Sunday, 27 June 2010
Summer in London
It is the hottest long vacation known for many years. All the young clerks are madly in love, and according to their various degrees, pine for bliss with the beloved object, at Margate, Ramsgate, or Gravesend. All the middle-aged clerks think their families too large. All the unowned dogs who stray into the Inns of Court and pant about staircases and other dry places seeking water give short howls of aggravation. All the blind men's dogs in the streets draw their masters against pumps or trip them over buckets. A shop with a sun-blind, and a watered pavement, and a bowl of gold and silver fish in the window, is a sanctuary. Temple Bar gets so hot that it is, to the adjacent Strand and Fleet Street, what a heater is in an urn, and keeps them simmering all night.
I am sure that my readers in warmer climes will scoff at this post, but that is merely because they don't understand. London is not designed to be hot. We have no air-conditioning. I own two pairs of shorts and one of those is so little worn that it still has a school name-tape sewn inside.
Nobody has ever thought to put a bench in the shade. The best a Londoner can do is to shelter from the sun under awnings that usually protect him from the rain and hail. It is for this reason that the Bible reads so strangely to an Englishman: heat and sun are curses, rain and shade God's promises. Only on days like this can an Englishman's heart pant for cooling streams.
I am now off to sit in a square in Bloomsbury in direct and perfect imitation of Dickens. I would follow the clerks to Margate, but all I seem to do there is sandily connect nothing with nothing.