Thursday, 16 August 2018

I don’t miss the heat, but I will

It was merely a few weeks ago, when walking down from a swim at the leisure spa, that I escaped into the shade of the tree-lined pavement, just to stay cool. It was as hot at seven-thirty in the evening as at three in the afternoon.

Tonight, feeling chilled and wearing a hoodie, I avoided the shadows and walked into the retreating patches of still-warm sunlight. Curled, brown leaves had collected in drifts at footpath edges. In the low light, under a cloudy sky, I could have been taking a walk in an autumn breeze, rather than a stroll on a mid-August evening.

At home the burnished lawn is shaking off its straw covering and tussocks of green appear like tufts of hair on a balding skull. Ferns, collapsed in the heat, have righted themselves. I’m glad I didn’t waste precious energy cutting them back. Nature has provided its own remedy.

Soon the plants I bought for ‘mum’s garden’ will go into their flower beds as the soil dampens and loses its cracked, parched form.

The replenished pond needs to be cleared of duck-weed and wild, wispy stems of rambler roses and honeysuckle need cutting.

Potted tomato plants, so thirsty only days ago, are rejuvenated and reward us with round, ripe, red fruit. My French beans are losing their dried leaves to yield bright green growth, new flowers and another crop of pods which will fill out now the rains have come.

But would we have had it any other way? Would we have wanted grey skies, cool evenings, wet lunchtimes, dull afternoons and more weeding than watering? A heat wave can show us a new way of being. It makes us value water as a vital commodity, a precious necessity. I don’t miss the heat. But I will. 

Friday, 10 August 2018

Food shopping or how to become a grown-up

I remember, rather too well, one scar-tissue event in an otherwise very happy childhood. And I wonder whether I need to go through rebirthing. Otherwise I might always have an obsession about food-shopping!

I was about nine when mum asked me to go to our local post office - for an errand - in Villiers Square. It meant a short walk between playing fields and the crossing of one road until I got to a square consisting of shops, laundry/ dry cleaners, hairdressers and The Villiers Arms. But if I were to be ‘transported’ back into my deepest memories I might find reasons for my love-hate relationship with purchasing our daily bread ( and other comestibles). And this curious relationship with fodder may relate to this particular point in time down there in Villiers Square. None of us likes queues but, in soi-disant 'friendly' corner shops in particular, I often feel I’m going to do something foolish. The League of Gentlemen hinted at something like it with their ‘local shop for local people’ comedic phrase. So I’m not the only one who feels inadequate...
And maybe my discomfort is because of some of these early, indelible experiences.

I seem to remember that I was sent to buy potatoes from our PO. But surely that’s wrong? I wouldn’t be carrying such heavy items as potatoes as a child? Nevertheless images of five big, dusty sacks of potatoes - dwarfing me - have remained in my mind’s eye.

On that day, when I was nine, I panicked. I didn’t know what kind of potatoes I wanted - there were so many varieties - and I was ignored for so long - I was short and hardly reached the counter - I almost walked out. I felt foolish and upset.
Thereafter I used to avoid doing errands... Typical-avoidance-behaviour -leading-to-a-phobic-response my A level textbooks would say.

I had a similar experience one Sunday morning while staying at my aunts’ flat. It was a treat to stay over for the weekend and be picked up by dad who’d take me home for Sunday lunch. 

Before I went home aunties gave me some pocket money. At the sweet shop next door I waited to be served ‘Bluebird toffees’. There I was in yet another queue. There I was ignored yet again and the adults served first. 

At the counter I politely asked, I was well trained, for a ‘A quarter of bluebirds, please.’ At which point the shopkeeper laughed at me and said they didn’t come in a jar. I was nine and didn’t feel like getting the joke. Eventually he relented. He clearly thought he was a great tease. And had lost his vocation. 'Should have been on the stage, don't you know'. But I was merely a little girl asking for a small bag of toffees. I could have been scarred for life!

Every time I go to our local grocery store - a good 25 minute walk up and down a hill - I do something daft. It’s healthy exercise and it’s good to see the shops and familiar faces in the village square. But I must need therapy for my repetitive clumsy behaviour at the food counter.

When there’s a queue forming behind me I can’t find my money fast enough or I drop some change on the floor. Or I forget that for items less than £30 I can ‘go contactless’ and I always put my card on the wrong part of the reader and have to be told how to use it. ( At my age!) Or I put my basket on the wrong till. 

