Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.


Susie Rushton: Why the Aussie life is hell on earth for Brits

Urban Notebook

By the time you read this, if the forecasters are correct, the heat will have broken and we'll be back to normal, middling-warm July days. It'll be a shame, in some ways: the soaring temperatures have made the city unrecognisably languorous. But a proper heatwave – declared level three by the Met Office, one notch below the category at which everything turns to sand – has also exposed how hopelessly unsuited Londoners are to temperatures over 30C.

For the resident Aussies this week has been a taste of home. Yesterday The Brisbane Times, after detailing with amazement the "pale bodies" tanning in Hyde Park, sniggered at the health warnings posted by British authorities. "Like beauty, 'heatwave' is obviously in the eye of the beholder," began an article headlined: "One country's heatwave is another's winter's day."

For the past five days I've actually been trying to adopt the lifestyle choices that Brisbanites enjoy year-round. It's been a total flop. For instance, while our flat has a balcony – the size of a coffee-table – if we lit a barbeque on it, the next-door neighbours could lean over to check if the sausages are done. And I'd probably burn their house to cinders. On Tuesday, I went swimming. The only option is an indoor pool, which was crowded with fair-weather swimmers, none of whom understood lane discipline. The water was too warm, and the showers and poolside area had the slightest patina of algae.

The part about obsessively watching sport hasn't been difficult, given that it's the business end of the Wimbledon fortnight, but I've been doing that inside with the curtains drawn.

Alfresco boozing is probably the only element of the classic Aussie lifestyle that it's been possible to replicate here. On Wednesday my boyfriend and I slumped, dewy-faced and sleepy, at a table outside our non-air-conditioned local, surrounded by sunburned women squawking and stumbling and dropping brimming glasses of white wine on themselves. One city's idea of a regular winter's day is another's hell on earth.

Feud is a real money-spinner

Do Jen and Ange have an arrangement? Their epic tabloid "feud", whether real or imagined, appears to have bloated their annual salaries: in the latest Forbes Celebrity 100 list, Aniston and Jolie are the number two and one seeds, with $25m (£15.2m) and $27m respectively. Do the likes of The Changeling and Marley & Me really warrant bank-bailout-sized paychecks? The lurid stories fuel fascination with the pair, putting bums on seats at the cinema. Don't expect these two to make up any time soon.