Waiting For the Sky To Fall

Dear Readers, the heat and humidity in London for the past few days has been difficult to bear for those of us already prone to hot flushes –  this is the longest hot spell in London since 1961, with temperatures consistently going above 34 degrees. I can hear all you people who live in Australia and South Africa and Asia laughing your heads off, but here in the UK we aren’t used to it, and the heat island effect of being in the city means that it never really gets chilly. Poor old things we are, sweating at our laptops and trying to decide whether a cup of tea actually does help or not. And so last night, braving the mosquitoes, we sat in our back garden, listening to the thunder and watching the lightning hopefully. Sadly, we got not a drop of a wet stuff.

There is something about sitting quietly, waiting for something to happen. I noticed a crisp, dry leaf falling prematurely from the whitebeam and skittering down the trunk. I saw the beautiful fluffy black cat rummaging in the leaves, and summoned up the energy to chase him after he grabbed a frog and ran away with it. I saw lots more lazy wasps amidst all the bees and hoverflies, a sure sign of autumn if ever there is one.

The heat lay over everything like a damp towel. A fork of lightning appeared over by the block of flats, and a few drops of rain spattered down, and then stopped.

We were watching for bats, and one careered past, flying low over the lilac, zig-zagging above the pond and then round and off. I didn’t see another one. A robin sang half-heartedly for a few seconds and then stopped, as if embarrassed.

The darkness gathered, as it does.

And still no rain.  So many new houses and flats are built without adequate protection from the sun – there are some apartments with enormous windows half a mile from me, and they are all south-facing. During the last heatwave, I was listening to the radio and a young woman said that it was so dangerously hot indoors that she had to take her new baby and her toddler and sit in a cafe all day, nursing a drink for as long as she dared. We are not prepared for the world that is coming, not at all.

Mum used to hate it when it got too hot. She’d strip off to her bra and sit in her chair complaining. Latterly, she forgot how to use the electric fan so the neighbours used to pop in to make sure it was on. Like so many elderly people, she didn’t drink enough either. Dad, on the other hand, loved the sun, and would go brown at the merest whisper of sunlight. I rather like the heat, normally, but in the middle of a pandemic it feels like one more thing that’s out of my control, something else to bear.

I have scattered a handful of dog food in case the fox puts in an appearance. She doesn’t, but the frog-murdering cat enjoys it.

I slap at a mosquito, and notice that the single bite has somehow set off my heat rash – I have no idea why this happens, but a solitary nibble by a midge or gnat has me scratching all over. What a wreck I am. A drop in the temperature of about 10 degrees Fahrenheit would turn me into a completely different person. As it is I am a sweaty, exhausted, slightly headachy curmudgeon with no redeeming features whatsoever. I hope that, wherever you are, you are dealing with things better than I am.

15 thoughts on “Waiting For the Sky To Fall

  1. sllgatsby

    I am sorry you are having to deal with this, and so sorry for all the vulnerable people this will affect. Places where it’s normally hot have coping mechanisms in place: AC, thick walls, better insulation, fewer windows, and so on. It’s like when it snows in steep-hilled Seattle; it’s so rare that we don’t pay to have an army the snow plows and road salting teams that are common to snowy places. Things shut down.

    I was in London in late May couple of years ago and I could not believe how hot and humid it was and there was a thunderstorm the likes of which I’d never been in. It actually shut down Stansted airport. Crazy loud and long and constant flashes.

    Sadly, we don’t seem prepared as a species to do what it would take to fight climate change, so we must begin doing what it will take to survive the increasing heat and storms.

    I wish I could say it’ll all be okay. Or I wish someone would say it to me.

    1. Bug Woman

      The weather is definitely changing, and we are not prepared. I believe in people’s ability to adapt, but as you say it will be the most vulnerable who bear the brunt of climate change. I am hopeful but realistic, which is about the best I can do at the moment.

  2. Anne

    Of course I smiled, but having visited England a few times I am aware that these temperatures are not / have not been the norm. We don’t have AC in our home but keep the windows and doors shut and sometimes draw the curtains until the sun no longer shines directly into the windows and then – such bliss when everything can be opened again to allow the slightly cooler air to waft through our home! Winter, on the other hand, is a different kettle of fish: it gets cold here so seldom that we have nothing in the architectural sense to keep us warm! This means that on some days we feel it is freezing (and then it is your turn to laugh!) and so blankets remain a permanent feature in our lounge to cuddle under in the evenings …

    1. Bug Woman

      I remember when we went on holiday to Costa Rica, and the places that we stay had no windows to let the breeze through. We were freezing! I was never so glad to see a blanket 🙂

  3. Alittlebitoutoffocus

    I recall those hot and humid days in London. Commuting on the tube became a nightmare as all those hot and sweaty bodies crammed into the carriages – and then the Circle Line train stopped between Gloucester Rd and High St Kensington (outside in the blazing sunshine while we all cooked) for what seemed like an age. You were never more grateful for stepping off at the next stop. Thankfully we have a much drier heat here, so it’s not too bad when the thermometer hits 30 (which isn’t that often) and the evenings are much cooler up in the mountains (as you will no doubt already know). I hope it’s cooler today. 🙂

  4. Malachy Cotter

    Be careful what you wish for: We got a months rain in two hours the night before last with dramatic lightening. The allotment site flooded. Horrible smell. Crops spoiled. I spent the day emptying out, cleaning up and hosing down our shed .

      1. Bug Woman

        I thought you were a new reader, but then I thought ‘no, someone with an allotment in Edinburgh called Mal – that seems too much of a coincidence…’

  5. Katya

    I highly recommend installing ceiling fans in as many rooms as possible. This is an amazing invention that really works. You will be pleasantly surprised!


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