If you are somewhere that is not England right now, perhaps in an igloo or a submarine or even another country, then you are likely to be unaware that London and its surrounding area (“England”) is in the sweaty death-grip of a heatwave right now. It’s been a week. Maybe more. It’s been long enough for people who are only comfortable when every part of their body is covered by a cardigan to panic.
According to the news it is TOO HOT TO WORK but they put a question mark after the headline – TOO HOT TO WORK? – so as not to be the ones to encourage you to stay home and drain the economy while looking at other English people and their teeth on Jeremy Kyle. But if you did, hypothetically, choose to stay home instead of venture out onto the surface of the hot planet the news tells you to DRAW YOUR CURTAINS, WEAR FEWER CLOTHES, and DRINK WATER FOR THE LOVE OF GOD KEEP HYDRATED DON’T DIE OR PUT STRAIN ON THE NHS. People are actually off sick with heat-stroke despite the question mark in that headline. People are literally dying on their sweaty, sweaty asses. The newspapers are telling us we need to put our pillows in the fridge before bedtime and haul our mattresses into our gardens if at all possible. The fans have sold out all over the city. The restocks cannot come fast enough.
According to a concerned man in a suit we are at “orange” – just one alert level below “red”, a national emergency which I and my fellow nerd compatriots read as code for “a Charlton Heston movie scenario”.
To which I say: Bitch, please.
32 degrees (Celsius, Americans, we do Celsius) is in the grand scheme of worldly stuff not that hot. But because you, The News, won’t shut up about it and how we are going to die, collapsed and sweaty in our half-constructed backyard paddling pool, I think I should impart some wisdom. The wisdom collected by a person who spent 20 years in the tropical part of Australia before deciding that it’s not actually supposed to contain humans in it and moved to London instead. (Hello.)
A Failed Australian’s Guide To Dealing With This Goddamn Heat
Step One: Take your jeans off. I say this as a person who was a chubby teenage goth and refused to. I know both sides of this ridiculous argument and I know what it’s like in those jeans. Take those jeans off.
Instead of jeans I offer you some sartorial advice straight out of ‘90s Queensland:
Wear a huge maxi-skirt but pull it way up to under your armpits thus making “a dress”. This is the airy fashion of mums picking their kids up from school circa 1992. If the mum is a short mum this is fine, if the mum is a tall one you’re going to see a whole lot of ass. Know this, make your decision accordingly. Pair with thongs. (Read: “flip-flops”.)
NB. The skirt doesn’t have to go all the way up to the armpits – “above the nipple” is generally fine. If you have exceptionally saggy ones (known in Australia as “’rangas”, ie. The breasts of a female orangutan) then you can leave your skirt as it is and just tuck them in the waistband.
Wear a backless dress that has your bra hanging way out the back if you can be bothered to strap your tits into something, if not: let them swing (although you might end up with ‘rangas, see above). If you truly want to go Australian about this – by “Australian” I mean “specifically Queensland” – tuck the long skirt into your undies at the sides. “Why not just buy a short skirt?” I don’t know man, ask someone in Queensland with their long dress tucked into their undies. I’m just telling you what I know.
Most importantly: Blind everybody in Soho with your lime green calves like I did two days running and just calm the fuck down. I saw a man in some orange hotpants and they were terrible and near pornographic. He had half a bollock poking out the left leg-hole, and looked an absolute douchebag in his straw hat. But he had a Twister ice cream and he did not care. (In 90s Queensland we would swap “Twister ice cream” for “a Golden Gaytime”.)
Step Two: If you’re squinting at this on an iPhone in a park, get out of the park.
Don’t be so English. It is The Sun – that great big burning thing in the sky – that makes you feel hot, so why are you sitting right in it. When it (the burning sun) makes an unlikely appearance it is not actually a law that you have to get immediately, grossly naked and lie in it like a suicidal whale. You don’t have to be that pantsless woman on Clapham Common who flashes the Full English to everyone who passes sweatily by. We live in an era of choice. I know you don’t see it (the burning sun) all that often and in February you flirt with the idea of killing yourself it’s so dark, BUT. Take it from someone who grew up right beneath the hole in the Ozone layer: that shit is evil. Ask the moles of anyone.
(In Queensland – again, Queensland, the backward 1980s bit on the right-hand side of the map where there are nice beaches and countless things in those beaches that eat you or sting you or generally do not want you there – our main political dude in the 2000s gave pretty much every major speech of his career with white bandages all over his face thanks to various pieces of him having to be hacked out because he’s a pale-ass man living in on the surface of the sun. He became the worst kind of thing you can become: A Cautionary Tale For Australian Mums To Use Every Day While Applying Suncream.)
Related: If you lie naked and oiled up in Australia we will be able to tell that you are a time-traveller from the 1970s or “just English” from miles away. English people in Australia turn a special kind of non-standard-Crayola red that you never see on anyone who actually lives there. It’s a bit like how you can tell an Australian in England because of the haircuts.
Step Three: Don’t be a goddamn drama queen (or, a “prima donna” as my mum would say, which I always thought was “the thing that Madonna was before she was Madonna”) (“a hairy dancer”).
YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IT’S LIKE WHEN IT ACTUALLY GETS HOT. In Australia they start thinking about maybe closing the schools for the day if it looks like it’s going to get to 40 degrees. Even at 38 you’re still not allowed to unbutton any buttons on your purely polyester school uniform and they can prematurely arrest you Minority Report-style if you look like the kind of person who might think briefly about maybe possibly loosening your tie hideous polyester tie. I keep saying polyester in order for you to understand the sweat that is happening on any given student within any given Australian school and thus perhaps also, by extrapolation, you might also understand the general olfactory situation of any PE class therein.
If it does get to 40 degrees, which tends to happen around Christmas Day/Boxing Day or The Entirety of February, Australian people do not flock to the park (see Step Two). Australian people get in their huge air-conditioned cars and go to the movies. When they get to the movies they find that the air-conditioner there has packed up and died and the whole place smells of other peoples’ armpits and death. So they get back in their cars and drive around in the air-conditioning for ten hours until it gets dark and they go home, where they find that the candles have melted in their holders and leaned against the wall. They eat ice cubes for dinner and go to bed naked and drunk on terrible Australian beer. Fans blow away the armpit miasma and the cat sleeps looped around the toilet bowl.
~ fin ~
P.S. I wrote this in my underpants.