Summer in the city

If you want to engage in small talk with a Brit, there’s only one thing you’ll definitely need to chat about – the weather. Whether it’s complaining about the rain, or talking about snow coming late this year, the British would be at a loss for words if it wasn’t for the weather. I’ve filled more embarrassing silences with chat about forthcoming snow or sleet than Madison Square Garden vendors have filled bread rolls with Hebrew National hotdogs.

And let’s face it, Britain has so much weather going on that it’s not like people are short of conversation. The only thing that makes the British happier than some unseasonal early summer sun is talking about the unseasonal early summer sun (and how it’s likely to be the only sun they get all summer). The UK is probably the only country in the world that looks forward to forty days and forty nights of rain, just because it gives us something concrete to complain about.

With all that in mind, the British in New York are in their element right now, with stifling 99F degree heat (37C degrees in real money) bringing the city to its (sweaty and blotchy) knees. Walking out of air-conditioned buildings into the open-air is like walking through one of those heat curtains that greet you as you enter Boots the Chemist, except for the fact that the curtain covers the city (and it’s the delicate but unmistakable tones of body odour that lurk behind it, rather than the intoxicating sandalwood with herbacious topnotes aroma of Dior’s latest fragrance).

Yesterday afternoon I stepped out of the office to send a Father’s Day card to Brit Out Of Water Sr from the post office literally across the road. I probably took less than 100 paces, and was away from an air-conditioned environment for no more than three minutes. Nonetheless, I returned to my desk resembling an about-to-be-committed gibbering idiot who had decided to pay a visit to a local water park while wearing full office clothing.

I’d like to say that I was glowing rather than sweating. In reality I was probably lucky to get away without causing an electrical fire when I sat back down at my keyboard. If the next fifty on the 200 Things You Simply Have To Know About New York list is delayed, don’t blame me.

I’ll be out looking for a waterproofed computer.

23 thoughts on “Summer in the city

  1. Cocktails

    Dylan, 37 degrees is proper weather!

    Having said that, I am the kind of person who is stll amused by British weather bulletins that enthusiastically report that things are ‘brightening up’. I had never ever heard that expression in regards to weather till I moved here…

  2. Lillie

    Silly question, but why did you post your Father’s Day card so early? From Chicago, when I post to the UK, it generally takes 4 days – sometimes 3.

    Just wondering ….

    By the way, it’s pretty impressive considering you are a man.


  3. Alasdair

    My, my – it seems we *are* distracted, Dylan …

    In New York, they don’t have “body odour”, they have “body odour”


  4. Alasdair

    Hmmm … it seems I got the strike-out HTML for the “u” in the second example coded incorrectly … sorta messes with the effectiveness of the witty comment, dunnit just ?

    (mutter, grumble, no preview blog, grumble, mutter)

  5. Nat

    It’s about 10 degrees cooler in London right now (only a unseasonal 27 degrees yesterday). That hasn’t stopped the weather types telling us about the ‘heat wave’ and also noting that it will only last until Thursday before it rains all weekend (again).

    If we Brits couldn’t talk about the weather it would be very quiet over here!

  6. Lin

    I know L.A. is just perched perfectly for criticism, BUT…the weather here…I’m telling you it is hard to beat it. After growing up in Washington, DC and spending loads of time in the UK, the lack of humidity in the SW just rocks my boat. My son is in Brooklyn and had me roaring with laughter over his attempt to buy a window AC unit at Lowe’s last night, getting it into the cab only to have the cabbie ask him if he had a 220v outlet at home because that was one huge unit. (he returned it)

    Good luck with the heat and the fragrance of the city.

  7. Dylan

    Cocktails – found your comment lurking in my spam…have now extracted you and you shouldn’t have the same problem again! Although if you start telling me that 37 degrees is proper weather, you may well find yourself back in there!

