I am writing these words late in the evening one night in the middle of July 2018, and it is far too warm. The whole United Kingdom is far too warm, and boy we are complaining about it. It’s not like we don’t like hot weather, it’s just that we don’t want to live in it. We are absolutely fine with the idea that some countries are hot, and that we can visit them when we like. This country is not hot.
All of that is a lie. We only start telling ourselves lies like this when we are sick of the situation we are currently in. When the weather is cold, as it was earlier this year, with the famous “Beast from the East”, most Britons will be wishing for sunnier climes, and drinks by the pool while they burn. Bring on a few weeks of heat, no air and even less rain and they’ll be wishing for the heavens to open and pour forth rains of an entirely biblical nature. It’s what we are like, and that’s a pain.
In a few weeks it will be autumn, and the temperature will level out to more standard UK levels: somewhere around 10 to 15. We’ll still find something to complain about, but it won’t be that it is too hot. We will have deleted that memory from our poor denially self-lobotomising minds.
Every year is the same: we get a few days of heat, and then it rains for a bit, and people ask if that is it for the summer this year, and go back to their glum states of mock seasonal affective disorder. And then it gets hot again and the media claims the coming of a heatwave. Wags shrug at the noise in disbelief: “This is as far from a heatwave as it is possible to get”, they endlessly opine to no one.
Every year I get shocked by the changing of the seasons, as if I haven’t experienced this pattern almost forty times now. I get shocked by the fact that there are far too many insects in the world, and that they all want to do battle with my light fittings. I get shocked that it is no longer in my best interests to sleep under a duvet. I get shocked that my appetite is a tiny fraction of what it once was. I get shocked that I want to eat salad every day, rather than stew. I get shocked that I am so thirsty.
In the same way that it is human nature to forget the pain of childbirth in order to procreate more than once, it is human nature to forget the pain of each passing season, and begin to reconcile that this is our life now, and that the equilibrium of temperate evenings will never ever return to us.
That said, I am an autumnal kind of guy. I look forward to the closing in of the nights, especially when the nights as they currently stand are so hot that I cannot sleep, and so I choose to write this instead of being lathered in hot glue on my bed sheets. I look forward to being able to cook slowly, with stock and dried herbs, rather than making endless pissing salads. I look forward to mulled wine.
Such is the reason the British are so obsessed with the weather: we are never ever happy with it, and we never ever will be. To the British mind Australia is heaven, with its sunshine, its millions of miles of beautiful coasts and its abundance of mind-blowing produce. They even speak English, and have lots of beer. The problem is that we couldn’t handle the heat. If you’re born there you know no better, and it is acceptable. If you grew up in the UK it is a great idea at best. A nightmare at worst.
Foreign countries are very lucky places for two reasons: one, they are used to the temperatures they have, and they know how to deal with them; two, they are not full of British people getting up a height at the first flake of snow or the fact that they have turned in to a bright red puddle again.
I like the fact that the days are longer, but only because I cannot be bothered to open and close the curtains every day. Other people tell me that they can get more done when the days are longer; I have never understood this. In most of the places I need to be when I have something to do I have access to electric lights. They more often than not quite happily do the trick. Outside is for mugs.
I dislike the fact that summers are sweaty abominations. Then again, I am a sweaty abomination the whole year long, due largely to the fact that I am a scared little thing, perpetually on the verge of an emotional melt down. Or is that just a fever dream induced by the effects of the incessant heat on my withered mind? I honestly don’t know any more, except for the fact that I am a sweaty man.
I frequently get invited to go and visit family in hot countries: it is considerably hotter in those places at the time I am invited than it is here at the hottest time of the year; and I find it hard enough to cope here. What is it with expats and their love of burning themselves alive under the hot Spanish sun? I will never know, but they all seem to have a serious aversion to any kind of cold weather.
I suppose what I am trying to say is that this summer is too bloody hot, and I am not the only person who is struggling to cope. My partner is eight months pregnant, and is finding the going incredibly rough indeed. At least she’s getting the practice in for the sleepless nights to come, but the look in her eyes indicates that she is not comforted by such a notion, however warmly I choose to put it to her.
Our eldest child sleeps like a log whatever the weather. I pop my head in from time to time during the night to see a snoring pink body, soft toys plastered against her face and a cute little smile on her face. Then I climb back on to my towering inferno of a mattress and try to sleep amongst the hot wet mess which I and it have become. I turn and I turn and I turn until the sheet leaves the bed again.
I reach for a glass of water, with the intention of pouring every drop down my aching throat, only to find it, not empty, but warm: it has been brought up to tepid by the residual heat of the house, and it makes me close to vomit. I get up and stagger once more to the bathroom to fill it with fresh cold water, which I then pour straight over my head, only to shiver uncontrollably. Same time next year?