Hitting the Hundred

Summer is a-coming in, loudly sing cuckoo… Not here in Phoenix, where the cuckoo was recently found dead of heatstroke. For it may be only April, but the temperature earlier this week cruised past one hundred degrees Fahrenheit – to put that into perspective, it’s more than the highest temperature ever recorded anywhere in the UK (98.8F, in Cheltenham on August 3rd, 1990, fact fans).

We still have plenty of time for it to get even hotter, so some kind of survival plan has to be put into action now. “Not going outside for five months” certainly has its appeal, but I do need to leave occasionally, if only to stock up on supplies of black cockerels – I will shortly be embarking on a program of daily sacrificial rites, to appease the gods of air-conditioning and hopefully ensure there are no breakdowns. If that happens, I will climb inside the freezer and pull the door shut as an emergency measure, not coming out until the repairman has visited.

That might be some time – come summer, aircon engineers here in the Valley become like gods themselves, with all the fickle omnipotence that implies. Even at the best of times, people here have a tendency not to turn up when they should, so I dread to think how long we might have to wait for a repairman. To speed up the process, after two days, we’ll move in to the local mall; after three, we’ll recruit Chris’s elderly mother to pretend she has some kind of terminal illness; and after four, daughter Emily will be on offer as part of an incentive package. Both her and Robert have been heard saying how cold it is in the house: I sit there, in a pair of shorts and nothing else, and marvel at those who possess nuclear fuel for blood.

If I haven’t yet been out to experience the heat in the middle of the day, what I have encountered has been quite enough. Last night, went to the baseball, and was looking forward to seeing it in air-conditioned comfort, since the stadium here has a retractable roof specically for this purpose. But for some reason they didn’t close it – like a hundred degrees isn’t warm enough to merit it – and so the crowd were forced to swelter like 28,000 barbecuing T-bones. I should mention here, that Phoenix may be the only place you put steaks on the barbecue to keep them cool, and where “medium-rare” is achieved by waving the meat out of the window for thirty seconds. The idea of storming the swimming pool (yes, the baseball stadium has one of those too!) was highly appealing.

In addition, the stadium lights brought in every flying insect in the state – I kept expecting two small Japanese women to appear, and see Mothra circling lazily overhead. Speaking of lower life-forms, such inconveniences were minor beside the joy of taunting two opposition fans who were being particularly obnoxious, especially after their side jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first innings. By the end of the game, when Arizona had whipped Atlanta’s ass 13-6, virtually the entire section was, very pointedly, cheering in their direction for each home team hit. Ah, there’s nothing quite like taunting loud-mouthed, arrogant rednecks — at least, when you’re on your home turf, something which Steve Buscemi recently failed to grasp.

So the sun beats down outside, I hide inside, attempting to remain “pale and interesting”, and packing all my dark T-shirts away until October. A quick check of the paper reveals that the high in London yesterday was a mere 56F – guess you’re all still huddled round carcass bonfires to keep warm. Me, I’m off for my nineteenth cold drink of the day. I’ll cope…