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Sunday, 14 August 2022

Drought

I usually photograph places where I’ve lived. Here is one corner of my room in Leeds in the summer of 1976. The washbasin was handy for peeing in as the toilet was on the floor below. Well, you can be like a slob when you live on your own.

What do I see? Towels strewn around. Swan electric kettle, toaster and fan heater on the floor. An anglepoise lamp I still have. The wooden book rack I made at school which I still use, containing books I still have. A naff set of biros designed to look like quill pens. A tiny nineteen-fifties transistor radio in front of the mirror on the edge of the dressing table … and in the corner on the floor some bottles of water.

Yes, we had a drought in 1976. It was one of the warmest years of the last century, not surpassed until this century. The highest temperature recorded was 35.9°C (96.6°F), not quite reaching 36.7°C (98.1°F) of 1911. The drought was caused by low rainfall the previous summer which lasted through the autumn and winter. By the autumn of 1976 water was rationed in some places by means of standpipes in the streets. My parents’ house had an infestation of seven-spotted ladybirds.

Could we be heading there again? I am no climate change denier, but despite the clear upward trend I hope that once we are through it we will have experienced an outlier, at least for long enough to see me out. As for my children, both still in their twenties, they could be well-advised to move to somewhere like Fort William, Portree, Stornoway or Kirkwall, preferably on high ground not too near from the sea.

22 comments:

  1. I missed the famous Summer of 76 entirely as I was working on a children's summer camp in Ohio where I am proud to say that I never once peed in a sink. Your penthouse flat in Leeds looked rather chic. Who was the designer?

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    1. Well, just one piece of advice if you are ever taken short by the urge. Don't do it over the dirty washing up.

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  2. I remember the first raindrops hitting the pavement in 1976. People talked to each other about it in the street.

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    1. Wasn't it immediately after they appointed a government minister for drought?

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  3. Drought is never good news and there are increasing amounts of it in our overheated world.

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    1. It's extremely worrying, Debra, but I would guess that most over a certain age are not going to be as troubled as those below who are likely to see some dreadful things happening around the world. I am one of the luck ones who "never had it so good".

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  4. My wedding was in June 1976. It rained on the day but then followed wall to wall sunshine from the next day onwards. Not much fun being sunburnt on your honeymoon.

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    1. We never seem to have the suncream when we most need it. What must people have thought overhearing a honeymoon couple shout "don't touch me there" at each other?

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  5. Lol. Quite an exchange of comments here!

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    1. Yes. Mr YP might be proud he's never peed in the sink, but I bet he does it in the shower.

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    2. Eh? We have got a tin bath like all the other posh people on our street.

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  6. Up above our town we have Gaddings Dam on the moor, it has a small sandy beach. People go up there to swim, unfortunately a herd of cows have taken over the beach with their young They loll about on the sand or stand in a Constable manner with their feet in the water. It is very funny.

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    1. I've seen Gaddings Dam on TV but never been. I'm not sure I'd want to swim with cows.

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  7. Typically cool and damp Stornoway sounds wonderful right about now. I've read recently about the 1976 drought, and I'm surprised the temperature "only" got to 96º F. We were six degrees beyond that just a few weeks ago!

    I like your groovy wallpaper. As for peeing in a sink, I'm confessing nothing.

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    1. Stornoway might warm up a bit in the coming decades and become a resort of choice. Things really have heated up a lot this century. Some might deny the cause, but you certainly can't deny the trend. The wallpaper came with the room. It was in a big house behind Leeds Parish Church once used to home trainee clergy and church musicians, but they'd have anyone who would pay the rent by the time I moved in. They kicked everyone out shortly after the picture was taken to redevelop the place into more expensive self-contained flats.

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  8. I remember that hot summer 76. I was 30 years old, where did the time go? Lol

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  9. I have photos of places I've lived, but they all have family in them so I can't show them.

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    1. In one or two places I actually went round and photographed the rooms.

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  10. Meike/Meks/Librarian here again, late to the party as is so often the case.
    I like taking pictures of rooms I have lived in, too, or at least where I have slept, even of the often banal hotel rooms when I used to travel for travel several times a year.
    Not sure I would have enjoyed the mix of patterns (wallpaper AND carpeting AND curtains AND upholstery) in your attic room - too "loud" for me.
    As for 1976, I was 8 years old and the summers of my childhood all feel hot and full of sunshine in my memory; not sure what that year was like in Germany.

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    1. I have sometimes photographed laces we've stayed on holiday, but not always.
      I'm going to try changing settings - at present, there is moderation on posts over a month old. I'll see if removing that removes the anonymous comment problem. The thing is that there seem to be so many different ways in which blogs accept comments.

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