Today has been a fruitless search for somewhere cool to hang out. The mess room, which is little better than a concrete box, has been a windowless cell block in a neglected part of Hades. Even the ‘fridge’ as one of the car park basements is popularly known has been converted into a humid airless anteroom to hell by the warm weather and still air. No escape there.
No matter where you go it’s 40 Celsius plus (Over 104º Fahrenheit )and my skin is ‘luxuriating’. I perspire therefore I am. The summer sun has been for want of a better term, relentless.
Around three I sought respite in the municipal park, sauntering along in the shade of a row of chestnut trees while ostensibly patrolling the car park and watching herds of foolishly exposed frying flab decorating the rapidly drying greensward. I ran into Charley who had exactly the same idea. Sod the beat system, today of all days. Let Management complain, they have air conditioning in their offices.
“You all right Bill?”
“Nope. Too bloody hot.”
“Get out there. Top up yer tan mate.”
“That reminds me, we’re out of sunblock.”
“Tony’s gone off sick, and Pete. Oh yeah, I heard Asif’s not feeling too well.”
“Heatstroke. Sunstroke. Headaches.”
“I feel like joining them.”
“Me too. What’s it been like in the town centre?”
“Nothing much. They run like startled rabbits the second I turn up.”
“Yeah, me too.” We stare out from the shade into the sun parched parkland with all the sunbathers, gently shaking our heads at the folly of it all.
At this point the Radio crackles into life. “591 calling control.”
“I’m not feeling too good, any chance of a pick up?”
“Negative 591, can you make it back on your own?”
“He’ll be lucky.” Charley commented. “Silly sods been flogging himself to death in this heat.”
“Yeah, but the new guys have to learn for themselves. They don’t listen to us veterans.” I reply. We exchange shrugs.
“591 to control. I’ve had it. It’s too hot.” You can hear that the guy is suffering. He’s only been out on his own for two days and doesn’t understand that it’s only a job. Daft wassuck.
“Control to 591. Location please.”
“Corner of High Street and Long Avenue.”
“You can walk from there.” You can hear Control almost gloating, sadistic bastard. If he wasn’t a mile away I’d be heading to 591 to give him a hand to get back to base myself. You have to look after your mates in this game; experience teaches you that no other sod will.
“591 to control, that’s negative, repeat negative.”
“Oh for fucks sake.” Charley complains.
“On our way.” About time. Bloody wind up merchant
Our conversation resumes as the radio lapses into silence, but we’re both silently cursing Control. A lot of the time you feel you’re out there on your own, and their attitude doesn’t help.
“So what brings you here?”
“Trying to get out of the heat.”
“Great day for a barbeque.”
“Do you think anyone would notice if we skived off to the pub?”
“What, in uniform?”
“Don’t be daft.”
“With my luck we’d run into management.”
“Yeah. CCTV’s quiet.”
“Maybe they’re suffering too. Those monitors kick off a lot of heat.”
“Nah. They’ve got air con, lucky bastards.”
“Who else is on today?”
“Della, Mike, Cob and Riz are on middle shift. The night crew should start in a while.”
“I’d rather be on nights in this weather.”
“I’d rather be on leave.”
“You’ve just been on leave, you skiving bugger.”
“This is a problem because?” We both laugh.
“What would you be doing right now if you wanted to cool off?”
“I feel like walking into the municipal boating lake and sitting down in the middle. Just to cool off.”
“In full uniform?”
“Your missus would kill you if you came home covered in the shit that gets dumped in there.”
“At the moment death holds no fear for me on that score. Besides, who’d cook for her?”
“Besides, I can run faster than she can.”
”Time to move on, or they’ll wonder what I’m up to. I’ve been logged on to this location for over half an hour.”
”Wouldn’t bother if I were you, it’s like a bloody graveyard out there.”
”Knowing management, they’re in CCTV right now, watching for us.”
”Don’t worry about it. We’re out of sight of the cameras here. Garden services should have cut back those trees over there but they didn’t.”
”Good job the local scrotes don’t know that.”
Our conversation drifted on until four. I did a desultory meander around the few cars parked near the municipal boating lake, just to show willing. It’s a Tuesday and deserted, just like most term time Tuesdays. The only motion was the occasional movement out on the field of frying juvenile flesh in the park. The kids who had just finished their exams were making the most of their free time by doing their ever pinker impersonation of a Seal haulout
. A few senior school age kids tried to play football, but were quickly defeated by the Mediterranean temperatures. Some of the more sexually advanced mid teenage girls have already bred and were fanning their overheating offspring in the sparse shade of the municipal trees.
Legends will be told about this summer, like Sixty Nine, Seventy Six and Two Thousand and Three. The heat, the parties, the girls, the sunburn. Today, the hottest day of the year so far? So long as I can have a cool shower after work I’m okay with it.