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Kathy Marks: 'Heat is on and I can't thank electrician enough'


I love my electrician. I love him because before he disappeared on a month-long break, as many Australians do in January, he installed a ceiling fan in my house. Without that fan, I’m not sure I would have survived today. I sat under it all day, and so did my dog.

Sydney, where the temperature reached 42.5C, was a strange place today. The streets were almost deserted, and the few hardy souls I saw out walking looked as if they were wading through treacle. The shops were open, but no one was shopping. It was too hot even to go to the beach.

It's ironic, really, because the reason I moved to Australia in 1999 was to escape the English weather, specifically the cold. Today I gazed longingly into the depths of my fridge, not in search of food but fantasising about climbing inside.

Last week, as temperatures soared around the country, I felt quite smug. Another day above 40C in Adelaide? How on earth would my poor sister-in-law cope? As for my friend who lives in Melbourne, well, I didn't envy him the 42C heat. Sydney, meanwhile, was a balmy 25C - perfect for a stroll in the park or a dip in the ocean. Today the laugh was on me as I took yet another cold shower and prowled my neighbourhood in search of ice. Apparently there had been a run on ice earlier in the day.

Passing a building site which employs dozens of labourers, I noticed the entire workforce had downed tools. Not surprising; no one was working much yesterday, apart from, perhaps, staff in ice cream shops. Heatwaves like this one are expected to become more common. Did I mention how much I love my electrician?