Not only did a signal failure cause what was an eight-minute journey to endure for one hour and half however, as rather rotten luck would have it, it just happened to be among the hottest times of the latest summer for a three hundred yearsago
Others sought desperately to reevaluate their distress by stripping to their underwear. 1 man, shirtless and possessed of a body that was the subject of much admiration and diversion among those with whom he had been trapped, took the unilateral decision to propel himself Tarzan-like in the windows of the carriage, holding onto two straps suspended from the ceiling as his feet pounded away at the glass, finally succeeding in providing some much valued ventilation for the sake of his long-suffering fellow passengers.
In other areas of the United Kingdom that the heatwave had a similarly profound impact on people upon whom it was seen, even if the answers weren’t always quite so extreme. Hundreds of people flocked into the Serpentine in London’s Hyde Park and turned it into a veritable lido, whilst others sought similar proximity in the fountain up the street in Trafalgar Square. Mothers queued with buckets at standpipes in the street as water supplies became more infrequent, with reservoirs and even rivers running dry. The government formally appointed a minister for drought, a Member of Parliament called for an investigation to stingy ice-cream parts that were supposedly being served by exploitative sellers and a physician memorably advised that adults ought to hydrate themselves with a wonderful pint of beer that was cool.
As if all this weren’t surreal enough, vast swarms of seven-spotted ladybirds – coccinella septempuncta into the anoraks – created their famished way inland, all 24 billion of these if official estimates were to be considered, sustaining themselves with the perspiration of people and biting anyone who resisted.
The long, hot summer of 1976 has remained the stuff of legend ever since. We’ve had warmer times, but never have we experienced such a long and unrelenting heatwave as we did in that year.
For those people who are old enough to look back with fondness – if it be the music, the large screen or some other part of popular culture to which we cling as we reminisce – it’s that great heatwave which always acts as a backdrop to our memories.