Wednesday 1 July 2015

An English obsession

If, like me, you're older than you like to think you are, you might remember the summer of 1976, when the weather went a bit bonkers in Britain and for 12 consecutive days the temperature reached 32 Celsius somewhere in the country. It was the summer of the Great Drought.

Whitby's whale bone arch
This was the year in which I took my O-levels and after each one I came home and burned the associated school books. It never occurred to me that I might need them for a resit, and I certainly had no intention of taking A-levels. I hated school and I was off!

And off I went - all the way to Yorkshire, where my friend Steph and I worked in the West Bank Restaurant in Robin Hoods Bay, perched at the top of the village, for the whole summer. We lived in and worked all day, six days a week, with Saturdays off. Saturday was changeover day for visitors, so it was quiet. We would catch the bus into Whitby or Scarborough to spend our hard-earned money. Weekday evenings would be spent in the pub (we had no problem getting served: different times!), flirting with strangers (again, different times), and then we'd stagger back up the 1-in-4 hill home to bed.

A decade later, and with a new name
The restaurant was run by an American called Taylor, which at the time struck us as a very odd first name), and his wife Mickey, who was proper Yorkshire. She had been named after a racehorse, Mickey Finn, which had won the St Ledger. Just in case people thought this was an odd name for a girl, she had been given the second name of Stephanie. Given what some folk call their children these days, Mickey seems quite sane.

Eventually, the government decided something should be done about the weird weather and appointed Denis Howell as Minister of Drought. Sure enough, that solved the problem and three days later the heatwave ended in torrential rain and even hail in some places. Pity, really, because it was Bank Holiday Monday.


  1. Loved this post. I remember the red hot summer of '76 and the 'different times'. Perhaps your schoolbook burning raised the temperature a degree or two.😕