Mad Dogs & Englishmen

Britain has a heat-wave. To me, sunshine is fantastic news. I fill up a massive jug with water, apply lots of sun-screen and go outside to get the benefit of the glorious, health-giving rays. Eventually the sun moves round and no longer falls on my property so I move indoors. This evening, unlike most other evenings, I decided to put BBC News 24 on as background noise while I read, write, do my usual quiet activities.

This is not the hottest summer we’ve ever had. I was born at the peak of one hotter than this. That was in 1977 and people were rather warm but quite appreciative of a long, hot summer. I grew up through many (many) more of them. Every year I sat exams in blistering heat where we couldn’t open the windows because half of the pupils would collapse with dreaded hayfever and the other half would run out screaming because a wasp had flown in.

Summers didn’t really change, but once you get into the working world, you tend not to get as much time to notice. Sometimes, we’d have a year where we had a week of sun around Easter and then a fairly cool and rainy season to follow. The hot summers always returned.

For three years, we’ve had only cool, rainy summers and I’ve kept saying the sun will be back. Now that it is, though, it seems people have forgotten how to get on and enjoy a real summer. News 24 is telling me every half hour or so that a warning has been issued about the dangers of the hot weather. There have been, according to one health care worry-ward, high numbers of lost toes through people gardening in flip-flops.

This frightens me. Not because I may succumb to the heat. No. It frightens me because it has taken only three years for almost an entire nation to forget the sun exists and can get quite hot in this country. Has the nanny state really made people so reliant on the media to know what to do that they can’t remember to drink water, dress appropriately and maybe, I don’t know, open a window? Have people really become that stupid?

The news is creating a panic out of it just as they do with heavy (more than an inch) snowfall. Yes, it’s very warm. Nobody needs to cool down that desperately though that they need leap into rivers despite warning signs about undertow. Is it just that they really are too stupid to know any better? I wish I could believe the contrary.

In decades, centuries, millennia past, when the news reported news and didn’t dish out advice, people got on and dealt with the heat by means of drinking water, staying out of the sun, wearing wide-brimmed hats to keep the sun from making hard-boiled brain for breakfast and at the same time shielding eyes reducing, among other things, the risk of removing one’s own toes because one could bloody well see what one was doing.

I’d like to think that one day while I slept particularly deeply, aliens came and attacked Britain with a lobotomising beam leaving my fellow countrymen with the ability to do only what they were expressly told to do by the voices from the BBC. But what I’d like to think is seldom the case and once again that is true. People have just lost what little common sense they once had, it would seem.

Me? I’m enjoying it while it lasts, just like I’ve always done. This year I’ve discovered a sun-screen that actually works for me and my milk-white skin is now a healthy golden brown. My vitamin D levels are at an all time high because I’m not burning to a crisp when I step outside. But I’m also waiting to hear reports, after the hot weather has passed, of people suffering dehydration because no-one told them they had to drink water even when the skies are cloudy and grey. Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun? Well, so do I, an Englishwoman, but I take a bag of common sense with me, just to be on the safe side.

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About julietmchugh

Fiction writer from the North East of England with a taste for the gruesome and macabre, unusually obsessed with container gardening!

7 responses to “Mad Dogs & Englishmen”

  1. Kate Gilmore says :

    Here we call it weather porn.

    • julietmchugh says :

      You couldn’t call it that here. Someone would get upset and start a campaign to make it an arrestable offence to say it. Plus, if it’s not just plain old grey and drizzling here (and I don’t mean a geriatric with continence issues), there’s mass media-fuelled panic. I’m sure this country didn’t used to grind to a halt for the weather!

  2. J.D.Hughes says :

    I wondered why I repeatedly collapse in the garden. I thought it might be the whiskey, but now I know it’s that mysterious orangey thing you mentioned.

    Good points, Juliet, but you know that even if the temperature was a delightful 24C all the time the English would still complain about the weather and the BBC would explain in great detail – supported by scientists looking for a media career – how 24C is exactly the evil temperature at which England is destined to become a desert within ten years, honey bees are rendered impotent and flesh eating diseases are most comfortable.

    • julietmchugh says :

      Indubitably they would complain. But why can they not remember, within the same five years never mind ten, how to deal with a heat wave, cold snap, whichever it may be? They’ve always happened and everyone was not only born but two months ago. Why do they need to be spoon-fed every damn day of their lives?!

      • J.D.Hughes says :

        ‘Cos fings ain’t wot they useter be? Because everyone is a Chief but behaves like an Indian? Fluoride? Or maybe an education system and a society that tells people they are victims and blameless and no matter what catastrophe they cause someone will always pick up the pieces. Could be sunspots, of course.

      • julietmchugh says :

        It’s frightening. We didn’t used to have this but it appears to be infectious as it’s not only those who have grown up with the spoon feed mentality that are affected. I’m almost glad of my hermit-like existence!!

      • J.D.Hughes says :

        We might be returning to mediaevalism. It’s what happens when responsibility is abrogated and passed to others for beer and skittles. The illusion of being in control persists of course, but the reality is cipherhood. Keep being a hermit, J, and never watch the BBC or other organs of deception 🙂

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