Auden had it right: we seek comfort where we can, even amid calamity | Nick Cohen

The weather and the World Cup gave us blessed respite from the Brexit debacle

If you could shade your eyes from the glare, the long, stupid summer of 2018 was a joy to live through. The sun shone for months on end, as if Britain was not leaving the EU but moving to southern Europe. England’s footballers tore up their history of failure and to the astonishment of the nation reached the semi-finals of the World Cup. Consumers with stagnant incomes were inspired by the heatwave to somehow find the money to pour into pubs and restaurants.

Barbecue sales at garden centres were up by a fifth. Bottles of rosé and sparkling wines shot off the shelves. “My suppliers have run out of Strawberry Split and Rocket lollies, despite stepping up production,” said Paul Field, an ice-cream seller from Berkshire. He wasn’t complaining because he had never seen a summer like it. “If I park the van outside my home, and pop in to get something, I come back to a queue.” For a moment, it seemed as if a shortage of CO2 would cause beer production to stop, but the crisis passed, leaving the press free to consider whether the heat made men’s penises bigger. (“There’s a reason people don’t take honeymoons to the North Pole,” a coy “sexual health expert” told the Mail.)

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