Catherine Townsend: Sleeping around

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The Independent Online

"That's it," I said, grabbing my clothes and mopping the sweat from my chest, "I'm out of here!" Just after 2am on the second night I'd spent at the house of my new lover, Grant, I realised the heatwave is driving me insane.

Grant is 6ft 3in with a copious amount of body hair. Normally I love hairy chests - I've always preferred manly men to waxed metrosexuals - but in a sweltering dark room it's like being covered with an electric blanket. I start to feel as if I'm being cuddled by a guy in a gorilla suit.

Summer is meant to be a time of unbridled hedonism, when sunlight stimulates the body to produce more serotonin to boost our moods. But this year, my libido seems to be falling as the mercury rises. I won't go back to a man's place without obsessing over the size of his unit - his air-conditioning unit, that is. When tempers flare as quickly as the temperature, everyone gets a bit ratty and something as simple as an outing to the corner shop has the potential to turn into a meltdown.

But the heat does have its advantages. "Warm day, isn't it?" acts as a ready-made opening line for the notoriously repressed British male - although it sounds better in the sunny park than when I'm dripping with sweat in a sweltering Tube. By that point I'm feeling murderous, not horny. So I headed to Holland Park in anticipation of spotting acres of bronzed, fit flesh.

Sadly, all I found were men with milky-white beer guts and numerous tattoos sunbathing alongside a guy in shorts who looked like a fat version of Frodo from Lord of the Rings.

I do not know any woman who would dare to bare all in the park without agonising over her flabby bits and ensuring she has the perfect fake tan/ wax/sarong combination. The builders near the park obviously do not subject themselves to the same level of scrutiny (many of the bare-chested horde have bigger breasts than me!) as they inquire, "Do you want some of this?" while gesturing vaguely toward their genitals.

But it's not just singletons who are struggling - couples are resorting to desperate measures to beat the heat. "Last night, my boyfriend and I were half naked, eating ice in a bid to cool down," said my girlfriend Victoria. "It wasn't erotic, in fact we fought over the last ice tray."

But things are looking up, because Grant just called to tell me that he's booked us into a boutique hotel. "I thought that we could have a dirty weekend in town," he said, adding, "it has amazing air conditioning." I told him to count me in. But first I have an afternoon encounter planned with a man who's got what I crave and knows how to satisfy me completely: he drives a Mr Whippy van.