30 degrees all week=love. I swear, nothing has made me happier in recent history. You can really tell where a person hails from when the weather heats up. My accent's faded, my colloquialisms have changed, even my fashion sense has undergone amends to reflect this new life. But last week, when everyone else was sweating their way through each day, I was basking in it, soaking it up, enjoying intensely the feeling of sun on my skin, laughing girlishly at my bright pink limbs. I'm from a warm country, so the sun is both expected and welcome. England is not a warm country, London's not a warm city, so the sun is a surprise every time, and, it would seem, not always a pleasant one.
To be fair, my life is easy to live in the heat. The river gives a gentle breeze, we have an outdoor area (small, kinda crappy, we're not supposed to go out there - but still, it exists) and - the biggie - I can walk to work. No tube for me!
I feel for everyone at mercy of the tube last week. Hot, stifling, unpredictable in the middle of winter, it must be a million times worse in the summer. I've done the tube thing - I've been more intimate with strangers in the middle of the carriage than anyone else, ever, including H1 - and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy (mmmm, actually, don't hold me to that). The ventilation is good when it works, sure. But it only works when the train's moving at speed, and I'm pretty sure that will only happen when hell freezes over. Or, for that matter, when the tube freezes over.
My year of tube commutes made me smart though. There are some easy ways to get through it relatively unscathed. TfL recommends taking a bottle of water and wearing light clothes, which is one way. You can get on at the front or back end of the train and there's about a quarter of the people in the middle (why, by the way? This makes no sense) and that helps.
My failsafe was to just pass out. It's easy for me - I'm a bit of a fainter at the best of times - but I don't think it can be that hard to fake. A gentle sway, roll your eyes round a bit, then slump. Those people crowded all around you, subjecting you to their perspiration and morning breath, will support you, help you, direct you to a seat. Then they will eyeball you warily, terrified you might do it again and they might end up having to speak to a stranger, and you can have anything you want. Drink of water? They will race it to you. More space? Back up, back up, give the fainting freak some room! The muffin peeking out of someone's bag? Well, food might help...
If this is too extreme (I can't understand how it could be, but ok. You probably don't know how bad it is. Or you've forgotten) there is an easy alternative, and that alternative is just not to go in. Just skip the whole shebang altogether. In fact, I'm hoping that it will get so hot we are told to stay at home. This happens, right?
Was planning to actually answer that, but nobody at work has answered my email yet, telling me how hot it needs to be. I'm sure this is just an oversight. It is now redundant anyway, as we are back to the kind of midsummer where you need a woolen cardigan every day. It was lovely while it lasted!