Wednesday, 1 April 2020

The long, hot summer


1911 was remembered as the year of the heat wave.
Summer temperatures climbed after May and hovered between 80F and reached 92F (33C) in King's Lynn in Norfolk breaking all previous records for East England. By the end of July the lack of rain and scorching sun resulted in a paucity of grass as pastures turned brown. Farmers were forced to raise the price of milk. By late July song birds were silent in the fields and lanes. In early August the health of England was faltering in the continuing heat.
The sun continued to burn down, and activity in meadow and field ceased. Water pumps and village wells ran dry. The relentless sunshine became oppressive. People crossed to the shady side of the street.
Sun-darkened skin was undesirable and acceptable only in the labouring class and sunburn was a serious hazard
On 11 September the average temperature suddenly dropped by 20 degrees and prospects of rain before long were expected
The Lady magazine was already devoting several pages to new autumn fashions, and sumptuous furs had arrived on the rails of the new department stores. The long, hot summer was over.
This is the background to my latest writing. Seen through the eyes of Ellen, an American dollar princess who finds herself in trouble because she seems unable to become pregnant – and there is a large estate dependent on there being an heir.

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