This week, melting infrastructure proved Britain can’t cope with 40C summers. But this is the future that could await us
Since Monday, Britain has felt like a sun-bloated packet of supermarket pasta salad: sweating and smelly, abandoned at the bottom of a dog-waste bin, by turns greasy, hot, unpleasant, swollen and revolting. I have seen topless men resting beaded armpits on bus poles, teenagers dipping their feet in bright-green canals that are so choked with weed they seem hardly wet, parks turned to hay, parents wiping screaming and heat-exhausted children with flannels outside long queues for swimming pools, and car parks littered with ice-cube bags and fizzy drink cans. I have smelled other people’s arse cracks and seen carrier bags of used cat litter create a fiesta of bluebottles around our communal bins. I have left imprints on other people’s furniture.
In the words of my mother – who lived through the 1976 heatwave with my newborn sister – “It’s pretty hard to deny climate change in this.” But, my friends, if this week has taught us anything at all – other than that strange, slippery, silvery feel of under-breast condensation – it is that Britain is not ready to live at 38C; we are ill-prepared for our changing climate.
I walked past a group of men laying tarmac in full-length, high-vis worksuits. Each looked like they were about to die