Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Cold Comfort

No wonder British people are depressed. Wouldn't you want to put your head down the toilet and flush it when it rains through August and you know after that it's just going to turn rainier and colder. In truth, the national malaise has nothing to do with credit, crunches or crises, it's about cumulonimbus praecipitao and its ubiquitous cousins.

There we all were in stringy dresses and micro-thin strappy here-comes-the-sun t-shirts expecting summer. We are Londoners. We are eternally optimistic and snatch hope from the ether. We are waiting for summer. We do not expect the city to morph into Barbados or the Bahamas or even Bognor Regis in its Victorian summer heyday. We are low maintenance sun worshippers. We don't need the full roast, not even a sub mark 2. Just a gentle low grill to take the edge off the omniprescent gloom. Instead we hunch into bitter winds that whip around bare shoulders and ankles and turn the hoped-for golden tan into goose bumps.

There was a moment last week as La Fille and I huddled together for warmth under a pushchair blanket (the only warm thing we could find) on the sofa wearing all the clothes we had with us to watch Monsters, Inc., (she won't watch it alone) when I seriously considered sparking the central heating. Central heating in August? How depressing is that?

Forced to abandon the park and go stir crazy indoors, I bit my mother's head off every time she launched into a "the trouble with this country is..." conversation. "Don't believe all that milk-and-honey tosh about France," I said expounding at length my unpopular theory that there is a reason Great Britain is called what it is. The problem was that with every raindrop that wept hysterically down the window pane I was tempted to agree with her. It didn't help when the Frenchman called and described in detail the seven circles of sweaty hell he was enduring in Paris: "It was so hot last night I could hardly sleep," he said. As he moaned about the heat, I wished death by a thousand pointy icicles upon him.

A few days later he arrived in London put on his linen shorts and predicted optimistically that there would be a change in the 'meteo'. He opened the back door - left it open - and went out to smoke a filterless Gitane. Within ten minutes max his knees had turned a kind of glassy blue colour. He scuttled upstairs to find a pair of trousers. "So it is true what they say about summer in England," he said rhetorically, disappearing before I could think of a pithy reply.

I'm depressed and I don't even live here anymore.

4 comments:

Working mum said...

Billy Connolly says there's no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing! I'm trying to cling to that thought as I drown in another English summer.

Ian Lidster said...

It does get depressing, doesn't it? Noel Coward reached the point in later life when he refused to spend another inclement season in London and moved to Jamaica. On the other hand, during the drought of 1976 I spent some of the hottest days in my life in London which at that time made visits to Rome or Honolulu seem coolish. May it get better for you.

Parisgirl said...

WorkingMum, love it. It's no better here in France I assure you.
Ian, thank you.

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