Magazine article The Spectator

Some like It Hot

Magazine article The Spectator

Some like It Hot

Article excerpt

As far as I'm concerned, global warming was proved to be an incontrovertible fact last week in the beer garden of my local pub. The scepticism of scientists and academics no longer washes. For about the past five years I've been noting the warning signs. The sun has felt hotter. The winters in the south-west have felt consistently wetter. In summer, the horizon, seen from my window across miles of open sea, is rarely unobscured by air pollution. And mountaineering friends returning from abroad swear that snow lines everywhere are retreating.

Until last week, though, I reserved judgment. What do I know? Maybe the sun feels hotter because my skin and hair is thinning as I get older. Maybe the horizon is less sharp because my eyesight isn't what it was. Perhaps my mountaineering friends aren't truthful or fail to take account of changing seasons. And in any case, if popular anxiety is justified and the planet is heating up slightly, so what? Everything changes except the avant-garde -- and thank goodness for that. And there's always the nudist beach at the bottom of the road to fall back on if it gets a bit hot and sticky.

We were lounging around a wooden table in the beer garden in the middle of the afternoon: bare chests, bare legs, sunglasses; drinking tall frosted glasses of icecold lager and feeling like kings. Wafting across from the next table was the sweet smell of skunk from an extended family of young New Age-type travellers, six of them, all nicely stoned and inclining towards the horizontal, plus two young lurchers and a contented baby.

Suddenly, one of them, this skinny, sinewy, tattooed guy, also shirtless, jumps to his feet, goes over to a flowering fuchsia bush and studies it intently. Then he goes nuts. 'Guys! Guys! Quick!' he yells, and frantically beckons to the others to come over. One of them raises himself to his feet and ambles across. And as soon as he arrives at the bush, and focuses on the exact spot his mate is pointing at, he too seems to take leave of his senses. Now both of them are holding their heads with both hands and hopping about, and yelling, 'Man!' and 'Jeez!' and 'Far out!' and such like. And soon all six of them are there, exclaiming and hopping about and pointing whatever it is out to the baby.

'Come on. Let's see what the freaks are going on about, ' says Trev resignedly. …

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