Having recently experienced somewhat of a heatwave here in the UK – nothing like what our friends across the channel have been enjoyed or suffered, I remembered a couple of books I read a few years ago about the hot summer of 1976, when a sunny dry period went on for weeks and weeks. This is what I wrote while reading them:
We haven’t got a heatwave today although it is a lovely, lovely day! It’s so warm that I’m wearing shorts! Who knows how long this will last but it seems right for me to start reading the next book for book club which is ‘Instructions For A Heatwave’ by Maggie O’Farrell, followed in the next month ‘The Trouble With Goats and Sheep’ by Joanna Cannon. Both these books are set in the summer of 1976 when there was a heatwave here in Britain.
It was really, really, really, hot… Wikipedia says:
In the Central England Temperature series, 1976 has the hottest summer for more than 350 years and probably for much longer. The average temperature over the whole summer (June, July, August) was 17.77 °C, compared to the average for the unusually warm years between 2001–2008 of 16.30 °C. There have in other years been hotter specific summer months, though.The summer was so hot that it is embedded in the national psyche, with subsequent heatwaves in 1995, 1997, 2001, 2003 and 2006 all using 1976 as a benchmark.
So if 2006 was the last really hot summer, maybe eleven years on we’re due for another! I was away in France with friends during that summer, but as we returned at the end of August, I remember hearing a new broadcast, warning people not to go beneath large trees as many of them were dropping their branches because of the heat. When I got home to Weston-super-Mare, my family told me the town had been plagued with ladybirds; there was such a thick carpet of the insects that you couldn’t help but tread on them, and any washing put out on the line was covered with them. Some of them bit and stung people too! The British Entomological and Natural History Society apparently estimated that by late July 23.65 billion of them swarmed across the southern and eastern coasts of England!
I remember 1976 too as the year I wrote my first ‘proper’ novel; it was pretty dire, but there were a few ideas which I might one day take up and write about again… but maybe not…