I arrived back from the States earlier this week filled with gloom. I had spent the previous few days swimming in the sea, sunbathing by a gloriously cool swiming-pool and dining outside in the dusk. Grey old London was going to be a shock to the system. Boarding my return flight, I prepared to layer-up, swathe myself in knitwear and don umpteen pairs of socks. And then I landed at Heathrow to bright, warm sunshine and found myself a tad overdressed.
The Indian summer also induces sartorial crisis. Londoners have gone into fashion meltdown in response to the relatively high temperatures as we enter October. Alas, many of them have equated sun and heat with the beach, and are now attired for an afternoon of sipping daiquiris poolside rather than a day in the office. Summer wardrobes have been dusted off, or finally retrieved after last year (I was still wearing sheepskin boots in June, for crying out loud), and our streets are now full of the most unsuitable flip-flops, filmsy dresses, strapless tops and tiny shorts. The most heinous of crimes is committed by those who believe that a little heat is a licence to substitute a bikini top for a bra; deeply inappropriate in the workplace. And to be honest, it looks ridiculous. The nearest seaside is a good hour's train-ride away, and I don't imagine many of the people who are pratting around town in little more than what a liberal Victorian might have considered swimwear have any intention of visiting Brockwell Lido, or heading for a dip in Hampstead Ponds. So what's with the beachwear, people? No one's asking you to clad yourself in a woollen boiler suit, but could we all find something a tad more seemly in which to sweat out the next few days? Particularly in an office meeting. And chaps, removing your shirt to wander around town on your lunch break is just not on. All that exposed, white flesh fair puts one off one's Pret sandwich.
The really ridiculous fact of the matter is that it's not even that hot. The thermometer has yet to hit the 30oC mark. (86oF for those who prefer to operate in Fahrenheit.) Temperatures were similar, if not higher, over in New York City yet New Yorkers continued with life as normal in their suits, trousers and skirts that kept their inner thighs well-hidden. Could it be that it is merely the novelty of a little sunshine in our city that induces this crazy behaviour rather than the heat itself?