As the water companies start applying for drought orders, our thoughts turn inevitably to that long hot summer of ’76. I always think of it as the lager summer because we drank so much of it (the bitter wasn’t up to much in those days, in the average London pub). The Labour government responded to the endless blistering weeks of heat and the rapidly drying reservoirs by appointing dear old Dennis Howell, previously Minister for Sport (that shows just how important he was) as Grand Vizier for the Drought, or some such. And blow me, no sooner was he installed and told us all about heaving half a brick into the loo cistern, than the clouds gathered, the temperature fell and it rained for forty days and nights. Any more and he would have become Commissar for Floods as well.
Alas, he died a few years ago and is no longer available in our hour of need. Perhaps a few prayers lobbed in his direction might help us now. At least it has begun to rain again ( a few drops are pattering e’en as I pen these few words); maybe we will not need him to intercede for us, or perhaps he has already done so and is leaning back on his cloud, looking down with that famous grin and the knowledge of a job well done.