Climbing into the car like stepping into a sauna. The dashboard thermometer reads 42°c. The car has been parked in the shade with all the windows open. I start the motor, close the windows and slam on the aircon full blast. It takes a while to kick in, and when it does, it blows a strong and chill wind. Too cold. I’ll just drive along with the windows down. Heading out for petrol. The huge digital thermometer at the petrol station registers 38°c. Too hot to move. even filling up is an effort.Who in heir right mind would do any sport in this heat. As I stand sweltering on the petrol station forecourt, two joggers run past – two fat guys in lycra shorts and whit T shirts, coiffed with baseball caps. Burned red by the sun, wheezing like asthmatics, the sweat is dropping off them and I wonder how long it wil be before they too are dropping (dead). For heaven’s sake, we’ve been bombarded with good hot weather advice; stay inside, drink plenty but above all AVOID EXTREME OR UNECESSARY PHYSICAL EFFORT.
Temperatures in the high 30 degrees centigrade – not sure how much that is in farenheit. As a kid at primary school, we were toaught a kind of rough and reay conversion method for celsius into farenheit – double the celsius figure and then add thirty – so today we are sweltering in temperatures of 106°f – so you can reckon that it’s over 10°f out there. Al the more reason to fil up the car and then cruise around with the air conditioning on – there are people who do this.
High temperatures, but not a heatwave, though when the mercury hits above 30°c, the French immediately think back to the great heatwave of 2003. From late July and through August, daily temperatures in excess of 38°c, with some mid august daily temperatutes in the low 40s. Weeks of windless, suffocating heat. old people were dropping like flies. As many as 15,000 elderly people pegged out in the heat. There were so many deaths that the nation’s morgues were overflowing and unable to cope. Drastic but contraversial measures were taken. In the great Parisian fresh food matket at Rungis, the nation’s health authorities used the market’s giant food freezers to stockpile bodies. In some towns, the local authoroities comandered refrigerated or reefer trucks when the local morgue had no more room. People headed for the cost in droves to get away from the heat – most popular was the Atlantic coast and in particular Britanny. So as not to get caught out again, lots if people booked their 2004 holiday in Britanny to get away from a future heatwave. As I remember, summer 2004 was a pretty lousy one in weather terms. Certainly no heat wave.
A trip down my local DIY (hardware store) this morning in search of paint – large notice in the entrance announces that they have sold out of air con units and even electrical fans. In the supermarket, stocks of bottled water are way down and there is a big space on the shelf once occupied by water sprays. Next consigment will arrive on Tuesday of next week. In the wine section, there is a savvy marketing move by the manager. He’s wheeled in a wouple of big fridges and filled them with Rosé wine. Nothing like a chilled rosé to ward off the summer heat. Just as fast as the staff fill up the fridges, the punters empty them – ths stuff is barely chilled, but this doesn’t stop the manager, slapping and extra 50 Euro centimes on the Rosé on the pretext that it is «chilled.» Any excuse to make money I suppose.
And we’re all complaining about the hot weather just as last week we were complaining about the unseasonable cold and rainy spell. It seemed like summer was never coming and now it is here wih a vengance. Don’t bother planning a weekend BBQ though. Big weekend storm warnings have been issued and temperatures are going to plummet by around 10°c – something else to complain about. No matter, that’s a normal summer round here.
Just a parting thought – will my two jogger friends be out pounding the pavement during the forthcoming storms?