Tag Archives: heatwave

Don’t stop me now

It’s good to be back in New York, although the sweltering heat and humid atmosphere means that I have as much desire to be outside as an agoraphobic slug who has been told that the only way for him to get back inside his garden shed is to slither through an industrial-size outdoor salt store.

The heat does nothing for people’s temper as they make their way around the city. Simple missions such as walking up the stairs from the subway to the exit are turned into Indiana Jones-style fights to the finish, as sweat-soaked crazies kick and punch their way to the top. And that’s just the women.

Earlier today, I saw a cyclist who had clearly determined that the worst possible thing that he could do in this weather would be to stand still. Of course, given the number of pedestrians and traffic lights in the city, that’s pretty much an impossible task. Not unless you take your life into your own hands.

Or in this case, take a whistle into your mouth.

Paying no particular heed for traffic lights, and a healthy disregard for the public, this cyclist simply put a small silver whistle between his lips, blasted out as shrill a note as he could possibly manage, and trusted in his ability to put the pedal to the metal to do the rest. I watched him for about a block and a half as he peeped and parped his way across the city at high speed to avoid slowing down, unsuspecting pedestrians scattering in his path as he frightened the living bejeesus out of anyone within a twenty yard radius.

And you wonder why some people accuse New Yorkers of impatience?

Unless I’m doing him a disservice. Perhaps he had a medical emergency, or he’d realised that he’d left the oven on? Or maybe he had Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves in his panniers, and he was having to keep up a constant 50mph for fear of untold damage to his spokes and handlebars?

With New York, you just never know.

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.