most blissful month of the year in Ibiza – that gets you through any tough times.
But this particular August was a different beast – however, it wasn’t Ibiza that got me down (it never does). You see, this month I’ve been travelling, and being away from my beloved island is what’s given me a case of the mean reds, or what could be akin to the August blues. I’ve never left the island in August before – and at this point, I should point out, the reasons I went away were for very special, wonderful, amazing occasions, which did NOT contribute to my August blues at all – but now that I’ve done it on multiple occasions now, I can assure you I am never ever leaving this island again in high season (disclaimer: unless someone gets married, has a baby, invites me to George and Amal’s house in Lake Como, or gives me backstage passes to Kylie Minogue or a Bon Jovi concert). Obviously, I know I should feel #blessed to have the opportunity to travel. And yes, of course I am #grateful. I am aware my August blues are well and truly #firstworldproblems.
I’m just not very laidback when it comes to travel. I always love the destination, I just don’t enjoy the experience of travelling, or any of the processes that come along with it. The packing, the planning (ergh – can someone else please search Skyscanner for me? Or lend me their private jet?), the paperwork, getting to the airport on time, the meaningless hours spent in queues or on planes or trains while not being connected to internet, sleeping in different beds, missing my cats, the constant fluctuations in temperature… it’s that last one that’s the killer in my opinion.
As I sit here typing, I have the sniffles, a sinus headache and absolutely no voice as a result of a journey that incorporated hot and sweaty Ibiza, a freezing plane, a non-air conditioned train, lovely fresh mountain air, that same steamy train, a cold plane and yep, back to hot and humid Ibiza again. The morning after I returned home from my most recent trip, I found myself sleepily digging through a pretty bare cupboard trying to find some food for my cats. I was reminded of Audrey Hepburn holding the beautiful ginger ‘Cat’ in her kitchen as she rummaged through the fridge trying to find him some milk, that iconic aqua eye mask pushed up on her head, all the while musing about the mean reds. (Side note: while I was wearing a very similar eye mask, there was absolutely no element of glamour in my version of the situation) I had that EXACT feeling she was talking about – I felt like something bad was going to happen but I didn’t know what it was (I would discover a few hours later, it was to be the onset of the flu!).
What would Holly Golightly do in this situation? I thought to myself, trying to snap out of the August blues/mean reds mindset – and so I cast my mind back to that same kitchen scene. ‘When I get it, the only thing that does any good is to jump into a cab and go to Tiffany’s,’ she said with a completely straight face. ‘Calms me down right away. The quietness and the proud look of it. Nothing very bad could happen to you there. If I could find a real-life place that made me feel like Tiffany’s… then I’d buy some furniture and give the cat a name.’ In the book, she also tried drinking, aspirin and smoking marijuana, but none of them did the job.
It was ‘men in their nice suits, and that lovely smell of silver and alligator wallets,’ that got her every time. I hugged my own two cats and went upstairs onto my roof terrace to contemplate what my own version of Tiffany’s could be. Where could I go to make myself feel better? And as I looked down on the beautiful, ancient cobblestone square of Dalt Vila, up at the cathedral behind me, out across the Mediterranean Sea and up at the glorious clear blue sky, I was struck by the calmness and the proud look of it all. I realised instantly… I’m already living in my Tiffany’s. I don’t need to go anywhere at all to feel better. Nothing very bad can happen to me here (and maybe that explains why I own my own furniture and my cats already have names). It turns out I don’t have the August blues at all – it’s just a pesky case of summer flu. The only August blues I see are the beautiful sky and that crystal clear sea!