With headlines declaring Storm Ernesto’s imminent arrival and a recent plunge into the depths of autumn (when did the mornings get so cold?) marking the official end of London’s heatwave, it looks as though we’re set to surrender summer for this year already. But why wallow in the pain of quickly diminishing daylight (yes, the sun is now setting before 9pm…)? Instead, let’s remind ourselves of everything we hated about those soaring temperatures anyway – we’re Londoners after all.
- Surviving the commute with a perennially sweaty upper lip
And no, we’re not joking. BBC weather presenter John Hammond took to the tube with a thermometer mid-July (that’s dedication) to record a sickening 39 degrees on a Piccadilly line train – and that didn’t even compare to the 40+ registered on the Central line. Ouch. Compare that to Japan’s super sweet air-conditioned platforms and our fair capital looks pretty prehistoric, right? On the plus side, the majority of train carriages were left startlingly empty as passengers all jostled to gain a spot around the tiny windows at the either end instead. Air! Dear God, give us air.
- Sunglasses. Underground.
Speaking of the underground, a peculiar breed of passenger has taken to donning their sunglasses deep into the depths of the tube, keeping those knock-off Ray Bans perched firmly on the bridge of their nose despite having no access to direct sunlight. Maybe it’s to avoid retina-related injuries induced by the fluorescents? Who knows. But we hate it.
- Fighting through throngs of tourists on the tube (heatwave edition)
Ok, so swerving through a slalom of tourists as they each wrestle a suitcase along a packed peak-time platform is frustrating (read: mind-numbing) at the best of times, but add to that the fact that everyone on said platform is sweaty, irritable and in need or fresh air, and the whole thing escalates to sheer rage-inducing territory. Watch as a patch of sweat grows on the back of some man’s “I ❤️ London” T-shirt while he lugs luggage the size of an Irish Wolfhound up three flights of stairs, and you’ll feel as though you’re a spectator at the Olympics. Err…enjoy your holiday, mate.
- Surviving the escalators in maxi skirts
Yes, our newly diaphanous layers offered ventilation in all the right places, but try scaling the escalators in a floor-sweeping skirt and you’ll realise that your favourite floral maxi is, in fact, in pretty serious breach of Britain’s Health & Safety laws (well, we guess, anyway). Cue holding the hemline of your new summer outfit up around your knees as you carefully mount the moving staircase, trying desperately to avoid getting it stuck in those menacing-looking bristles on either side. Oh yeah – and don’t even get us started on flip-flops.
- A complete lack of sleep
Duvet? No. Sheets? No. Pyjamas? Nah, probably none of those either. Attempting to sleep throughout the heatwave proved to be a task so impossible it resulted in John Lewis declaring a 315% increase in sales of electronic cooling devices, and Argos and Wilko declaring a near state of emergency with their ever-dwindling selection of fans. Ok, slight exaggeration, but they had limited stock left, ok?! The only time we’ve willingly slept with every window of our house lying wide open, the return of the colder weather means one thing at least; a decent night’s kip. Hallelujah.
- The daily discovery of sunburn (in places you didn’t even think possible)
Whether you suffered sunburn yourself or were enlisted to apply bottles of Aloe Vera to a loved one’s peeling shoulder blades (shudder), it was impossible to walk down a single street in London during the heatwave without catching a glimpse of some poor person’s painfully reddened limbs. Despite the Met Office issuing frequent health care alerts throughout July and researchers at King’s College providing instructions on how to actually apply sun cream properly (SPF50, guys), a YouGov poll found that almost a quarter of Britons don’t bother wearing any at all – with record numbers of hospitalisations registered over the summer. Not clever.
- Weekends spent crushed onto overcrowded beaches
It’s summer, it’s Saturday, and it’s bloody hot. So? ‘Let’s go to Brighton’ – yeah, said literally every single person in London, ever. Heading to the beach – any beach – during the heatwave was akin to queuing for a McDonalds outside King’s Cross station at 4am on a Friday: busy, full of drunk people, and showcasing a complete disregard for any kind of social etiquette. Yeah man, perch your reclining deckchair three inches from a stranger’s head. Seems like a great idea. Nah, just leave the grease-soaked wrapper of your fish and chips lying on the sand, we’re sure the seagulls will take care of that anyway. Want to use that kid’s bucket as a cooler for your beer? She probably wasn’t using it anyway…