Then the day grew hotter, and duller,
the gleam went,
everything seemed to be dusty and heavy,
even though there were no clouds at all,
the air was oppressive because of the lack of any breeze,
the stock-stillness of it meant
that you seemed to be re-breathing the same
stale patch in and out, in and out.
Tempers of children frayed, farmers,
their backs brown as walnuts
and wearing canvas hats, worked in the fields,
bringing in the late hay,
dogs lay about under hedges panting wetly,
and in the air, the faint, over-all smell of decay,
a seeping uncleanliness hanging about
in corners and oozing out of ditches,
lingering on the nostrils,
the smell of hot countryside without rain for weeks,
when streams dry up and all the dung-heaps
and drains and cesspit outlets bake in the sun.
Susan Hill goes on to enumerate the
sneezing weather and itching weather
clouds of thrips, tiny black thunderflies biting
sweaty flesh, midges, gnats, fleas, cattle-flies and horse-flies.
Britain is supposedly set for a two week heatwave
with temperatures hitting 90º F, (32º C).
This forecast is hedged about with gloomy predictions
for unpleasant and oppressive heat
with high humidity and thunderstorms.
Is it really not possible to find and enjoy
one happy interlude of summery bliss
to feed off for the rest of the year?
Don a big sun hat, sandals and frock.
Live by the sundial instead of a clock.
Laze in a meadow, splash in the sea,
lie on the grass in the shade of a tree.
Sit by a lake, leave the house without coats,
row down a stream in a small wooden boat.
Open the windows
let in the breeze
silence the boiler,
do as you please.
Go to a country fête,
Eat strawberry ice cream
Sleep in a hammock.
A Midsummer dream.
I thank you.