• Kate Clarke

British Heatwave


In Maidenhead, at Heather’s flat, one rare, scorching summer -

swimsuits, a paddling pool in the garden under a drooping washing line.

She said: “We're going to the gas station to get ice cream, wanna come?”

“Yes. I’ll just put my dress on.”

“Oh, in Sydney we just throw a towel around and go like this – don’t you guys do that here?”


In Carmarthenshire, yesterday, I drove home from the beach in my bikini.

I felt like an Aussie. Sand on the seats, scuffed sandals, a happy mess.

The sound of the beach in late afternoon. It’s the thing we need, isn’t it?

It’s why we put ourselves through airports, with their hard-seat departure lounges, frustration, proximity, security.


That yipping spaniel will be outrunning those waves until dusk.

A football’s low thud, a little girl’s squeal, chatter from all directions softened by the breeze. And a steady rhythm track of waves. They move syrup-slow tonight. Too hot for speed, they loll and flop like a sulky teenager.


And how unbritish to forget any awkwardness about waking from a warm nap, fingertip-distance from strangers. Our sticky, dishevelled, half-naked state matters as little as our morning messiness, when waking next to a new lover.


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