What a climatically mad, and maddening, country is Britain.
Last Sunday I watched cricket at Lord’s dressed in
sweater and anorak, and was still chilled to the marrow by a fierce northerly
breeze. While I was suffering in misery
for my obsession with our summer sport, my wife had switched on most of the
house radiators. On Sunday evening we
even considered lighting a fire.
Since then I’ve been wandering about in shorts and t-shirt. Newspaper photographs throughout the week
have depicted beaches packed with cavorting, virtually naked, people apparently
reduced to dementia by the sight of the sun.
In my garden, plants that emerged only reluctantly during the arctic monsoon
are now wilting for want of water.
For the past several weeks, during which it has rained
incessantly, and often torrentially, we have been asked to observe a hosepipe
ban. Now that we are basking in
brilliant sunshine the talk is that the ban will be soon be lifted. The dog days have arrived early.
The weather forecast is calculated, as it so often is,
to bring us all back to reality, with predictions of rain and overcast for the
Jubilee celebrations. Flaming June,
according to those intrepid folk at the Meteorological Office, may be far from
fiery. For the approaching Olympic
jamboree there may be – for all I know, or care – a chance of snow.
But for now, we have a glimpse of the summers of
childhood memory: dappled sunlight on the lawn, the hum of mowers off in the
distance, endless cricket commentary on the radio.
Devoid of literary inspiration in the enervating heat,
I’m off to the garden, cold drink in hand rather than a hard tool, to get some
blush onto porcelain legs.