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UK heatwave

Terrible, all this good weather we’re having

People enjoying hot weather on the beach at St Tropez, 1971. Slim Aarons/Getty

It was with some trepidation, says Ross Clark in The Spectator, that I set out on a hike in the roasting hills of southwest France. The mercury was due to hit 37C, a level that is “lethal”, if the British press are to be believed, “even if you are sitting around the garden”. The current UK heatwave, says the media, is expected to “kill thousands of Britons”. In daring to brave such extreme temperatures, I would surely go down in local legend as the “foolish Englishman who perished after going out in the midday sun”.

“I needn’t have worried.” I met plenty of locals out enjoying the warm weather, “including at least one family who had taken their young children on a stroll of several miles”. Take a “sunhat and plenty of water” and there is nothing to be afraid of. In the end, I walked 20 miles in heat the Met Office regards as pretty well unsurvivable unless you “stay indoors with a cold towel around your head”. Of course, in the grim orthodoxy of our climate-panicked times, sunny weather is not something to be enjoyed, but a “portent of doom” – divine punishment for the decadent lifestyles of the rich and “capitalism in general”. What rubbish. Thank God I’m on holiday in the South of France, where life goes on despite high temperatures, and “people are allowed to enjoy, rather than feel guilty about”, hot weather.

⛄️🚗 People from other countries are often “puzzled by the British attitude to the weather”, says Michael Deacon in The Daily Telegraph. “We’re so melodramatic about it.” When he was writing Notes from a Small Island (1995), the American author Bill Bryson read a newspaper report about a “blizzard” that had “gripped” East Anglia. This blizzard, said the report, had covered some areas with “more than two inches of snow”, and created “drifts up to six inches high”. Bryson says he “drafted a letter to the editor in which I pointed out, in a kindly, helpful way, that two inches of snow cannot possibly constitute a blizzard and that six inches of snow is not a drift. A blizzard, I explained, is when you can’t get your front door open. Drifts are things that make you lose your car till spring.”