Burn baby burn

A four-day British heatwave has drawn to a close. Miraculously, a weekend fell right in the middle of it, enabling the population to make the most of the sun. Spending much of the weekend in assorted London parks I had plenty of opportunity to observe what happens to the British when the sun comes out…

Essentially what occurs is that they (we) lose touch with reality. After all, only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun. Not only do the Brits head outside when the sun is at its strongest, they do so in the skimpiest of clothing and with minimal protection.

First off, let me confess that I’ve been guilty on both counts. I forgot the sun-cream on Saturday (but after purchasing more on Sunday I have carefully re-applied it diligently) and did wear a vest-top under my t-shirt yesterday so that I could avoid a tan-line over lunch in the park. [I’m slightly ashamed of doing this second thing as not quite two years ago I criticised others for similar actions.]

But, why do we seem to think that the British sun can’t damage us? Sure, we don’t see much of it and are probably severely deficient in Vitamin D, but risking skin cancer? Foolish. Don’t people realise that in most hot climates people cover up in the sun in order to protect themselves? True, on Sunday I had practically bare shoulders, but I was evening out the exposed flesh-ness by carrying off the maxi-dress thing – meaning my legs were covered and (most genius aspect) could sit cross-legged in a graceful fashion. But you should have seen some of the poor lobsters in the congregation at church that evening!

Also, can I make a plea – bring back hats! Once upon a time, the British were famous for their hats and summer meant Panama time. Now everyone simply gets overheated and burnt. (I have currently have a very sensitive patch of skin where my hair parting is.) Personally, I’d love a big floppy straw creation, 1930s style. Then I could go punting with a charming gentleman wearing a Panama and carry a parasol. (Actually, before I get carried away with this fantasy, presumably if one is wearing a hat one doesn’t also need a parasol?)

As it’ll be at least a week until the weather scorches up again, you’ll have time to read the Guardian’s guide to dressing for the heat. I would like to point out that as I started writing this post last night, I thought of the maxi dress, parasol and hat comments before its author did – it’s just that (yet again) my thoughts ran along the same lines as their writers. Honestly, they should just employ me and be done with it…

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