Louise Minchin on the heatwave and the summer of 1976
PUBLISHED: 00:00 08 August 2018
Summertime and the livin’ is easy...the popular BBC presenter has been loving the heatwave and recalling the heady days of 1976.
This month the seemingly endless heat, hot sultry nights, and the way the bone-dry grass prickles the soles of my feet have transported me back to happy memories of the summer of 1976.
I was only seven at the time, but I remember vividly the heatwave, and the subsequent drought. With no adult worries or responsibilities, it seemed the height of excitement.
I loved so much about it: the excuse to have lessons outside under the shade of the trees, spending hours laid out on towels baking beside the local pool and leaping into the cool water, swimming so much that my hair turned green from the chlorine, and burning the back of my legs on burning hot car-seats. Most exciting of all was being allowed to stay up late, with the windows thrown wide open, watching telly until the breeze cooled us down.
We didn’t, like some others, have stand pipes in our street but we did have a hose-pipe ban, and my Dad embraced the mission to save water with gusto. He constructed an elaborate system of inter-connecting hosepipes to transport water from the bath-tub in our first floor bathroom to the vegetable garden. We also took the slogan, ‘Save water, bath with a friend’, seriously in our household. The bathwater would only be used on the veggies if all three of us children had already had a good scrub in it. I don’t remember the legendary plague of ladybirds, but do remember being overwhelmed by ants swarming over the burnt lawn. This summer has felt like 1976, and once again I’ve loved it. It has felt like living in a foreign climate, the heat making the Cheshire plains resemble the arid landscape of Andalucia. In a bid to save water my husband has tried to rig up a system just like my Dad did, to save his vegetables.
I have loved the temperatures, paddling with the dogs in the warm glow of early evening, feeling sunshine on my back at a party at nine at night, and going to work at 4am when it is light, and already 19 degrees. It has felt liberating and decadent. I know it can’t last but I will remember fondly the 2018 summer of sunshine when it has gone.