Summertime in London is strange. After an extremely long and unforgiving winter, residents go crazy as soon as the sun emerges and the weather jumps above 15 degrees. Shirts (and sometimes underwear) come off as those who inexplicably have time to do so during a working day sunbake in Regent’s Park. Those of us less (or more?) fortunate to have jobs spend lunch breaks in the sun, trying not to vomit up our sushi after having witnessed someone (who probably should) get too excited to keep their clothes on.
As the temperature creeps up and summer really hits, London experiences a bit of a meltdown. People cram on to hot trains despite the fact that they will be covered in others’ sweat (please, just wait for the next train coming in four minutes). Some tube lines stop running because the rails are too hot (they also stop working when it’s too cold) causing mass congestion amongst already frustrated commuters. The air-conditioning in our office is incapable of cooling beyond 27 degrees and the facilities staffer who is ego-tripping on controlling the temperature refuses to flick the switch from heating to cooling for far too many weeks. The lifts in my office building are not air-conditioned and neither are the lobbies or stairwells; after having braved the commute on the sweltering train, all I want is to be enveloped by a wave of freezing air as I pass through the revolving doors.
The strangest thing is that no matter how hot and unbearable the weather is my colleagues insist on spending our lunch breaks, not just in the park, but in the direct sunlight. Whilst complaining about the heat, they crawl towards the sun like addicts who have been deprived of their fix. To some extent this is true; even the NHS advises us to take vitamin D supplements during the winter months.
As you can probably ascertain from my rant, I have not coped very well with the London heat (funny; previous to living here, the words “London” and “heat” seemed antonymous). I have been sheltering inside for the past few months or at the very most, containing my outdoor activities to reading under a shady tree. My colleagues think that I’m the worst Australian ever, probably having assumed that I’d be one of those in the park with my top off. They have quickly learned that the opposite is true. After all, the heat is one of the reasons I fled Brisbane!
Despite that in a few months I will be watching the sun rise after my second meeting of the work day and commuting home in the pitch black evening, for now I am welcoming Autumn with open arms.