Temperatures in Manchester are soaring.
My daily two mile lunchtime walks have become rather uncomfortable recently. Each lunchtime I stroll around the local area at a fairly fast pace, fuelled by decent equally paced music, in order to escape the stress of the office and give myself a smidgeon of exercise. Usually I arrive back at my desk refreshed and raring to go again.
With the recent heatwave, however, a brisk walk around the block in temperatures approaching 30 °C, I have arrived at my desk with sweat pouring down my neck, my shirt sticking to my back like glue and a slightly reddened and extremely sweaty face.
Nothing annoys me more than having to sit in an office in the traditional stuffy office uniform while the world outside bakes in beautiful weather.
Let’s face it, in the UK it is so rare to have consistently high temperatures that we are all possessed by a mad urge to leap out into the sun whenever we get the chance.
Yesterday, still reeling from my afternoon walk, I arrived home and wanted to make the most of the weather. I peeled my sodden clothes from my body, fumigated my shoes and hurled my underpants and socks into the linen basket, hoping that the sweat wouldn’t somehow animate them and allow them to run riot in my house.
After a quick cold shower, I waited for Mrs PM to return from work.
As soon as the door opened, I presented myself to her, dressed in a polo shirt and crisp clean shorts, attire that I rarely get a chance to wear in Manchester and usually only wear in Spain or more exotic locations.
“Let’s hit Manchester,” I suggested.
“Good idea,” she agreed and also changed out of her own office uniform.
Last month Metrolink opened a new spur from Manchester City Centre to East Didsbury and now it is extremely easy to catch a tram into the city centre, rather than having to catch a bus that takes ages. The bus is usually so slow that we have avoided the city centre but now the new tram system has opened it up to us.
A twenty minute tram journey and a short walk found us in the sunshine outside a bar in Spinningfields, sipping cold beer and basking in the sunshine alongside lots of other happy people enjoying the fabulous weather.
I felt like I was sitting in a city in southern Europe rather than a stereotypically grim city in northern England.
We decided to enjoy another beer in another bar before finding a restaurant.
Mrs PM suggested a bar that for their benefit shall remain nameless, even though I am tempted to name and shame them.
We strolled up to the bar entrance and noticed that two security men were standing outside, eyeing me suspiciously. As I approached one of them looked me up and down and shook his head.
“What’s the problem?” I asked.
“You’re dressed a little too casually,” he replied.
I stared at him incredulously. It has been many years since I have had to deal with this kind of ridiculous policy. In the past I have usually had considerably more beer and this has given me enough courage to dive into an argument with meathead bouncers, risking a good beating for showing the world how stupid they are.
This time, however, I was genuinely shocked into silence and, having only had two beers, didn’t have the alcohol fuelled courage to stand up to this man and his preposterous regulations.
Mrs PM seemed to accept his decision and walked away, gently pulling my arm to encourage me to go with her. She also knows how much I despise these petty policies and presumably didn’t want to have to wait around while I argued the toss with yet another symbol of overt oppression.
“What does he mean dressed a little too casually?” I finally spluttered, making sure that I was in earshot of my oppressor.
“I’m wearing a lovely polo shirt that cost as much as his bloody shirt and proper trouser-styled shorts. What the hell does he bloody well mean?”
I was annoyed. I was even more annoyed because Mrs PM, who would no doubt have managed to get into the bar with a skirt that was shorter than my shorts. My anger was fuelled even more by the fact that even at that late hour I was hot and flustered by the heat. I was still hot and had I been wearing trousers, I would have had to peel the things off my skin.
We found a pub that was quite content to let me cross the threshold with my slightly too casual look and I ended up spending the entire time in that bar moaning about bouncers, dress policies and sexual discrimination.
“If this had been Spain," I ranted, "I could have entered that bar with my head held high and not been thwarted by a stupid dress policy policed by MEATHEADS. And another thing – you’re skirt is shorter than my shorts and you can see more of your legs than you can my knobbly-kneed sparrow legs. That’s sexual discrimination, that is. I’ve a good mind to go back and show the world what a bloody idiot that MEATHEAD is. I’ve got a good mind to complain to the manager of that place. I’ve got a good mind …”
“Oh for God’s sake shut up!” said Mrs PM finally.
“OK,” I said, still fuming. I contented myself with watching the highlights of the Ashes to calm me down a little.
Afterwards we strolled to Chinatown and enjoyed a Chinese banquet in a lovely restaurant with one important policy – they did not mind me wearing shorts.
Today, I am happier about it and have now added that bar to the list of places to avoid. Sadly, Mrs PM likes the place so I am certain I will have to swallow my pride in the future and quaff some of their ale.
The good news is that today, the temperature is soaring and the outlook is fine. We are even going to have a barbecue tomorrow with Mrs PM’s mum (yes, that's right – a BARBECUE in Manchester!!)
Mrs PM's mum and her other half will be welcome through my door – even if they are both wearing shorts.