Or - like yesterday - I loaded a few items: apples, cat food etc, in my shopping bag only to find it full of water. I walked out of the store with my bag taking a pee. I sat down in the gutter outside ( a fine sight!) and tipped the water away into a drain.

My non-single use water bottle, aren’t I being plastic-aware?  has a useless screw top. It often leaks but I usually spot it before I find myself walking around with a bag in which goldfish could happily take a swim. 

Something always happens when I go in that shop...Refined and sophisticated, cool, calm and collected I am not.

One day I will go in there like a normal adult. Make my purchases. Pay promptly and walk out with some decorum. 

Maybe, though, it isn’t me. Is it the comments of certain servers that spark early food-shopping insecurities andmaybe it's them that need to alter? Is it my memory of being teased that makes me self conscious and flustered as I get to the till? Is it just food shopping that makes me behave like someone brought up in an institution like 'Lowood', deprived and isolated from warm, human contact, in Jane Eyre? If I’m buying a dress or shoes or a magazine - or best of all stationery items - I don’t regress to the little girl who couldn’t reach the counter. 

More likely it’s simply I hate queues and I get impatient ... and I’m good at avoiding doing errands. Just as I did when I was nine. Funny how I’ve often preferred the impersonality of a supermarket to corner shops. But not always. It depends on the person serving. Friend or foe.
I don’t think I’ll go for psychoanalysis just yet. Not until I’ve stabbed someone at the cash register.
‘Would m’lud take into account the defendant's early childhood experiences before passing sentence?’ 

Quarter of bluebirds anyone?

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Instructions for a Heatwave

We discussed Maggie O’Farrell’s ‘Instructions for a Heatwave’ at book group some time back in 2014. I had been most impressed with O’Farrell’s ‘The Hand That First Held Mine,’ introduced to us by Lucy English while studying for an MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. Thank you Lucy for showing us pages packed with intensity, emotion, intrigue and unforgettable writing. 

I didn’t feel the same enthusiasm for O’Farrell’s ‘Instructions’ and at her talk in the Bath Literary Festival I didn’t feel drawn to ‘I am, I am, I am’ - her latest work. But I’m open to persuasion.

‘Instructions’ disappointed me in that its title bore no relation to what we understand by a heatwave. We have, apparently, endured the country’s hottest day ever today. At least one dog has died from heatstroke on his morning walk. Cows in Somerset have been left with little water after hooligans tampered with their supplies. Lettuces and peas are suffering in the heat and we are likely to see few of these home grown crops in the near future. Those we do see will be at inflated prices.

Even at the domestic level Richard and I are making mental lists of things to be done on a daily basis - mostly before 10 am or after 7 pm.
My own instructions for a heatwave revolve around the use of water. We still have plenty, it seems, and we have yet to suffer a hosepipe ban.

But, I wonder, how many of you are as barmy as we are in trying to protect our vegetable garden.

When we went on holiday in early July I put a parasol over my short but productive rows of spinach.
Our neighbour watered the parched leeks, lettuce, French beans, tomatoes and herbs in our absence. This was no mean feat as the water pipe to the hose needed fixing and our builder left it too late to get the job done. For at least seven days before our holiday we built up muscles like Popeye. We  showered everything with watering cans via the kitchen sink. Should we suffer a hosepipe ban we will surely be ahead of the curve.

My French beans also had their own parasol while we were awol and the leeks and lettuce were so established I left them to our neighbour’s good care.

On the day we left the phlox and cosmos began to wilt. I’d neglected the flowering plants. What to do? I more or less drained the water butt trying to care for them and, thankfully, they survived. 
I am still picking them as cut flowers but the soil beneath them is so cracked they require daily dollops of the wet stuff.

It is now at least 11 weeks since we had any rain and the water in the pond is much depleted. To add to the increasingly long list - in order to help pond creatures - we now have to fill buckets of tap water and leave them on the patio for gases to escape. Then replenish the pond very gently so as not to shock any sheltering, quivering aquatic beasties. On top of that our naughty visiting badgers, who clearly partied hard on the lawn a couple of weeks back, now have to have dishes of water left out for them, as do hedgehogs and all manner of night-time garden guests. 

