Here in England we have known many dud summers, half-summers where the sun never really shone, where barbecue parties were rained off, where you look up to see iron grey skies and your flip flops and shorts hang about in the wardrobe redundant. So you fly away to The Mediterranean and you feel miserable to have inherited a climate that is so unkind. But this summer we have already known the extended honey warmth that we knew in 1976 - long hot spells where the grass turns yellow-white and cats nestle under ferns to stay cool, where the temperature gauge soars in the afternoon into the high thirties and barbecued meat with salad seems the best meal to eat.
This evening I donned my shorts and flip flops as soon as I got home, took a bottle of Holsten Pils from the fridge and read the local paper on our beautiful new decking. The headline read "Inferno" and the lead story was all about the massive conflagration at Sheffield's biggest bakery - Fletcher's. It's near where I work. The fire began on Sunday morning but thirty six hours later the bakery was still belching out evil smelling fumes. A mile away when I got out of my car, I could feel the acrid smoke in the back of my throat. Lord knows how it must have been for local residents on Sunday afternoon with windows closed, sheltering indoors on the hottest day of the year.
So I made the evening meal. Shirley and Ian are always late home on Mondays. Frances was with friends in the park and then on to a barbie. I made mince rissoles with rice and broccolli and ciabatta bread warmed through in the oven. Boris the cat strolled into the scene from his mysterious daytime wanderings. There were swallows in the sky and my gang of cheeky sparrows busying themselves around the bird table. The sun beamed down. It was all so simple and so ordinary and so easy to dismiss and yet there could come a time when I might look back on an evening such as this one and see it as the summit of my life, the very zenith of my happiness. Health, family, good food, security and the sun shining - what more should we ask for?