    Lillie – it’s only four postal days until Fathers Day, so I don’t think I was that excessive! Although – and I’m sure Brit Out Of Water Sr will confirm this when/if he sees this thread – I do have a smallish reputation for missing Fathers Day/birthdays etc, so getting in early is the best way to ensure that I don’t get in deep mire this year…

    Alasdair – thanks for making me laugh. I promise that at some point (ie as soon as I understand html code enough to do it) I’ll put an edit facility on comments!

    Simon – quite a story. Makes me glad to be a happily married man.

    Nat – back in London I would have been complaining vociferously about 27 degrees. Now I dream of it…

    And Lin – thanks for the unwitting tip-off! I’ll have to make sure our soon-to-be-acquired units are low voltage (you’ve just saved me a lot of time and hassle!)

  8. Brooklyn

    Dylan, be careful about thinking low voltage is the default way to go if you don’t know for sure.

    Some NYC apartments have special 220v sockets under windows specifically to accomodate ac units, and the room may need the power of a 220v unit.

    Also, I’m sure, but I think that while a 120 unit may not work in a 220v socket, my guess is that you may wreck a 120v unit if you plug it into a 220v socket.

  9. Brooklyn

    Please give us edit.

    In the last paragragh, I meant to say “I’m NOT sure . . . “

  10. Dylan

    Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings, Lillie, but it’s actually this Sunday (15th) in both the UK and US…

    And Brooklyn, don’t worry I’m aware of the 220 vs 115/120 issue…I think we’ve only got one 220v socket, and that’s currently air-conditioning its merry little heart out!

  11. Alasdair

    (As a minor linguistic challenge … (grin))

    My three younger daughters and I are going to go a-hunting for cherries on Father’s Day …

    (Remember – to the pure, all things are pure !)

  12. Lillie

    oops…yikes! I’d better run right out to Hallmark….(it’s usually the same weekend as the Highland Games – that’s how I screwed up)

  13. Expat Mum

    Just kidding – couldn’t resist it.
    Actually, here in Chicago, on the lakefront, we walked to my son’s baseball game at 4pm and it was about 90 and very humid. About two thirds of the way through, the wind “came in off the lake” the temp dropped about 25 degrees (farenheit) and we were all freezing in less than 20 seconds.
    It’ll be all over the news tonight.

  14. Brooklyn

    Sorry for underestimating you Dylan.

    But the usual rubric is 120 US, 220 Europe. I don’t think the 220 socket thing is in Baedeker’s.

    Maybe because it is because of the limitations of 120 to power an AC capable of tackling US summer heat, but is the US unique in having different voltage circuits in the same residence?

  15. LolaBloom

    I can’t say that I’d want the heat you’re getting over there but can’t say I’m pleased with our SNOW! Yes, that’s right, snow. Poor me…

  16. Jan

    Oklahomans are as bad as the Brits when it comes to talking about the weather. Probably because it’s always too wet, too dry, too windy, too cold, too hot, too humid, or too something else here.

    And the weather is dangerous, particularly now in tornado season. And we have yet more severe storms forecast for tonight and tomorrow. Here’s hoping I won’t be hiding in the closet later.

  17. Pingback: A Brit Out Of Water » Blog Archive » 200 things you simply have to know about New York (part three)

  18. Dylan

    Brooklyn – it’s actually EXACTLY the kind of mistake I’d make, so it’s always best to check!

    And Lola and Jan, I hope your weather improves very soon (tornados in June I can kind of understand, but snow?!?)…

  19. Brit Out of Water Snr

    It’s a miracle! Hold the front page! Check for flying pigs!
    I’ve just returned from a week in the Newcastle area (The “Howay the Lads” one, not the other place somewhere in Staffordshire that nobody’s ever been to) and to my delight and amazement there was an envelope waiting for me all the way from NYC. Now unless B.O.O.W has taken to sending begging letters in card form, I can only assume that it’s a Father’s Day card. Far be it from me to cast aspersions on my son’s card sending record, but it’s a little coincidental that there’s now a Mrs Brit Out of Water, don’t you think?

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