HEATWAVE! screamed most of the papers today. I was confused. What about all the other freesheet staples? After all, Michael Jackson’s still dead isn’t he? I’m pretty sure swine flu’s still tearing through the country at an exponential rate; the pandemic claimed its third victim today. Actually, I’m surprised the morning tabloids didn’t try to put some of their trademark sensationalist spin on that one. Something like, SWINE FLU DEATHS IN UK TRIPLE OVERNIGHT, perhaps.
But no, the shocking news dominating this morning’s headlines was that it’s going to be hot. In the summer. This is clearly the biggest weather scoop since everyone got themselves all wound up over the emergence of some snow in winter earlier this year, a freak event so completely baffling and unexpected that it forced Boris Johnson and his cronies to remember that they’ve got jobs and smash out the not at all reactionary measure of cancelling every single bus running anywhere in London.
So today, confirming that Britain is indeed absolutely incapable of dealing with any weather that can’t be described simply as ‘a little bit grey’, the media got all hot and bothered with headlines like these. “UK braces for heatwave”, said the Guardian. Braces? I’ve been outside and nowhere, nowhere, have I seen anyone crouching on the ground, face tucked in their knees, in anticipation of some unwelcome sunshine crashing down on them. In fact, this picture from the Guardian’s own website today clearly demonstrates how most people are dealing with the onset of such hellish weather.
“‘Killer heat’ warning”, bellowed The Sun. It seems like some people may have taken this collection of words a tad too literally, with police stationed at 10 Downing Street instructed to fire at will at any hot weather suspected of attempting to approach the prime minister. Well, if this picture’s anything to go by, at least.
Just as a little bit of white stuff floating down from the sky sent an entire country’s infrastructure into meltdown and chucked us all into apocalyptic, Day After Tomorrow-style anarchy in February, now a couple of rays of hot light caressing our pallid, delicate British skin has opened the floodgates to all kinds of vociferous headlines. I give it 24 hours before the entire nation is stock-car racing to B&Q in its Ford Mondeos to panic-buy every single fan left on the shelves, before scurrying back into dimly-lit cubbyholes with World War Two blackout paint on the windows to avoid spontaneously combusting and leaving a pile of smoking remains on the pavement.
If you don’t believe me, it’s started already. The Met Office has issued a Level 2 health warning. At this level, apparently, the NHS swings into action. In other words, it stops working on important new posters to tell us how to wash our hands or which is usually the best hole in the body to put food into – okay, I made the second one up – and issues advice on how to cope with the heat. Here is some of that advice:
“Stay out of the heat in the hottest times of the day between 11am-3pm; wear a hat outdoors; stay cool indoors using fans, using wet sponges, taking baths and showers, blocking out sunlight with blinds or curtains and drinking plenty of water.” Okay, good advice, you may think.
But it goes on, and becomes increasingly more bizarre, impractical and, frankly, irresponsible.
“Sprinkling water over clothes and skin and keeping a cold damp cloth around your neck can also help keep you cool wherever you are.” Sounds nice and refreshing, but I work in an office. This would never be allowed – health and safety would have an embolism. They’d probably make everyone carry around their own personal little yellow hazard signs to avoid the otherwise inevitable carnage. In fact, more people would probably suffer death or serious injury from slipping in the hundreds of little puddles all over the workplace than would suffer any negative effects of the heat.
“Keep windows that are exposed to the sun closed during the day, and open windows at night when the temperature has dropped.” Right, two minor problems spring to mind here. During the day is surely when you want the windows open to let the searing heat out and some fresh air in, whereas during the night you shut the fuckers to keep out burglars, bats or any other night-time predators. The BFG, for instance.
However, the final piece of summer-ruining, soul-destroying NHS advice on how to safely enjoy the hot weather really takes the biscuit: “A nice cold beer might seem tempting, but alcohol should be avoided as it will dehydrate you”. Fuck. Off.
I’d imagine a much better approach would be to blatantly disregard all of this. Just enjoy the hot weather while it lasts, which will probably be until Friday if past weather-related overreactions are anything to go by. The papers are already bored: by the evening commute, the London Paper et al were back to proffering their endless Jackson coverage, this time with Pa Jackson saying some “foul play” may have been involved in his son’s death.
Still, at least MJ’s untimely passing has spared us an otherwise likely event that would have given the press their ultimate newspaper-flogging hot-weather headline: MICHAEL JACKSON MELTS AS HEATWAVE HITS COMEBACK CONCERT.