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The Dave Woodhall column

HEATWAVE GETS ME HOT UNDER THE COLLAR

21-07-2006

Reaction to a bit of sunshine gets Dave Woodhall's temperature soaring

Sometimes I think the world's going barmy and I'm the only sane one left.

We've had a couple of weeks' good weather. It's been very nice, and I've got quite a decent tan - even if it is only my face and arms, because I refuse to take my shirt off and shorts are a ridiculous Continental invention. I'm British, and we guard our white bits jealously.

But while the weather's been very nice, I can't help but think that we're going overboard with worry and concern. The government are issuing all sorts of heath warnings. Apparently we have to dress appropriately, avoid strenuous exercise and drink plenty of fluid. Now excuse me if I'm missing something, but isn't that a bit obvious? The weather's hot so you take your coat off, stop running and have a drink. All this sound common sense/stating the bleeding obvious is contained on a website called Preparing For Emergency. Again, I might be missing the point, but to me an emergency is a flood, hurricane or blizzard. Not a couple of days when the temperature creeps into the nineties.

The education system is grinding to a halt, with schools closing, sports days cancelled and one group of kids being banned from going to the seaside because it might prove too much for them. I can't remember that sort of thing happening when I was at school. Admittedly, there was an inexplicable rise in the number of mystery ailments when the weather was nice, but nobody ever thought that a few hours in the classroom was potentially life-threatening. In any case, what happens next week when the school holidays start? Are all these kids who can't go to school in the hot weather going to be evacuated to Greenland?
And then there's the transport system, with rails being buckled and roads melting. The ludicrous water shortages that the country faces every year despite the amount of rain we endure. The strain on the National Grid due to the heavy use of air conditioning. I wonder how we'd cope in a real emergency.

Now fair enough, some of what I've said hasn't been too serious. I appreciate that there's a chance some people may be at risk from the hot weather. But let's be realistic; what we're experiencing is no worse than the conditions millions of us fly away to enjoy every year. Two weeks ago we were moaning that the weather was cold for the beginning of July; I'll bet anyone that within a couple more weeks we'll be wondering whatever happened to the summer. And all this Nanny State mollycoddling will encourage ever-more groups of people to believe that someone else is responsible for their well-being and everything that happens to them is someone else's fault. I await the first no-win no-fee claim brought by Wayne and Waynetta against the government for not telling them you get burnt if you stay out in the sun too long.

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