Unless you happen to be six or seven-years-old – and I’m guessing you’re not – you’ll have lived through enough hot summers to know heat-waves are usually followed by thunderstorms. Indeed, there’s nothing quite like an outburst of summer rain at the end of a sweltering day for washing away the stuffy mugginess and cleansing your parched person after weeks of exhausting temperatures. Even 1976 – yes, even 1976 – saw the drought and the ladybird invasion and ‘Save it!’ stickers and street-corner standpipes eventually consigned to a lifetime of future anecdotes from those who were there when the heavens opened. Thankfully, we don’t live in a country stuck with the one climate all year round, so we’re all aware of the usual pattern when we’ve experienced an occasional bout of extremely hot weather. I wish someone would alert the MSM to this fact. Sometimes it seems their hysterical headlines are penned by those very six or seven-year-olds whose memories don’t stretch back far enough to recognise an annual pattern when it happens.
According to ‘journalists’ suffering from this particular strain of arrested development, ‘The UK’s heat-wave is predicted to come to a dramatic end this week!’ In an unprecedented move, weather forecasters apparently predict it’ll give way to thunderstorms. Fancy that. Now, for those averse to the kind of temperatures the country has been basking in for the last few weeks, the inevitable rainfall will come as one hell of a relief, but it’s highly unlikely they’ll be as shocked by this news as the headline-writers appear to imagine. And if the remarkable revelation that a hot spell will be followed by heavy showers isn’t enough to stoke the requisite panic in the reader, the Project Fear narrative our media seems addicted to informs us that floods are on the way! From the apocalyptic portrait of Britain as some sort of scorched earth African desert that could provoke a finger-wagging ‘told you so’ from Little Miss Thunberg to the unleashing of forces requiring the swift building of an ark, we swing from one crisis to another with barely a Pinter-esque pause for breath in between.
If one were to be a tad more generous towards the headline-writers, one might attribute their open-jawed surprise re the way weather works to a more familiar short-term memory loss. I guess it is fairly commonplace once you’ve lived long enough; by the time we get a year away from the previous summer, for example, I can barely remember if it was a warm one or a wet one last year. I can recall a few exceptionally hot days around six years ago, but only because the heat is attached to an especially vivid memory unrelated to the climate of the moment. Other than that, I see the stats for the UK’s highest temperatures on record and (unless it’s 1976), I would’ve struggled to put a date on said scorchers anyway. Of the top ten hottest days ever recorded in Blighty, all-but three have come this century, with a day from this very summer – 19 July in Coningsby, Lincolnshire – now having deposed 25 July 2019 in Cambridge as the official winner. And it seems only right to reveal the temperature in old money: 104.5 ºF – which is extremely bloody hot. Do you remember it being a hot summer in 2020, 2015, 2006 or 2003, though? I can’t say I do, but they were some of the other years figuring in this top ten, even if we’re only dealing with isolated days rather than a uniquely prolonged dry spell like 1976.
Anyway, as a nice man at the Met Office has explained, the welcome rains won’t cure the drought that has led to the standard hosepipe bans in the sweatiest corners of the country. This is on account of the fact that ground rendered so dry by constant exposure to the kind of heat the red-faced folk of Coningsby endured last month will struggle to absorb the anticipated downpours. A good deal of the water will not therefore soak into the soil and will instead run off it, leading to flash floods. Not a nice prospect for those riverside towns and villages accustomed to a rude awakening whenever this type of rain sends their neighbouring waterways redirected through their living rooms, yet this is not a nationwide crisis yet. Some parts of the country will still be baking in Fahrenheit temperatures of the upper 80s, whereas others will receive the ‘dramatic’ thunder and lightning we’ve been promised. Eight locations in England have now been officially designated drought areas, meaning images of wildfires and shallow reservoirs can carry on being run by news outlets. The insufferable humidity that usually serves as a prologue to a summer storm will be with us, so the experts say, and then rain will stop play. Of course, if investment in infrastructure was a by-product of privatisation, perhaps there wouldn’t be the outrageous amounts of water reserves lost through rotting pipes that have left water companies so ill-prepared for the current crisis, but that would mean depriving directors of their hard-earned bonuses, so we shouldn’t judge them too harshly.
With the coming of the UK’s very own monsoon season, Project Fear has ramped-up the drama by prophesising power-cuts, along with bus and train cancellations. After all, the imminent ending of a story that has generated so many of those hysterical headlines this summer needs to be superseded by another, lest the people slide into complacency and forget the end of the world is nigh. I guess the rains will keep the MSM going until the long-awaited Winter of Discontent is with us – and there’s a shilling for the first person to spot a ‘coldest winter since 1963’ headline. Naturally, this winter simply has to be the coldest since 1963 in order for the cost-of-living crisis story to reach its correct apogee from the perspective of the media. We’ve already been warned gas power stations may be switched-off before we get there as part of an emergency strategy to prevent 70s-style blackouts come the winter – an operation that goes by the suitably dramatic name of a ‘war-game’ plan. Not that any of this reduced power will be reflected in lower energy bills for the customer, mind.
Mercifully, the UK isn’t as dependent on Russian gas as, say, the Germans fatally are; but a hands-across-the-ocean approach to sharing energy with some of our European neighbours could cost us. Interconnectors link Britain with France and Norway, giving Brits top-ups from both nations when the UK network is running low. News that the Norwegians might be forced to ration such exports isn’t encouraging, and some in the industry have claimed the UK’s onshore storage amounts to gas that will span no more than 10 days. Predictions of the kind of energy-saving blackouts that anyone over the age of 50 will recall from candlelit childhoods are being touted, with one insider suggesting a possibility of limiting the use of gas and electricity to barely six hours a day. An ‘unplug-at-home January’ – as it’s been referred to – is the perfect element to add further colour to the forthcoming Project Fear winter narrative we can look forward to. Throw the recession into the mix and there should be enough to keep the MSM going till next spring, if we haven’t all frozen or starved to death by the time it comes around.
What to do? Well, standing for Parliament could be one way to survive the energy apocalypse. Over the past three years, taxpayers have forked-out £420,000 to cover the cost of heating the second homes of honourable members, with 405 MPs claiming energy expenses since April 2019, according to a report by Open Democracy earlier this year. One of those MPs was a certain Ms Truss. No wonder people are taking notice of the findings of this report now more than they did when it was published in the spring. Hot on the heels of Climate Change and Covid and lockdowns and Monkey Pox and a global recession and a summer drought, the MSM has been spoilt for choice, and it looks as though they’ve got plenty more to work with to ensure many a sleepless night. Where’s Nick Ross when you need him?
© The Editor