AT THE time of writing it is still Quite Warm. It is entirely possible that normal British summer service will have been resumed when you read this, but at the moment it is like living in some sort of science-fiction movie in which the earth moves ever closer to the sun and men respond by wearing flip-flops.
Reading recent columns, you might have been led into thinking that the relentless heat – or the “bit-nippy-might-need-a- coat” season if you’re African – irks me.
And if you have that impression you have got me bang to rights. I just want a world in which grass is the colour of grass and not the colour of Gwyneth Paltrow’s hair. I just want a world in which I can have a shower before I go to bed and not need another as soon as I wake up. I just want a world in which, when I go to bed, in order to be comfortable I am not forced to turn my bedroom into an all-you-can-eat buffet for insects.
More to the point, I just want a world in which attempting to keep cool does not make me look like a dangerously inept chump.
But we do not live in that perfect world. We live in a world in which somebody can have the job title “service lead for liveability”, in which television news channels focus for hours on end on a closed door, and in which a woman who wore too much blue eye-shadow on The Apprentice is employed as a social commentator.
And as proof that we do not live in that perfect world, I will tell you about The Bad Thing That Happened.
I was walking to work and I was feeling hot – not in the Beyonce sense, more in the Windsor Davies sense. I passed one of those coffee shops of the sort I visited last week, and there was a sign in the window for a “mango and passion fruit cooler”.
“That’s just the ticket,” I thought. “I like mango. I am not unduly put off by passion fruit. And cooler? That is exactly what I want to be. It is written in the stars. Surely they can’t expect me to make that for myself.” I removed my sunglasses – for anybody who wears sunglasses indoors is a fool unless he be Stevie Wonder – and went inside.
I emerged 10 minutes later, carrying a clear plastic cup filled with orange-coloured slush, with one of those domes designed for people who like a massive swirl of cream on the top of their coffee and wish to transport it in its pristine state to their place of work.
When future historians look at these domes, they will laugh with horror at our decadent ways. “How soft our ancestors were,” they will say. “No wonder they could not defeat our alien overlords. All hail Zarg.”
I arrived at work and sighed. I was still wearing my sunglasses.
But I could not remove them, because I was carrying a bag, my electronic pass, my jacket – it was warm, remember – and my domed slush cup. I was going to look like an idiot because once again I had totally underestimated the number of hands I would need over the course of the day.
I approached the turnstile. I am not entirely sure why there is a turnstile. I can understand it at Alton Towers, but there is rarely a queue to get into work. I placed my pass against the sensor. It didn’t work. I tried again, with the same result.
I sighed more heavily and gave it a third go. There was a beep, and the light went green for a second, but it turned red before I had a chance to walk through. It was quite frustrating.
A plan presented itself. I walked right up to the turnstile, leant back, held the pass against the sensor, heard the beep, and pushed against the turnstile.
But the turnstile did not move. What I had done was walk into a crotch-height metal bar. “Ooyah!” I said, in a high-pitched voice, and I dropped my slush all over the electronic gubbins. “Aargh!” I said. Sighing somehow did not seem enough.
I had no paper towels with me, so I tried the turnstile again. This time it worked and I raced into the nearest toilet, passing at speed a man emerging. I can only imagine what he assumed.
I grabbed a toilet roll and rushed back out, hiding it under my jacket. Yes, I could have explained if called upon why I was running around the office with a toilet roll in my hand, but it would have taken some time, and I needed to get to the electronic gubbins before the slush melted.
As I wiped up the orange mess, a colleague passed with ease through the turnstile.
He looked at me and said, “Are you wearing shades indoors, Gary?”