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The Heatwave

What If the Heatwave Is Just How We Live Now?

Insects, boob sweat, catcalling: all just part of our routines now. Everything's fine!

by Lauren O'Neill
Jul 6 2018, 1:35pm

All images by Jake Lewis

Heatwaves in the UK always happen the same way. The tabloids, like nans who can sense when someone’s about to die, seem to always know before anybody else that something is coming, heeding a “30 DEGREE SCORCHER” (sub-head: “June better believe it!”) from the shelves of your nearest corner shop about a fortnight in advance. The following week, someone mentions it while you’re waiting for the coffee machine in work: “Going to be nice soon apparently,” they always say, and in response, you always go “Bloody hope so!” and then you both laugh and hate yourselves. You check the weather app on your phone a few times, willing it to come. And then, one day, like literally nothing else you have ever wished for in your life, it actually happens. It’s hot.

For most of the year, the UK is a dreary, ugly little place, but in the sun it glistens. Everything is beautiful (the literal heat-induced bin fire I saw the other day: beautiful!); your walk to work, suddenly, is a real life enactment of “Girls and Boys” by Blur, because apparently overnight everyone has become mouth-frothingly fit, in their sunglasses and linen shirts, with their legs and their hair (“Summer,” I have been telling everyone solemnly and oracle-like, “is the horniest month.”) Immediately, “heatwave” becomes a catch-all reason for justifying whatever you want to do: beer at lunchtime? Heatwave. Ice cream for dinner? Yeah mate, heatwave. Ringing in sick to work to sit topless in your shared garden eating burgers you’ve poked about on a £2 disposable BBQ? Sorry, you mustn’t have heard me correctly: H E A T W A V E.

We behave in this way because we are, fundamentally, not used to hot weather here in the UK, and we know that it usually does not last long. For this reason, we seem beholden to a collective belief that if each of us – personally, individually – does not use the heat for MAXIMUM FUN, we will somehow seem ungrateful to the benevolent sunshine and it will go in a mood with us, never to return. So we get dangerously dehydrated and contract heatstroke and burn our shoulders because we want the sun, our unreliable boyfriend, to know that we care, and because we are scared that it will leave us and we’ll just end up back where we always are: sending the landlord emails with subject lines like “CENTRAL HEATING: URGENT”

This, generally, is the cycle of things. But… have you thought about, like, right now? We’re currently experiencing a heatwave, and we’ve been experiencing a heatwave for a while, and it kind of seems like it’s not letting up anytime soon. Sun-induced hedonism is no longer sustainable – now that the novelty of ordering three buckets of Coronas on a Wednesday night or having a Feast during the work day has subsided a bit, I am forced to ask: are we just “warm” now? Is “covered in a really just unrelenting film of sweat” how we exist now? Other countries manage it, of course, but the UK is a special nation full of borderline alcoholics and chronic complainers, so for us this is much more difficult. What is the reality now that the heatwave isn’t a heatwave, and – thank you global warming – is just the normal weather?

Obviously I’ve thought about this extremely inconsequential thing quite a lot. Because I’ve written a list about it!

SWEAT

I’ve accepted it. I have looked at myself, ashen, in the mirror of contemplation, and I have said aloud: The area under my tits will never be dry again. It’s taken me a while to fully come to terms with it, but I am now secure in the knowledge that I am destined, for the rest of my life, for my hand to come away sopping wet every time I absentmindedly itch the bottom of my boob. My boobs aren’t even that big and it is, I really must tell you, like the fucking Amazon under there. This is reality now. I’ve got a sweaty back as well. Follow me: @hiyalauren x

THE INSECTS

Sleeping with one leg out the duvet, huh? All nice and cool, is it? Lovely chilly leg, free of its blanket prison. Be a shame if someone... BIT THE FUCK OUT OF IT AS YOU SLEPT, LITERALLY SUCKING THE BLOOD FROM UNDER YOUR SKIN, wouldn’t it?

Flies, insects, whatever. These are our bedfellows now. I hate all you little bastards. Why you here? Did anyone invite you in? I will batter you pricks.* Heatwave? War-wave, lads.

*scream “fuck off man” and wave my arms a bit until you fly back out of the window.

REALLY DO JUST NEED TO STOP GETTING PISSED

It says a lot about the UK’s collective psyche that as soon as the sun comes out, we are, nationally, on it. Granted, this is exacerbated by the prevalence of the World Cup (because we can’t watch sport without getting wankered either), but if, like me, your first response to the heat is “GET THE TINS IN” – your ears pricking like one of Pavlov’s dogs the instant you hear someone cracking a can open – you are probably, emphatically Feeling It right about now. We can’t sustain it. We’ll be a nation of walking UTIs, our piss the awful colour of tea. Going forward I suggest that we all just have a big water and a sit down.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT

Public transport is the perfect example of how the UK’s infrastructure is not built for hot weather. A bus is essentially an oven on wheels; trains run so infrequently that even if they’re big, there are so many people on board that you’re likely to get a drip of another person’s upper lip sweat in your hair. There aren’t really many ways around this to be honest, so I will instead provide you with this link to purchase a handheld fan. Godspeed.

CLOTHES

There are no appropriate clothes for this weather, sorry. Getting ready to go outside and live life in the heat is a Herculean task: you’re late for work because you spent 30 minutes of your morning digging through the back of your wardrobe to find your one pair of shorts, and then when you do find them you realise they now don’t fit properly. Everything you own becomes completely useless in the heat, and you end up with a mismatched combination of jeans and flip-flops, feeling like your own dad, despite the fact that the sun has made every other person you encounter look like a demigod who has rolled around in a COS.

CATCALLING

Often my pals and I sit around and reminisce about the good old days. We like to remember a time when we could leave the house, trying our best to exist in our normal human bodies, without being yelled at (“Nice legs love”), beeped at from cars, ogled, or whistled at. What a world! It was a different time. Tears fill my eyes when I recall it. These days I’m just trying to balance my physical need to not wear a bra (sweat-incubating flesh cage) and my desire to pass through the world without having some guy lean out of a van telling me he’d give me one, know what I mean?

ANYWAY NONE OF IT MATTERS BECAUSE THE COMBINATION OF THE HEAT, THE FOOTBALL AND LOVE ISLAND IS GOING TO KILL US ALL DEAD

This will be one of those summers that I recall in a few years’ time, memorable because of all of the cultural events that happened: massive heatwave, England winning the World Cup, Jack and Dani emerging victorious over Love Island and also just the concept of love in general, Megan from Love Island becoming Prime Minister. That is, however, if the combination of all of the above does not actually physically murder me first: the other night when England won on penalties directly followed by an episode of Love Island, I felt several of my nerves snap and I basically did not sleep, so powerful was the adrenaline coursing through my veins. I cannot take much more of this, especially not while I am sweating parts of my body clean off. The UK is not a nation which can handle excitement (look what happens every Friday on basically every high street in the land as soon as people have x3 drinks) – this summer might be what finishes us off. Small mercies, tbh.

@hiyalauren

This article originally appeared on VICE UK.