Simon Kelner: We're simply not made for this bothersome weather

Kelner's view


Why is the automatic assumption in Britain that hot, sunny weather is a good thing?

The newspapers are filled with pictures of people (perhaps, more correctly, I should say young women) frolicking in the sea at Brighton, with triumphal headlines saying it's hotter here than Marbella. Or was it Mars? Glorious day, strangers say, by way of a greeting. And there is a common belief that sunshine puts everyone in a good mood.

Well, I don't mean to be an old curmudgeon, but I really don't like it. I am hot. And I'm bothered by it. Give me a crisp autumn day, or even a cold winter one, rather than the sweat-inducing, stifling heat we are experiencing at the moment. Great news! It's 28 degrees! Well, it's not actually. I'd prefer a temperature in the high teens, which means that I can sleep at night and I can arrive at work without feeling that I have perspired all the water out of my body.

Have you noticed, too, what rubbish it is that this blast of sun has lifted the national mood. People may be a bit gloomy when we have day after day of miserable, grey weather, but at least they're not irascible, bad-tempered and liable to explode into a road rage incident at any moment. Central London felt more like Dar es Salaam yesterday, the streets clogged with traffic, the pavements teeming with humanity and the pollution almost tangible.

We know the capital had a reputation as a melting pot: we just didn't realise it had a literal meaning, too.

The truth is we are a cold weather people: that's what we're designed for, and it's what we know how to dress for. Sure, when we're on holiday, we'll lap it all up, but we shouldn't kid ourselves that this kind of heat is anything other than an inconvenience if you are actually working.

I remember Jeremy Clarkson, in one if those familiar pieces poking fun at the global warming lobby, saying: Wouldn't it be terrible! Britain would have a climate like the South of France. In fact, that might well be pretty terrible, unless we adopted a way of life consistent with endless heat, stopping for a couple of hours for lunch, and then going home for a sleep before returning to work for a few hours in the evening.

I am not sure how that would fit in with the imperatives to increase growth in the eurozone. It's all well and good having southern European weather, but when you've not got a southern European temperament, it just isn't sustainable.

Of course, man-made climate change is not about the gradual transformation of East Grinstead into Aix-en-Provence; its effects are to be seen in extreme weather "events" - hurricanes, floods, droughts, and the like. And I'm not saying that this brief spell of boiling hot weather is further, incontrovertible proof of global warming, but intense heat does seem to be more of a phenomenon in Britain than intense cold these days.

This spell will continue over the weekend, but there is some good news on the horizon: the advance forecast for June says that temperatures are going to be much lower!

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