Yesterday, it being a mere 77 degrees in the shade, I did ‘real’ gardening: trimming the rose arches, snipping the burnished lawn, cutting back dead and dying montbretia, feeding more precious plants, making a flower bed out of potted plants and dead-heading. It took two hours in the relative cool of the day.

Richard’s broad bean crop has produced the grand total of five pods. But his potatoes have met with greater success. Where was the hose when he needed it? His vegetables are thirty feet away from our kitchen at the top of the garden. We may have the arms of Popeye but neither of us has the strength of Hercules. Thus the broad beans didn’t get watered and they suffered from black fly. Ho hum.

The front garden has managed to look less like a wasteland. Cosmos, antirrhinum and bedding plants have coped. They are erect, purple and pink and are a gladsome sight. But they too need buckets of water on a daily basis.

Needless to say I’m barely sitting outside absorbing the sun’s rays. It’s a full time occupation caring for the gardens, and going for walks or a swim in the cool of the evening.

I could list all our tasks and call them ‘Instructions for a Heatwave’ but I’ve barely started ... constantly covering the cat food from maggot-laying flies...having cold showers... opening all the windows and doors but having to shut everything for a fifteen minute trip to the shops... remembering the factor 30, sun hat, sun glasses and constantly filling my bottle with water.

I seem to be soooo busy. Especially in comparison with one of our neighbours who is loving every moment of this prolonged sun-bask and is sitting back under her parasol, taking it easy and reading in the shade. 

I must be getting something wrong. Is it, perhaps my active interest in gardens? Am I overly concerned when plants are water-distressed? Shouldn’t I be doing normal things like having a hair cut and sunbathing instead of working myself to a frazzle?

I ought to be like my neighbour, sitting calmly under her parasol reading books about the i ching.

My instructions for a heatwave read somewhat differently.

Monday, 23 July 2018

False News?

Having followed the excellent Hulu production - with Elisabeth Moss - of The Handmaid’s Tale I’m re-reading it. Although re-reading is too grand a gerund to use as I only dipped into aspects of the novel when teaching some of the more harrowing scenes. I showed my older students the chilling Natasha Richardson version (1990). I refer to the event where a Handmaid is ceremoniously hanged and a male ‘felon’ is mobbed to death. I compared this interpretation with the Carrousel in ‘Logan’s Run’. Both stories show what can happen in a world short of resources, a world at war or a world coping with the after-effects of war. Death becomes ritualised and is called ‘salvaging’ or carrousel.

I’ve only read a third of Margaret Attwood’s novel but if I didn’t know the story line I’d be begging for answers to her open-ended scenes. Maybe that’s the point. June/Offred is thrown into a world - not quite prison - against her will and knows very little. We, the readers, know very little too.

Today I had to go for tests at my GP surgery following a slipped disc earlier in the year. But no-one seems to be able to tell me exactly what they are looking for in these tests. One letter told me I was fine but in the surgery Nurse Ratchett said various things were wrong with me and I had a lot to think about. Today, apparently, I’m fine, again.

I mention this as on page 29 in my edition of Handmaid the phrase ‘false news’ is used. So Donald Trump didn’t invent the phrase then. (Attwood penned it in 1985.)

Have I, having been sent for ‘tests’, been a victim of ‘false news’? I went through a similar process some nine years ago. I had tightness in my chest when swimming and made an appointment with my GP. From then on ‘chest tightness’ was interpreted as ‘chest pain’. No matter how many times I said I wasn’t in pain, as they stuck another ECG electrode on me, I was rushed through a batch of tests to check my overall health. It was very kind of them to spend time with me in this way but as I lay in A&E surrounded by very sick-looking people I merely felt guilt, not pain, for taking up a bed.

As I write I’m sounding confident that today’s tests were taken in a similar light ie the GP is just making sure my liver function is fine ( I hardly drink but I have been overweight). If it isn’t - something I haven’t even considered - no-one has told me what I do about it. Now my slipped disc is better I can move normally, the weight has dropped off me and I’m assuming I’m well. Fingers crossed.

I know everyone in the NHS, like in state education, is run off their feet but being ‘processed’ doesn’t sit easily with me. I’m simply not sure what ‘they’ are looking for.

And I wonder whether June/Offred - in Handmaid - feels the same. Clearly her situation is far worse than mine as she is no longer in her own home, has been separated from her loved ones, can’t read or go to work in a job of her choosing, lives in peril under a very strict behavioural code and can be tortured with cattle prods or sent to ‘The Colonies’ to die a lingering death. To say nothing of enduring ritualised, non-consensual sex.

