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Surviving by degrees: 33 rules for a (very British) heatwave | Stephen Moss

1. Don’t talk about the heatwave. Not incessantly, anywhere. British phlegm, sangfroid, stiff upper lip and all that.

2. Avoid the Daily Express, which will be full of reports of “KILLER HEAT” and “MELTDOWN BRITAIN”. Anything above 25C constitutes killer heat for the Express.

3. Men: do not wear shorts to the office. This is a place of work, not a beach. This prohibition also applies to culottes.

4. Women: decorum at all times please; not too much openly displayed flesh.

5. Remember, of course, that appearing topless in a public place is a criminal offence.

6. No flip-flops (John Crace – we mean you – especially in your new, dignified parliamentary role).

7. Wear linen: you will look ridiculous, but at least you’ll be cool.

8. Carry a bottle of water with you at all times. Throw it at public address systems that instruct you to carry a bottle of water with you in hot weather.

9. Do not hold barbecues: they are likely to cause fires that could consume privet hedges across the home counties.

10. Parents: do not allow your children to play in fountains, their squeals are extremely irritating and no one wants to be sitting next to them on the bus home.

Children and their parents play in the fountains at the Southbank Centre, outside the Royal Festival Hall. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

11. Remember that 33C is not actually that hot compared with Seville or the Sahara, so stop moaning.

12. Mercury is even hotter, though not – I’ve just discovered to my surprise – as hot as Venus. The average temperature on Venus is 462C. What would the Express make of that?

13. If you are excessively warm, hang about in the refrigerated section of your local supermarket. Managers are usually happy to let you put large packs of frozen peas on your head to cool off.

14. Eat lots of ice cream. Try to remember to pay for it before you consume it.

15. In fact, ice cream isn’t very good for you in a heatwave. I just said that to get in a feeble supermarket “joke”.

16. Counter-intuitively, curry is good for you. Why do you think Indians eat it?

17. Excessive exercise can be bad for you in hot weather, so avoid the gym. Actually, this applies whatever the temperature.

18. We realise it’s jolly warm at Wimbledon, with middle-aged ladies fainting on Centre Court and muscular Croats changing their shirts between sets, so no need to bang on about it. Nor are we interested in the record-breaking number of bottles of Pimm’s consumed this year.

Yes, it’s hot and Pimm’s is being drunk at Wimbledon. Enough, already. Photograph: Ben Radford/Corbis

19. And, yes, we know the definition of an English summer is “three hot days followed by a thunderstorm”. No need to repeat it ad nauseam.

20. Avoid Brighton beach and parks in central London, or a photograph of you looking distinctly déshabillé is likely to appear in a national newspaper. There is a law that Brighton, or very occasionally Bournemouth, are the only beaches that can appear on newspaper front pages. No photograph of, say, the beach at Filey has ever appeared in a mainstream publication.

21. Vulnerable groups – the young, the old, people with breathing problems – are at risk in hot weather, so do something useful and check on the wellbeing of anyone you know who might be suffering in the heat.

22. That still does not mean you should fall prey to the Daily Express. It’s only KILLER HEAT for a tiny percentage of the population.

23. Pets can also be at risk during hot weather, so make sure they have plenty to drink and are kept cool. (All this caring advice is not like me at all – I fear the heat may be affecting my brain.)

24. There is no rule 24. In very hot weather it’s good to pause every so often to gather your thoughts.

25. Lager is not recommended in hot weather, especially when consumed in large, swaying, inebriated crowds on the pavement outside pubs in the early evening. Go home and watch the tennis like a decent British person. And look in on a vulnerable person (or pet) on the way.

26. The evidence on the efficacy of tea in hot weather is mixed, but I swear by it – the sweeter the better.

Photograph: Frank Baron for the Guardian

27. Buy a fan.

28. Bad luck – they’re all sold out already.

29. This hot spell is not evidence of global warming; just as icy temperatures in February don’t mean that global warming is a myth. In the winter it’s cold; in the summer it’s hot. We call these the seasons.

30. Yes, it’s hotter than Brazil, but this is hardly surprising as it’s winter in Brazil.

31. If it becomes really unbearable, find a cave to live in. If even the cave is too hot, try a shopping mall.

32. Remember, because of the humidity, the nights are worse than the days: consider sleeping in the garden.

33. Do not read absurd sets of rules for heatwaves. It’s far too hot for that. Surely you’ve got something better to do. And if you haven’t, go and have a lie down instead.

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