I never thought I’d be saying this, but good grief it’s hot in London! The temperatures have been stifling over the last few days with no one knowing where to shove their heads to hide from the sun and extreme humidity.
As I write this, my house-mate is hosing down his cat and dog to provide some much-needed relief to the poor animals. Children and the elderly have been advised to stay indoors and the truth of the matter is that I don’t think London is prepared for heat like this.
Before we left home, everyone was harping on about how cold London is and how we’re not going to manage; but the difference is that London is actually prepared for winter: insulated houses, central heating, thermal clothing, thermal blinds, built-in heaters, the list is endless; but come summer and its sweltering temperatures and everyone seems to have been taken by surprise.
Every single shop we went to in search of a fan or air conditioner was sold out and despite being told by shop attendants that they would not be getting new stock anytime soon, the steaming Brits still stared intensely at the shelves, biting their fingernails as if some would magically appear.
The local weather service, Met Office, has issued a level three (out of four) heat wave alert – the first time it has done so since June 2006 – with temperatures expected to hit some 32 degrees Celsius. While this doesn’t sound too warm, it becomes stifling when combined with the humidity. The situation does not improve when the sun goes down, with night-time temperatures hovering around 18 degrees.
Walking down the street is extremely uncomfortable and it’s not long until you’re a dripping, sweaty mess. But it’s not only the humans that are suffering; according to reports, rabbits in Biggin Hill have been given special ice packs and are sheltering under umbrellas, while dogs are standing in containers of water to keep cool. Bristol Zoo Gardens is feeding its monkeys ice-cream cones topped with carrot sticks, while monkeys at another zoo are munching on fruit pieces that have been frozen in ice blocks.
Of course, fingers are being pointed in one direction – climate change – with warnings that summer temperatures could hit 40 degrees this year, bringing with them flash floods; a huge knock to the economy as people pull sickies to take advantage of the sunshine; and an increase in insurance claims as many are expected to leave their windows open to air out their houses, leaving them vulnerable to burglars.
I just feel sorry for those poor tennis players in Wimbledon. Now, where did I put that ice-cream?