But when we don’t know why things are happening to us and no-one seems to be able to give the depth of answer we seek - and conflicting results are given - what do we do?
Resort to the internet?

GPs tell me not to believe everything I read on the internet. So how do we get ‘the knowledge’? Or don’t we ever get it? Are we surrounded by ‘false news’, mere victims - processed by the state? Put up and shut up as it’s all done for our own good, of course.

Friday, 13 July 2018

And now the White Paper

Two years ago we were on holiday in the bailiwick of Guernsey. A crown dependency. As Guernsey is not in the EU we were interested to see how they fared outside EU jurisdiction.
We voted in the EU referendum. Before we left home we posted our referendum voting slips. We did our duty - we placed our votes as members of a democracy, which constitutes a hard-fought-for set of rights.

And then we went on our hols.
Distances on an island are short. In Guernsey we were able to walk to beaches, to smart hotels for a glass of wine, to parks to admire flower beds and goldfish in quiet ponds, to a local Marks and Spencer, to a bank and to a Co-op. The caretaker for our holiday residence said she felt that not being in the EU didn’t affect immigration. Indeed in hotels, supermarkets and cafes we were served by men and women from outside the waters of the bailiwick. It seemed, therefore, when waking up on June 23, 2016, that the result to leave the EU (and reduce immigration) would not have great material effect. If the overriding desire for leaving the EU was based on reducing immigration, inter alia, maybe the act of leaving wouldn’t actually give the Brexiteers what they wanted.

We could see that ‘there may be trouble ahead’ if only in the huge bureaucratic untangling to extricate ourselves from EU policy and practice. 

At the time, June 2016, the French minister for the Economy, Finance and Digital Affairs said that if England were to leave the EU it would end up being very small - a bit like Guernsey. As we saw it Guernsey was doing very well indeed. Although, as a tourist, one sees the gentrified areas. We didn’t see people struggling, labouring in fields or living in overcrowded accommodation. Such experiences are not on the tourist itinerary.

We’d hardly heard of the French minister at the time. His name is Emmanuel Macron.

As Guernsey is not a member of the EU its Protocol 3 relationship, whatever that is, is shared with the Channel Islands of Jersey and Alderney and the Isle of Man. But, although Guernsey is not part of the UK, when the UK leaves the EU Protocol 3 will have to be replaced by new trade in goods arrangements.
We’ve heard a lot about the Irish border but nothing about the crown dependencies.

This summer we went to Ireland and paid for our groceries, petrol,beers, wine and Guinness in euros. Ireland is part of the EU. Again they seem to be doing very nicely. Again we were served by non-Irish men and women in pubs, bars and cafes and on Irish Ferries. 

The similarities between Guernsey and Ireland are worth commenting upon further, I think. The parts of County Wexford we saw is pretty, calm, rural and has good roads and empty beaches. Guernsey’s roads are busier - but on an island there are fewer roads and traffic is bound to be more intensive. Otherwise both Guernsey and Ireland were welcoming, rural, happy places. Ideal for holidays away from the busy - but beautiful - city of Bath. 

Just as schools break up, our own summer holiday has ended. It's back to earth with a bump - and Brexit. And to add to my sins I'm trying to focus on the White Paper:


Re: Ireland and Northern Ireland the White Paper says:

“Taken together, such a partnership would see the UK and the EU meet their commitments to Northern Ireland and Ireland through the overall future relationship: preserving the constitutional and economic integrity of the UK; honouring the letter and the spirit of the Belfast (‘Good Friday’) Agreement; and ensuring that the operational legal text the UK will agree with the EU on the ‘backstop’ solution as part of the Withdrawal Agreement will not have to be used.”

I understand a bit of that.

I’ve only read the first few pages of the 104-page White Paper. As far as I can see Guernsey is mentioned thus:

“The UK will be seeking specific arrangements for the Crown Dependencies, Gibraltar and the other Overseas Territories. These arrangements should take account of the significant and mutually beneficial economic ties between these economies and EU Member States, including their overseas countries and territories.”

I’m not sure how leaving the EU affects the Channel Islands if new arrangements are to 
“take account of ... significant ... ties between these economies and EU Member States.”

