Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Keep Cool and Classy

Aristocratic Caro wears a linen dress, with a cardigan over it for the chilly evenings She shudders at people who reveal “acres of sunburned flesh”. Young Stow Crats used to wear a jersey slung over their shoulders (never tied round their waist). Caro says “Create a through draught, and take up the (beautiful, Persian) rugs in the hall – York stone flags are so cool.” She makes her own lemonade using a recipe from Mrs Beeton. (1/2 pint cold water, juice of one lemon, 1/4 tsp bicarb, castor sugar to taste. Add the lemon-juice to the water, sweeten, stir in the bicarb and drink while the mixture is effervescing.)

Upper middle-class Upwards who live in Hampstead open the trunk where they keep all the summer clothes they’ve had for 30 years and take out an old cotton number which they wear with thick, flat, brown Clarks sandals. They are so out they're in, but they don't care. They drink Pimm's.

Lower middle-class Jen Teale says she’s got a tan in Morocco when she’s just gone lobster and damaged her skin. She drinks Campari and soda.

Samantha Upward can’t sunbathe because it’s a capitalist plot so she remains very white, like a Victorian lady. But she can’t take practical steps to keep cool (problem-solving is so goal-oriented!). She can’t wear a baseball cap to keep the sun out of her eyes because they’re American. She may wear a floppy hat, but fears friends will laugh at her. She could wear a straw hat from the Boden catalogue (called "Molly"), but only as a fashion statement. She can’t fan herself with a fan – she might draw attention to herself. She drinks Rocks elderflower, made very weak. She avoids fizzy drinks - there's something particularly corporate about the bubbles. And she can’t have an electric fan in her home. She is still convinced she's a rebel and a free spirit. When her husband Gideon cracks and buys some fans, she's still wailing "But a low setting will keep you cooler - and use less electricity - and save the planet - and think of the bills!"

Working-class Sharon Definitely has one of those battery-powered hand fans and says “It’s really warm today!” (Upwards and Stow Crats say “hot” because they call a spade a spade.) Very Bohemian Rowena carries a Japanese parasol and has a selection of beautiful fans. She installs a windcatcher on her roof and drinks Fanta. If this heatwave goes on she might build herself a Yemeni adobe house with thick clay walls.

Sharon and her friends go to the beach and get drunk and leave all their rubbish behind. Samantha and her friends have great fun picking it up and tutting. Thalia upward makes a lot of posters and T shirts reading BAG YOUR LITTER AND TAKE IT HOME. Who knows, might work!

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