In case I wasn’t aware we were heading for the hottest day of the year in Wales, a chap in Cardiff’s Thompson Park was rubbing it in.
So distracting was the full horror of his sun-worshipping scene I almost crashed the car. Crotch facing the road, he lay spread-eagled on the grassy bank in a miniscule pair of budgie-smugglers. I haven’t been so disturbed since spotting a large, topless middle-aged woman manoeuvring herself around a picnic rug in Penarth during the last heatwave.
After spending the past three weeks in Australia, where the natives adopt a sensible approach to solar protection and porcelain-skinned Japanese visitors shade their faces with parasols, there couldn’t have been a less subtle reminder I was home.
There is nothing like a Welsh heatwave to bring out the more desperate aspects of the Cymric character. When the mercury rises, we react like troglodytes given their first glimpse of daylight.
Every Mediterranean knows the only way to deal with a sizzling afternoon is take a siesta. Every Taff also knows how to sleep when it’s 30°C-plus – out the back, covered in Factor Lard before incinerating a few bangers on the barbie.
Of course, the sun-starvation of recent months has resulted in an even greater hunger than usual. We have endured the coldest spring in more than five decades while last year was the second wettest on record. This meteorological context may explain why even Derek the Weather has admitted to broadcasting in his pants this week.
As the sun rises on the hottest day of the year today, brace yourselves for more heat-induced mayhem and a complete sartorial meltdown. The Met Office has issued a Level Two weather warning, alerting us to the dangers of heat-stroke, dehydration and severe sunburn. I give you a cultural guide to not just keeping your cool in the next 48 hours, but keeping your dignity.
Keep your baps under wraps:
You may think this just applies to the ladies. But such are the dimensions of the average Welsh male physique it is sometimes difficult to distinguish gender between the neck and waistband.
Indeed, during a heatwave, it can seem as if Wales is at the forefront of the greatest scientific breakthrough in the history of medicine. Why else are the streets full of pregnant men? And then we realise it is just the annual baring of moobs and beer guts. So chaps, if the only way you’re going to get a six-pack is in Bargain Booze, wrap up your baps.
Swelter in style:
In 1977 the birth rate fell to a record low of 657,000, according to government statistics. This was traced back to the impact of the legendary heatwave of 1976. But while it is assumed people were just too hot for hanky panky that summer, don’t discount the affect of how unattractive we look when the temperature rises.
While the continentals manage to look cool literally and figuratively, British men never know what to put on their feet in the heat while women should never assume that a wardrobe that works in Magaluf works in Maesteg. Spare us the excess lobster-flesh acreage. For once, the fashion rule is; more is more.
Don’t go for the burn:
This applies to those pyromaniac little oiks who set every beautiful valleys mountain on fire and the obsessions of the tanorexics. On the subject of the latter, the Walnut Women of Wales are already out in force.
Where do these instantly tanned females come from? Sneering at your consumptive pallor, they thrust their caramel forearms towards yours for a quick Look-How-Brown-I-Am comparison. Even if you just go pink, peel and get prickly heat, keep thinking they may look like bikini-goddess Ursula Andress in Dr No now, but in 10 years time they’ll look like desiccated old crone Ursula Andress at the end of She.
Don’t be flash in a topless car
: OK it must be great to have a convertible in this weather but do they have to look so damned smug about it? Especially at traffic lights as they shoot a pitying look in your direction.
They won’t look so self-satisfied when they’re picking squashed flies off their noses, attempting to de-tangle that wind-blown nest on their heads and getting caught short in an unexpected thunderstorm. And convertibles are so ubiquitous these days, their cachet is evaporating before you can say “Lisvane nouveau riche”.
How to eat and drink al fresco:
Probably best to avoid pub gardens – places completely devoid of comfort; where uncollected glasses collect more insect life than a natural history museum and where other people’s children are allowed alarming amounts of freedom.
After two pints of Stella, parents are happily oblivious to the fact their offspring cannot be entertained for four hours with one bottle of pop, a packet of Monster Munch and a large plastic tree with a smiley face on it. Given the choice between picnic and bbq, meanwhile, I always prefer food that doesn’t taste of petrol so plump for the former. Just don’t adopt the dress code of that large lady on a rug in a Penarth park.
Phew what a scorcher – the rules of heatwave reportage:
Just for the journos, this one. From global warming doom and buckling rail tracks to sunburned cats and pictures of pretty girls frolicking in fountains, it’s all so predictable.
Yes we know Abercynon is hotter than Athens and the bookies are bracing themselves and you could cook an egg on the hard shoulder of the M4 etc etc. The sooner we get back to proper silly season stories – Big Cat sightings in Powys and Lembit Opik on the chances of an asteroid wiping out civilisation – the better.
Enjoy it: While the ubiquity of people beaming: “Hot enough for you?” may be beginning to grate and it is scientifically proven that heat decreases tolerance levels, do try to make the most of it. For there is another certainty about Warm Wales. Sooner or later it reverts to Cool Cymru. And when you’re sheltering from the drizzle in a pacamac in Porthcawl Pavilion your only consolation will be the absence of a spreadeagled sunbather thrusting his budgie smugglers in your direction.