Here Comes The Sun

It’s time to re-think my plan to retire to The Med. Yesterday’s weather proves that the UK is already The Place In The Sun.  

Older man with weathered skin
Image: Firdaus Ansari/Unsplash

FOR MANY people of my generation who are lucky enough to have a few quid, buying a Place In The Sun has long been a fond dream.
 
Whether the dream looked like a Tuscan Villa, an apartment on the Cote D’Azur, or something seaside-y in Spain or Portugal, lots of Brits of my age and older have long had moving somewhere with guaranteed sunshine high up on their To Do List.
 
But after yesterday – when the UK just missed out on recording its hottest day ever but temperatures still topped a stifling 38 Degrees Centigrade – I’m chucking out the plan.
 
Following the extreme summer last year across northern Europe – and with similar temperatures now reportedly 30 times more likely than previously due to global warming – there’s no longer any need to move to The Med.
 
Because where we live now has become The Place In The Sun.

The first time I remember coming across a temperature of 38C was about 15 years ago, when the kids were small and we’d go to Andalusia in August so my wife could indulge her passion for learning Flamenco.
 
I remember compulsory siestas in mid-afternoon, shuttered shops and abandoned streets, sunshields inside cars everywhere – but steering wheels still too hot to touch after sitting for hours in such extreme heat.
 
I remember that you couldn’t get fresh vegetables for dinner because it was too hot for anything to grow after July.
 
Maybe you’d get a dish of peppers if you were lucky, but there was no chance of lettuce. Asparagus was that white stuff out of a jar and a salad was that, an onion, and some sweetcorn out of a tin.
 
The last time I felt a breeze as hot as the one I felt in Balham High Road yesterday, it was in Europe’s hottest city, Seville, at siesta time. And a sirocco in South London is a scary thing.
 
It told me we’re going to have to learn to live like Andalusians pretty quick: sleeping in the afternoons and staying up until midnight to take advantage of the cooler evenings. Eating more preserved food. Finding ways to cool down our houses, our tube trains, and our streets.
 
But if we need to start living like they do in Southern Spain, how are people currently living around the Med going to cope if the world continues to warm up?
 
Aside from the collapse of the vital tourism industries there due to the sudden absence of stay-home-and-swelter Northern Europeans, what will happen if Andalusia, The Algarve, and North Africa become uninhabitable?
 
Where are the people living there going to want to move then? Given Brexit and the awful hostility to immigration here, I doubt that everyone in the UK is going to welcome them with open arms.
 
In the gym yesterday, as I dodged the worst of the heat by running on a Planet-warming electric treadmill in the Earth-shagging air conditioning, I watched Boris Johnson on TV, talking up Brexit in his first appearance at Prime Minister’s Questions.
 
Seeing him at the Despatch Box, flanked by unlovable Brexit hawks like Priti Patel and Jacob Rees-Mogg on the front bench, I couldn’t help the feeling that things were already spinning out of control.
 
But what more can an ordinary man like me do to avert the coming disaster? I’ve never even considered voting Tory or Brexit, but here we are anyway.
 
As for climate change, our family doesn’t own a car and we take trains whenever we can.
 
I ride my bike everywhere. I fly only once a year, we grow my own fruit and veg, use energy saving lightbulbs and try to put on another jumper rather than turn up the thermostat
 
Some say we can plant a trillion trees to mitigate the effects of climate change and buy us all a bit more time.
 
I say: sign me up. I’ll bring my shovel if you tell me where to plant them.
 
Failing that, maybe I’ll just plant them myself in the back garden. And they can shade my swimming pool. 

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