Weather wise

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The Independent Online
SHALL I compare thee to a summer's day? Newspapers have a limited number of ways of doing this. Having made a completely unscientific trawl of front pages printed in times of excessive heat, interesting patterns emerge.

A genuine "Phew, wot a scorcher!" splash headline is rare these days, last spotted, I seem to remember, in the Daily Mirror in August 1976. But the photographs used to illustrate a mid-summer heatwave show a touching reverence for tradition.

As far as national tabloids go, a nice big picture of elderly people sprawled in deckchairs and eating icecream in Hyde Park is always a runner. As an alternative, enormous young men with few clothes and big tattoos illustrate a hot day nicely. Hard to credit it, but the knotted handkerchief atop a reddening pate still gets a look in, as does that old standby - street urchins playing by a broken fire hydrant.

Broken fire hydrants, and the resulting watery japes remain popular in the local press, especially in places like Glasgow and Belfast, where urchins, and hydrants, are still found. Unseasonably warm weather, say in February or November, is usually illustrated with a trusty beach shot, a toddler playing in the chill shallows or maybe building a sandcastle.

The broadsheets also send photographers to Hyde Park when the mercury climbs, but instead of acres of flabby flesh, attractive young ladies are the usual target, in as much of a state of undress as editors think they can get away with. If they are classy babes with glasses of fizz, all the better. Underneath the picture will be an inevitable article about global warming. Occasionally, a knotted handkerchief may be shown, but purely in the interests of irony.