Saturday, 4 July 2009

Headline News: It's bloomin' hot here... (by Kate)

There was me thinking it was only the English who are obsessed with the weather. How wrong can you be? I am rapidly reaching the conclusion that Spaniards are even more fascinated about the atmospheric situation outside their windows than we are. Never a day goes by without the TV news running a story along the lines of "Hace Mucho Calor!!" (Ain't It Hot?!) with pictures of crowded beaches, people eating ice-creams and vox pops saying things like "It is so hot today I have to wear short sleeves!" and other similarly penetrating comments.
Of course it is very hot, but that's to be expected in Spain during July, where temperatures hitting the forties aren't uncommon in some parts of the peninsula. It happens in a reasonably predictable fashion every year, so why it's such a source of obsession for the broadcasters I really don't know.
The good part about the summer heat is it's an excellent excuse to brandish that most Spanish of accessories, the fan, or abanico as it's called here. It's entirely commonplace to see women of all ages creating themselves a bit of breeze like this and unlike the UK, where fans are regarded as part of a fancy dress costume, nobody bats an eyelid if you pull one out and start wafting away. It takes a bit of practice to perfect the wrist action so you can open your fan with one smooth action and even more practice to be able to close it again, but boy is it satisfying! It took a lesson from my gay friend, Jose before I got the hang of it and now I spend more time opening and closing my fan (purple, with flowers) than actually fanning myself. The "man fan" is also available in shops here, but most chaps prefer not to compromise their macho image by using one (in public, anyway). Most of them make do with a newspaper, meeting agenda or flyer provided by the many street publicists who leaflet the metro entrances in Madrid.
As for how we're coping with the summer heat, well, not bad, so far. Of course it helps to have air conditioning in the flat and a swimming pool available for complete body submersion, admittedly. But even when we're out and about, the simple expedient of staying in the shade and drinking lots of fluids (of the ice-cold variety) keeps us reasonably cool. Plus, Madrid heat being very dry, you don't tend to sweat much (unless you're foolish enough to run around in it) and the quality of feeling hot is somehow less draining. And of course, there's always the fan.

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