That doesn’t read like a huge change to me.
And I think that’s what Brexiteers are cross about: That the White Paper seems to show, from March 2019, we would hardly be shifting our position re: the EU. We may as well stay in. I repeat may.

Thankfully I’m living on a teacher’s pension and am not having to consider things like workforce, customs, profit and loss or trading partners. I can follow Brexit manoeuvring at a remove. Rising prices are certainly affecting me, but then so is the increase in the interest rate. And this latter has nothing to do with the EU. (Now we are both semi-retired I'm glad we only have a tiny mortgage.) 

When I’ve read all 104 pages of the White Paper I may understand more and be able to make a better, informed opinion about how it affects us and others. I repeat may...

And I wonder what Theresa really thinks...

Saturday, 30 June 2018

A heatwave is no holiday

The list of jobs to do before we cross the Irish sea to the wide, white beaches of Eire seems endless. I had, perhaps unwisely, put a mini spring clean on my to-do list - now my back is stronger. Things I couldn’t do when unable to bend or crouch, like cleaning our under-counter kitchen cupboards, have had to wait.
But I hadn’t reckoned on our sun trap of a breakfast room becoming soooo hot in the week before our dash to the glittering emeralds of Ireland. Cleaning in that room is as hot as standing in front of a 200C oven - with the door open.

I still haven’t managed the corrosive activity of cleaning the innards of the oven itself. That will - ahem - have to go on the back burner. And, in 85 F (29C), running down the road to catch up with our awol window cleaner resulted in my coming out in a torrent of sweat but still left me with windows which remain dusty and sand-blasted. Mr Squeaky-Clean has so many corporate cleaning jobs domestic ones aren’t his priority ... this week ...

But, in this who-knew-heat-wave, watering has reached new depths. The depths being the bottom of the water butt. Never have I seen it so empty so quickly. Do we start taking water from the pond? The frogs won’t like that and evaporation alone has caused its water levels to drop by 3 inches (7.6 cm).

I have packed an extra moisture-absorbent mulch around my rows of spinach and am shading them with a patio parasol while we are away. The umbrella is positioned so low over the spinach it’s hard to get a watering can under it... You win some ...

This week we have watered our front and back gardens twice a day but last night I needed watering myself. I must have become dehydrated. I was tired, hot, dizzy and had to go to bed early. I didn’t manage 7000 or 8000 steps and I had to give in. Getting up at 6 a.m. to catch persistent drips from a leaking boiler wotsit thingummy  (apparently a common design fault), hoovering and moving furniture to reach the leak, in scorching sunlight and top temperatures, waiting in for the engineer and drying out a water-damaged Turkish carpet may have had an effect on my energy levels. It’s just possible.

It’s certainly been a week of water. This afternoon I foolishly dropped my ‘Swiss made’ non- plastic water bottle on the bed - I was feeling pleased I’m not using single use plastic ones any more.
To my horror I didn’t put the lid on properly. The contents of the bottle now reside in the duvet cover, the duvet, the bedspread, the bottom sheets and right through to my £1100 mattress. 
It must be time for a holiday ...

Earlier today temperatures struggled to a mere 59F (15C). The lawn is like straw but the wilting plants have revived. After weeks of dry weather peering into the water butt is like looking at the bottom of a deep well. If I drop a coin in, and make a wish, would I hear it splash as it reached the dark waters below? How daft is it to carry full watering cans to refill the water butt given we will be on our holidays in a few days’ time?

Washing and ironing seem to be the next ‘must do’ tasks. We are running out of truly thin cotton trousers and dresses. The washing machine, an expensive one - it needs to be, is working very hard. On top of our cotton apparel it has taken cushion covers, bedspreads, rugs and other heavy-duty items during our extended heat wave. They dry so fast under a searing sky it’s a pity not to take the opportunity for a radical spring clean.

Except my legs are white. I haven’t sunbathed or sat on our patio in days. It’s simply too hot. Or am I just becoming a work horse? Driven to achieve absolute cleanliness like a perfectionist? More a domestic scrubber than goddess. Working myself into a frenzy yesterday was behaviour that was driven. And rather unlike me. Is this the nesting instinct run amok by climate change? 

But I’m not a bird - well not of the feathery species. And I can’t be pregnant, that’s for sure.  

