Rhodes on a famous heatwave, a fiery holiday and debates that never end

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

The drought of '76
The drought of '76

Chipping Campden, Gloucs.

Right. So we all know what a pub holiday in July is supposed to be like, agreed? Temperature about 16C, stiff breeze, occasional showers and bracing walks up and down godforsaken hills. Your day ends with wet clothes steaming on the radiator and a warming plate of roast beef in the snug, with the landlord chucking logs on the fire. A proper English summer.

Not on this trip. We consulted the forecast to discover that our three days in the Cotswolds, confidently booked some weeks ago, are expected to hit 36C and come with a government health warning. After flaming June, behold ferocious July.

Comparisons with Ye Greate Drought of 1976 are inevitable, but that was a very different sort of event. Back then, the heat lasted for weeks and there was virtually no rain for a month. My finest hour came when, following Whitehall's suggestion, I adapted our washing machine to irrigate the vegetable garden. It worked for a while and then the pump exploded. No veg, no clean clothes, big overdraft.

So far, this year's heatwaves have been scorchio but short-lived and we seem to have more water in our reservoirs. In 1976 a famous photo showed Pitsford Water near Northampton bone dry, the bed baked solid and fissured. I was sailing on the same reservoir a few days ago and it was reassuringly full. It rained. The rain was hot.

Anyroad, by the time this appears we will have endured two roasting days in Chipping Campden. Naturally, we packed our walking boots and anoraks. Well, we're British, aren't we?

I suggested Keir Starmer's curry and beer issues may generate further debate which generated further debate from people who said there must be no further debate.

In the middle of all that debate, a rare complete skeleton of a soldier was uncovered at the battlefield of Waterloo. It was a timely reminder that Waterloo, 1815, is still endlessly dissected and debated by experts, as is Agincourt, Dunkirk, the Titanic and every other great event in history. It is human nature to question and re-examine things and that applies as much to Keir's curry as to the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Further debate invited.

Top Stories

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News