that’s better

that’s better

If you have had any interactions, however fleeting, with any British people in the last week you will know we’ve been having a heatwave. We won’t have been able to not mention it. For anyone not familiar with our weather and why this is a particular issue I think this sums it up nicely.

Yes, you see, the problem is we are not equipped for high temperatures. Outside of office buildings and shopping centres nearly everywhere else we go has no air conditioning, and as many of us have been working from home we’ve spent the last week melting in our own sweat. At best, we’ve had a John Lewis fan noisily wafting warm air around us. It’s been pretty horrible, but let’s rewind a week to last Saturday… “Oh my god! It’s so hot! It’s amazing! Let’s go out in the garden! Everyone must have a barbecue – it’s mandatory!”

As British people we are so accustomed to spending so much of our time complaining about it being cold / wet / both that we do get a little overexcited when the sun comes out. It can get a bit depressing (particularly the last 18 months) looking out at the same patch of grey sky so understandably the sunshine is a great cause for celebration. But I can’t imagine I’m the only one whose week unfolded this way:

Saturday: It’s so hot and sunny! I know, I will sunbathe in the garden! What a novelty. Factor 30 on (I mean it’s still the UK). 40 minutes later – hmm, looking a bit pink, maybe go inside for a bit. An impromptu barbecue??! Of course! Should be fine, put some sun cream on earlier and I’m sitting in the shade. Another rĂ³se? Don’t mind if I do, it’s not often we get to enjoy the hot weather…

Sunday: Oh dear. What time did we go to bed? Are they your house keys sitting on the garden table? I think my sandals have been eaten by a fox (not joking). Oh well, it’s not often we get to enjoy the hot weather. Bit sunburnt but I’ll wear a t-shirt today and it’ll be fine. By bedtime – actually that’s quite sore now. Can’t lie down without pain. Ow.

Monday – Friday: Oh god this is horrific. Sitting indoors in sweltering heat trying to work whilst sweating profusely and gingerly applying heavy duty moisturiser to immensely painful red / peeling shoulders.

Saturday: Thank goodness it’s raining and miserable again!

To be fair, I should point out that I particularly hate the hot weather and am very fair skinned, leading to any amount of carelessness resulting in ending up being practically cremated above 25 degrees. And don’t get me wrong, I do love a nice sunny holiday, but when you’re going away you have time to plan and prepare. 3 large bottles of factor 50, a hat, an after lunch nap to avoid the worst sun and sleep off a large glass of wine. You’re not caught off guard with unexpected pressure to ‘enjoy the weather’.

We lived in New York for three years where they basically only have two seasons – it’s either freezing cold or boiling hot. But at least in the summer you only have to navigate the heat whilst you’re outdoors as pretty much all buildings and transport have AC. In fact, it would be considered inhumane if they didn’t. But this week’s constantly checking the weather app to see when this awful weather nightmare might end reminded me of when we lived there, scrolling forward on the Dark Skies Time Machine view hoping that some time round mid October there might be a pleasant few days before the temperature descended sub zero.

Earlier I saw our neighbours setting off for a UK staycation – bikes on the roof rack, piling into the car no doubt with cagoules and the modern day equivalent of a board game packed. Because that’s what British holidays are all about – sitting looking at the rain out of a car window complaining about the weather wondering when you can get back to your own bed.

So for now all is well and we can look forward to wet, cold, windy evenings forcing ourselves to sit outside whilst it’s still light.

By Clair Grayston

person who writes stuff, makes stuff, plays stuff

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