Jayne Dawson: I hate the big chill and I'm not talking about winter

I have no idea what the temperature will be outside as you read this.

Tuesday, 23rd August 2016, 2:26 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th August 2016, 8:34 am
BLAST OFF: Supermarkets leave us cold.

Right here, right now it’s scorchio, but four seasons in one day doesn’t even begin to cover it in the summer of 2016, so it could be cracking flags, it could be shivering your timbers. We have learned to expect anything.

Doesn’t make it easy though. People who leave early for work find themselves bewildered daily, the business of clothing themselves appropriately a challenge too far.

They stagger out the door dressed for an early morning freeze, and then spend the time from mid-morning onwards slowly dissolving into a sweat slick. It’s not nice for them and it’s not pretty for us.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

We know why. It’s because the weather cycle is all over the shop. Ice caps are melting; polar bears are teetering on their tippy toes on ice floes the size of a Cornetto; our garden flowers live in fear, never knowing whether that sunshine is tempting them to bloom only for a frost to shrivel them in their prime.

I ask you, who in their right mind would be a snowdrop in current times?

I’m not making light of weighty matters. Well I am, but I know it’s a serious issue. The climate is changing, it’s only the cause that we are arguing the toss about.

Anyway, here’s the thing. I can cope with all that. The chill of a grey August day, the unhealthy mugginess of a warm December morning. I embrace it all. I carry a large bag of alternative-season clothing about with me at all times and that solves that, though my shoulder is suffering.

Here is what I can’t stand: the artificial flipping between sweat and shiver forced upon us by air conditioning. I have never yet been in any situation genuinely improved by a vicious, artificial blast of Arctic air.

In a hotel room, air conditioning is a torture. It’s noisy, it’s like having a vacuum cleaner droning away in the background, and it is impossible to switch off without recourse to your specs and a training manual - or a hammer.

And to those of you muttering about hot nights in far off climes, I say this: if you can’t stand the heat get out of the country. Leave those beaches alone and go look at fjords in Norway instead.

But a special place in hell has to be reserved for supermarkets and the big chill they impose on shoppers.

It can be balmy as you like outside: the perfect temperature for British blokes to team hairy legs with long shorts, socks and their work shoes.

Inside that supermarket though, it’s a different world. The first clue is the staff - they are all wearing fleeces and gloves. They give pitying looks to the less appropriately clad customers gradually turning blue and tearful behind their trollies.

But it is as shoppers (victims) approach the freezer aisles that the situation becomes critical. To reach the fish fingers they have to negotiate the whimpering figures of lightly-clothed unfortunates who have made the mistake of touching the metal sides and are now stuck fast with freezer burn. It’s like that scene in Narnia where all the creatures are frozen solid. Honestly, this is only the teeniest exaggeration.

Car air conditioning has dangers of its own. There have been cases, actual cases, of people getting in their cars hale and hearty and getting out of them, a long motorway journey later, with genuine frostbite. And if the cold doesn’t get you, the noise will. Any attempt at chat flags within seconds as the roar of the air-con drowns out all other sounds.

You know that business about out of the mouths of babes? Well recently, from the back of the car, my two year old grandson suddenly yelled: “turn the air-con off.” I tell you, that boy is a genius.

There is of course an alternative. It’s called opening a window. It’s the low-tech, environmentally sound alternative. It’s cheaper,quieter, altogether more sensible. I’m hoping it will catch on.

Just show a little dignity

Sometimes in life, the important thing, the only important thing, is to show a little dignity.

It matters. If you can keep your head while everyone around is behaving like a lunatic, then you are showing the world what we Brits are made of. You are an ambassador for the true spirit of our nation.

The thing to do is stand back, stay cool, don’t join in with the riotous rabble.

The trouble is, no one has explained this to the Brits on holiday in Benidorm.

Video footage shows them throwing their dignity, their clothes and everything else to the wind as they race to reserve sunbeds round their hotel pool. Usain Bolt could learn a trick or two from these people. They line-up with a focus and determination that leaves the world’s most famous sprinter looking like an amateur.

As the signal is given - the hotel staff actually shout “go” - the holidaymakers sprint towards their chosen poolside spot with a turn of speed that, frankly, belies their girth.

Once there they triumphantly throw down towels, T-shirts, small children - whatever is to hand, and prepare to guard their two feet of territory for the rest of the day. Before repeating the process the next morning.

These people have grit and determination and British pluck, but they are putting it to the wrong use.

It’s not pretty. It’s not clever. And it’s definitely not dignified.

Clare and Chris, I am missing you

Okay, time to come clean - I’m a big, fat fibber.

I said the Olympics were leaving me colder than that green diving pool, and I meant it at the time.

But then the cycling happened and I found myself staying up past my usual cocoa time to catch races I can neither spell nor pronounce. They were fun and stomach-flippingly tense - but that isn’t what I’m missing now it’s all over.

No, there isn’t a cycle-shaped gap in my life, but there is a massive gap where Clare and Chris once were. Clare Balding and Chris Hoy don’t sound like a match made in sporting heaven, but it turned out they were.

They dominated our evenings in the loveliest way for the duration of the cycling.They were comfortable, relaxed, pleasant, chatty and totally at ease with each other.

It was a perfect professional pairing and I’m just waiting to hear they have a show of their own.