Capital summer or end of days?

9:05 pm on 8 December 2017

I saw something weird yesterday. It felt eschatological, like locusts and blood moons.

Starting from the left : Tamara Baker 16 year old, year 12 Wellington east ex Brooklyn. Havana Baker, 18, working at Early Childhood centre. Tevita Faletagoia, aged 18, studying at Uni Cantab.

Wellingtonians have been enjoying the sun, and ignoring the forboding feeling that this balmy weather portents doom. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

On the front lawn of Parliament, people were eating their lunch in the shade of a huge pōhutukawa. They were hiding from the sun. In Wellington.

On my way home, I passed a young woman with a skateboard in a bikini. Downtown. In Wellington.

Both sights made me wonder where I was. Maybe I actually live in Gisborne.

I'm slow to catch on. I should have seen something was amiss when the Capital hosted a cricket test without losing a single ball to squall or drizzle. It's unnatural.

Now, after eleven straight days over twenty degrees, and with more forecast, it's time to discuss coping strategies. We should be comfortable while we await the four horsemen.

West Indies captain Jason Holder out bowled off the bowling of Neil Wagner  First Test Basin Reserve, 2017

The Basin Reserve in Wellington was the sight of glorious sunshine, and not a bad spot of cricket too. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Having had a childhood in both Gisborne and Invercargill I have some practice at the extremes and have been asked to offer sage advice.

Given the 'end times' metaphor you might consider praying. Whether you pray for more or less heat may depend on whether you're responsible for water management. But remember, as Noah can attest, divine interventions can have uneven results.

In Africa, with a more cynical view of such interventions, they say to end a drought you should schedule an important cricket match. Been there - didn't work.

You could, like me, get a job in a windowless office, so you can avoid even being aware it's hot outside. (Yes, I can hear your tiny violins playing for me from here.)

Oriental Parade after the weather bomb, a man enjoys the sunshine after heavy rain and high winds

Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

My mother swears by a wet flannel against across the back of the neck, which does feel wonderful. But we can do better. Reporting for RNZ in India a few years ago I weaponised her technique, buying a floppy cotton hat and wearing it wet. I probably poured as much water on the hat as I drank. It steamed away like a kettle and acted as a radiator. I may have looked like I was on fire but I felt great.

If it gets really nasty and your brain threatens to melt into fondue you can experiment with holding an ice-cube against the roof of your mouth. That'll cool down your brain quick fast.

Many of my Gisborne childhood lawn games involved a hose, and getting very wet. Don't leave this level of joy only to children. Grab a hose, dance in a fountain, swim in your business suit. But remember, your regional council will get very grumpy if you decide to play with a sprinkler.

Counter-intuitively you might actually be better off if you move somewhere hotter. Hot towns are used to heat and design with it in mind. That's why they have all those shade trees up the street and verandas on every house. So, while no sane East Coast architect would ever put a kitchen facing the sun, in Wellington people with heat pumps have never conceived of using them for air conditioning.

And, following the tradition of all small, hot, New Zealand towns you could retreat your dress sense to the ugly but practical 1970s and go to work in a sharp pair of walk-shorts. The long socks are optional.

To really wrestle the joy from it, you could, as one Wellington brewer did yesterday, pack in work, make a sour-beer and vodka slushy and head to the beach. Walking is probably safest.

Oriental Parade after weather bomb

Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Practically speaking, you should certainly buy a roof-rainwater tank, and stock up on malaria medication; for example gin and tonic.

And eat ice cream, or even better gelato. Lots, and lots of it. It's practically medicinal.

One MP cheekily pointed out this week that it hasn't rained since the government changed. Whether that's good or bad is a matter of perspective, but it's obviously causative.

"Now is the winter of our discount tents, made glorious summer by this daughter of Mount Albert;" or something like that.

And finally, in case of emergencies (like a lack of Pimms):

Strawberry Soda Recipe:

  • 1-2 crushed strawberries per tall glass (the on-trend can refer to them as smashed)
  • 50mls lemon juice
  • Sugar water (i.e. some light syrup, how light depends on your diabetes desire)
  • Top up with soda and ice cubes
  • Sip and sigh deeply

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