I’ve already turned up the heat on Annecdotal, with my previous post on the novel, Instructions for a Heatwave. I’d been going to save it for a sultry summer’s day – should we get one this year – but Charli’s prompt makes it equally topical as we come to the end of a showery April. What I recall of the summer of 1976 is how unprepared we were for the heat here in Britain. How we must’ve sweated in our heavy nylon clothes as we endeavoured to keep up our cold-climate routines. Just as Gretta in Maggie Farrell’s novel continues to bake her own bread in inflated temperatures, I have a vivid memory of how, the heat already unbearable, my ironing just had to be done.
We seem equally unprepared for the floods that now beset our shores with alarming regularity. I’m not sure exactly when I read The Flood by Maggie Gee – but given that it was published in 2004, it can’t be that long ago – but, since then, events that seemed exaggerated in the novel have been played out again and again on the evening news: stinking streets; stranded cattle; ordinary people going about their business by boat. The privileged are determined to continue as normal in Maggie Gee’s apocalyptic London: the infrastructure may be crumbling, people may be homeless and the rain interminable, but President Bliss directs his energies into wooing celebrities at an evening “do”.