If you live in Britain you get used to people complaining about the weather with its frequent rain, winds, snow and sleet. So when the sun shines, we should all be happy, right? Right! Except we’re now experiencing a heat wave, which brings problems of its own.
After a hot, dry June, when temperatures in several places hit 30C and over, the forecasters say we can expect four more weeks with mercury levels in the high 20s. On one day last week, the temperature in Newcastle upon Tyne in the north of England was higher than in Nairobi.
There is concern over water levels in rivers and reservoirs and several councils have banned the use of hosepipes. Authorities suggest we should spend no longer than four minutes in the shower and use rainwater for our gardens.
Tarmac on roads in Wales melted in the sun last week, just months after the same roads were closed due to heavy snow, while in Carlisle, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Devon, railway bosses imposed speed limits after some steel rails expanded and buckled.
Fire trucks were called out to beat back moorland blazes in Lancashire and Yorkshire. Two separate conflagrations near Bolton joined up when high winds fanned the flames. Officials asked the public not to fly drones over the area because they interfered with efforts to fight the fires by helicopter.
Wildlife has been suffering and Mr Jon Traill of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust said birds, squirrels and hedgehogs would all be desperate for a drink. “Even if you don’t have a big garden, put out a bowl or saucer of water,” he said.
Appetites change according to the weather and growers warned of a shortage of lettuces because more people were eating light salads. A record 18 million lettuces were sold in one week, about 40 per cent more than the same week last year.
Bouts of hot weather are often accompanied by heavy downpours and the southwest of England and south Wales experienced short-lived but fierce storms.
* * *
Students are not known for getting up early, so there was consternation when the elite Durham University announced that some lectures would start at 8am, an hour earlier than usual.
Business and law undergraduates will be the victims of plans to expand the university to cater for increasing numbers.
Professor Alan Houston said, “This arrangement will be for one year only until our new teaching and learning centre opens.”
Students’ Union president Megan Croll responded, “It seems the university is more concerned about tuition fees than the student experience.”
* * * *
After a years-long hunt through Britain, Spain and Switzerland, police have arrested one of the UK’s most wanted fugitives.
An announcement said that Mark Acklom was tracked down to a luxury apartment in Zurich and was held for extradition.
Carolyn Woods claims that Acklom posed as an MI6 agent and a Swiss banker and conned her into “lending” him her life savings of £850,000 during a year-long romance. Then in 2012 he disappeared.
In 2016, he was named among 10 British fugitives as “Most Wanted” in Spain.
Detective Inspector Adam Bunting said, “Acklom thought he could continue to evade capture by moving around Europe but we were determined to locate him and bring him back to this country.”
When he appears in court in England, he will face 20 charges of fraud.
* * * *
Figures from the Office for National Statistics reveal that the number of men who stay at home and look after their children has nearly doubled in the past 24 years.
From 123,000 men in 1993, the figure rose to 242,000 at the end of 2017. A third of the stay-at-home dads said they wanted a job, but a spokesman for the Fathers Institute said, “We still make assumptions about mothers being more natural at caregiving… our goal should be more about every family having choices about who does what.
“Some families may want to split the earning and caring fifty-fifty, and others might prefer to have one parent doing more of one than the other.”
* * * *
It’s been so hot that… chickens are laying hard-boiled eggs, we’re eating red-hot chillies to cool our mouths off and hot water comes out of both taps.
At the wedding reception, the 60-year-old multimillionaire was asked how he snared his beautiful bride of 23. “I faked my age,” he said. “I told her I was 87.”
When a man told his friends that his credit card was stolen but he hadn’t reported it, they wanted to know why. “Whoever the thief is,” he said, “he spends less than my wife”.
Marriage is an institution of three rings: Engagement ring, wedding ring and suffering.