Admittedly the summers of 2020 and certainly the first half of 2021 are times that we could never have imagined before. But enough of that for now, what of better times and ages. when the seasons of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter were clearly defined by hot, cold, windy, warm. Nowadays any of these adjectives could be representative of any of the seasons.

Escape with me, and put on your rose tinted spectacles as I recall what it was like working in the hot, dry summer of 1976 in the family drycleaners in London. It was one of the hottest summers of the 20th century, and the word drought was frequently bandied about. While the temperatures outside were in 30-35C range, in our unit shop it was plus 40C. Air conditioning for drycleaners did not exist, but at least we had a powerful extractor fan. This was no help to the human occupants of the shop but I could swear to remembering seeing bumble bees on the outside of the vents riding the warm extracted blasts of air like some kind of air surfers from California. All they needed was a VW Microbus with a surfboard strapped to the top to complete the vision.

Despite the best efforts of the extractor fan, it was still so hot inside that condensation formed on the metal garment hanging rails and the droplets of water falling down sometimes resembled an indoor rain shower. Draughty, what draught? We would dry the rails with towels and in minutes they would be dripping again. This made it difficult to keep the newly cleaned, but not yet wrapped garments dry so we resorted to using polythene wrapped tightly around the rails so that hangers could still slide along.

As amazing as it seems now, and this really highlights the different era we lived in, our business customers would still be wearing their suits, shirts and ties and the City gents still wore their bowlers.

It was also a phenomenon back then in the days before pre-payment, especially in 1976, that the internal walls and shelving of our shop, like many drycleaners, disappeared under an ever-growing pile of duvets as people had no need for them in the heat and we became an unofficial duvet storage unit as they brought them in for cleaning and did not collect them for weeks. Pre-payment for duvets was brought in in 1977.

One very clear memory that I have in that hot summer of 1976 was when near closing time I filled a balloon up with water and waited outside the shop so that I could water bomb my Dad as he locked up. Now I know that in a drought this is not a good use of water but I was young. Anyway, it backfired on me as the weight of the water filled balloon meant that it sailed over my Dad’s head by several yards and landed on a very attractive young lady walking innocently along the pavement and it absolutely soaked her. Very luckily for me, she saw the funny side of things. I miss those days, and I miss my Dad more than all.