The animal kingdom also changes its behaviour in these teeming temperatures. Our cat, truly heat-affected, ran up to the television last night and pawed the screen. The crows on the nature programme were safe. He couldn’t reach them beyond the glass.

This morning he pulled the bedroom light cord and switched it on. At 5 a.m! And he must have spotted yesterday’s Sainsbury delivery van. Today he won’t eat Whiskas (other cat food is available) and is staring us out until we open his cupboard to reveal expensive kitty treats. We are knackered. 

Perhaps, today, I should just chill...Ought I to get into the holiday spirit, cover myself with factor 30, lie on the sun lounger and leave the stains on the dining room chairs until we come back home? Bugger the beans. Take remedial action on our return ...

Or simply leave it all...
Let it be...

Take a break...

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Weather the Weather.

Isn’t it strange that in Britain we need to read articles about how to stay cool in the hot weather? Like we’ve never had hot weather before or no-one has the knowledge to pass down to our younger generation or new arrivals from the planet Zanussi.
When we have a snowfall here traffic comes to a halt, our supermarket shelves are empty five days later and A&E have additional winter stresses: broken bones from unrehearsed folk slipping on the ice.
Do we not know how to adapt to changes in the weather? Or is it that we are neither a very hot nor a very cold island thus we aren’t prepared for extremes?

My own frailty in these unexpected but welcome temperatures has been to stave off heat-induced migraine. It’s a combination of the unexpected glare from white-walled buildings, disrupted sleep patterns, dehydration and changes in eating habits that can create the malady.
In this particular sun-soaked spell of super-strength sunshine I appear to have come through it migraine-free. Hooray for that!

My own coping strategy is to drink even more iced-water than I generally consume on warm days. I always eat breakfast so that I am fed and watered before I use the hose or watering can to nourish my plants. I go to the shops before the heat is up too. 

I try to accomplish these chores by 10:00 or 11:00. a.m. And I always plaster myself with sun bloc, wear long sleeves, hat and shades. I dress as if I’m on my way for a sea-water swim in baking-hot Cyprus. Odd but cool and practical. Only a parasol is missing.

By midday I allow myself a rest or, when the temperature is mid-eighties (29C) or more, I take a siesta. The challenge is coping with the bright sunlight at 6:00 am. It’s a bugger waking up so early when you really want your energy to tackle household tasks before the heat becomes too much. And that lack of sleep can create a migraine. Oh the woes of the effects of glorious summer sunshine.

How must it be for the vast majority of people who are in full-time work? Labouring on a building site, creating bread in an already hot bakery or repairing wires atop a vertiginous telegraph pole, your head facing upwards, eyes blinded by penetrating rays from a fierce sun. I am the lineman for the county.

Sitting in a hot car, or on an airless bus or a delayed, overcrowded train must be, at the very least, exasperating. You’ve done a day’s work by the time you reach your place of employment. 

When at your desk you can’t lose your rag because of feeling weary after a sleepness night in a hot bedroom. You can’t shout at the phone because your stress levels from a hard journey into work are trying your patience. Everyone else is likely the same.

At least at home it’s easy to keep all the windows and doors open and just go for walks in the cool of the evening. And you can swear at things getting stuck down the plughole in the kitchen sink or flies hovering around the cat’s food. You can lose your temper and not risk alienating anyone else in the room or a client at the end of the phone. But what if you have to go into town or a big city, pollution hanging in the air like a toxic cloud? 

Yesterday my husband went shopping for our holiday. It was 85 degrees (29/30 C).Rather him than me. He came back ringing wet with sweat and could barely speak. He went for a lie down. Was it ever thus? Or is it getting hotter, drier and more stifling for longer than it ever did?

Today he needs to go in to the city to collect euros. Thankfully a delightful breeze has taken the sting out of the heat and temperatures are hitting a relatively cool 79 degrees (26C).

As I sit typing I sense I actually feel pleasantly warm rather than overwhelmed. The temperatures are dropping. I think we’ve peaked.

What other vagaries of the British weather will we endure next week? Hail storms or thunder and lightning? And how much does it matter when we have good water resources - at the turn of a tap - and enough to eat, petrol in the car and a crime-free neighbourhood allowing us to leave our front doors open?

We have a good life. It is frightening to think of those in refugee camps or living in perennially hot countries suffering crop failure. 

Enjoy the heat while we can, I say! In Britain it’s a gift. Not a threat.