There’s a lot of crispy British flesh out there

It appears like everyone is having a heat-wave at the moment. Here in the UK we had a roasting-hot weekend with temperatures reaching 30 degrees Celsius.  And despite living here for almost 2 years I still have no idea what that is in Fahrenheit, except that it’s really friggin hot!  I think just about everyone (except for me, of course) escaped to the parks or beaches this weekend, and this morning on the Tube I could definitely tell that there was a lot of crispy British flesh.  Perhaps it’s just an anomaly, but it seems to me that British people burn so much more easily that Americans, or maybe it’s just that they don’t use enough sun screen (which is called sun cream over here, by the way – one of those awkward differences that make the pharmacist look at you funny when you ask for it at the drugstore!)

I think I was most surprised about the heat this weekend when I saw it described, on the front page of the newspaper, as an Indian summer.  I had no idea they used that term!  I always thought it applied to Native Americans (or, if you’re Robin Williams, feathers-not-dots).  But now I’m wondering whether it originated because of the Indian subcontinent, and was exported to the colonies?  Luckily for me, God invented the Internet, which supplies all answers.  Wikipedia says:  The earliest known use was by French-American writer John Hector St. John de Crevecoeur in rural New York in 1778: “Then a severe frost succeeds which prepares it to receive the voluminous coat of snow which is soon to follow; though it is often preceded by a short interval of smoke and mildness, called the Indian Summer.”   The entry for Indian Summer also provides several theories of the etymology of the term, but none have anything to do with the British in the subcontinent of India (dots-not-feathers). So I can pretty much be sure (as much as you can trust Wikipedia, anyway) that the term came across the pond the other way – and the Brits have adapted it.

Of course, none of that etymologizing is doing much to keep me cool!  Best get myself off to the pool for a swim tonight!


Posted on 03/10/2011, in Just a funny and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. 30C = (nearasdammit) 90F (too hot to speak)
    25C = 77F (dress code? what dress code?)
    20C = 68F (short sleeve shirts are safe)
    15C = 60F (keep a woolly close by)
    10C = 50F (keep your jacket on)
    0C = freezing = 32F

    Strictly speaking, what we’ve been having isn’t really an Indian summer as originally described, which would apply in late October or November. There is an old phrase for this sort of late September good weather (which isn’t unusual though not often as hot as this year) – “St Michael’s summer” since St Michael’s day, one of the traditional quarter days for payment of rents and bills, falls in late September (which is why the university and legal autumn term is called Michaelmas Term). Nothing to do with Marks and Spencer, just to confuse the issue.

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