Finally, last week, the sun reached the British Islands. Temperatures soared to 25 degrees, every single patch of grass pullulated with Britons sun bathing and turning progressively pink (ignoring the weather man warning always to wear sun screen – the weather man in Britain sound like a HIV campaign: REMEMBER, ALWAYS WEAR PROTECTION), crowds of Pimm’s drinkers gathered outside pubs and restaurant… It was fun, colorful, it was… a normal week in late spring.
This for about two hours. After that, a word started crawling its way up to the British collective conscience… It’s HOT. Oh dear, it’s so hot, it’s scorching! people started winging, oh my goodness I’m sweating!!
The first reaction of “aliens” like me in front of such complains is usually “are you kidding?” It’s been raining for a month. 25C isn’t scorching, it isn’t even remotely near to hot. 25C degrees is just about pleasant, it’s what allows you to leave home, for a change, without looking like an onion – covered in layers of clothes that you’ll have to peel off only in order to put them back after five minutes. 25C during the day still means night temperatures of around 13C. Not exactly “sitting outdoors” conditions. At 13C people in “normal” countries wear coats and hats!
But the best thing happens on the Tube. Come late May, at every station loudspeakers start broadcasting the message “in this hot weather always carry a bottle of water with you when travelling on the London underground.” I want to suspect Travel for London is rehearsing a comedy show as I can’t imagine anyone dying for lack of dehydration on a twenty minute journey on the Tube. You must always carry a bottle of water if you’re crossing the Sahara, if you visit the Death Valley, if you’re on a boat in the middle of the sea. But on the Tube??? Are they serious???
The only result of such panicked messages is to install in the British minds the absurd idea that hot (or what they think is hot, ie 25 degrees) is bad. Hot is dangerous. Hot is only to be enjoyed in very small doses or when on holiday abroad…
Result, after three sunny days Britons starts missing the rain. They do. I swear. They truly truly do.
“Oh, but it’s so boring having hot weather for months,” they say, “isn’t it?” No it isn’t. It’s called SEASONS. Spring is warm, summer is hot, autumn is mild and winter is cold.
“Miserable weather produces great arts, culture and literature!”
Hmmm… Can I kindly remind you civilization started in Greece? Where temperatures all through summer stay well over 33C??? And how about the Renaissance? Florence isn’t exactly renowned for its rain. How about French and Spanish poetry and novels and arts? You’re not making any sense! You’re a country of miserable sods who enjoy their misery!
Anyway, four days later of course the sun goes away again and the rain comes back. The weather man, looking particularly pleased, says “finally we can enjoy some fresher nights” (FRESHER? It’s so bloody freezing I need the heating on) “and rain is very good news for our gardens!”
Oh, the gardens, of course. Nothing is more important than gardens in life, isn’t it. You might need to drink yourself unconscious to relieve your misery but God forbid your dahlias should suffer!
Honestly, I think there’s something profoundly wrong with this country, which explains its problems, its general unhappiness, its violence and its ridiculous levels of alcoholism. People who can’t enjoy the sun, who can’t enjoy the warmth, who can’t enjoy what such things do to your body (apart from making you sweat), can’t enjoy life. Summer is a celebration if life at its peak. People strip off their clothes, let themselves be more in contact with nature, stop hiding. They stay out until later hours because there’s more light, they socialize, eat together, talk together. In “normal” countries summer is the time to sit outside our house in the evening and talk to your neighbours until the early hours. Of leaving work behind. Of eating lighter food and have ice creams.
Summer is sensual, intense, passionate. All adjectives unknown to the British psyche.
Because the British can’t appreciate such things, because they’re attracted to them but scared of them, because they can’t produce endorphins in a natural way, they need artificial enhancement to avoid getting suicidal. So they drink. Alcohol is their substitute for sunny days. Alcohol is what makes them intense, chatty and inhibited. They drink and drink and they can’t see that all they need is to start enjoy life starting from right in front of them: the elements. So even when they do have the opportunity of grabbing “natural enjoyment”, they refuse it. They start moaning that it’s too hot.
Yes I know, now you’re all wondering why the hell I’m still in London if I resent the British so much. Well, number one, London is full of non-British, which is what makes it a great city. Two, there’s only one thing that sunny countries have been unable to produce, at least in the last 2000 years: great theatre. Yes, I’m in London for the theatre. Theatre has undeniably proved itself to be the greatest love of my life… Some people move abroad to follow their love… I did it for mine.
Which is why I’m really looking forward to the invention of a time machine. Then I’ll travel back to ancient Greece, where, they had it all: theatre, arts, literature, philosophy. And all of this open air.
Now, wouldn’t that be swell!