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As readers in England will know, today is HOT – 26 degrees here in Cambridge.  (Readers in other countries will either be envious, or roll their eyes at how pathetic we English are when it comes to heat.)  This afternoon has long been pencilled in as “Plank time”, and I will admit that I didn’t much fancy going up to the back bedroom (where I do my Plank writing) and trying to travel back to Regency London.  But then I realised that I have actually been handed something of a gift.

Remembering being hot when you are cold is difficult, and vice versa.  But I already know that there were a few scorching days in the summer of 1826, and poor old Sam and Martha will have to live through them in “Plank 3”.  (Come on: I’d love to ditch the “Plank 3” and choose the proper title.  Please vote for your favourite!)  And when better to write convincingly about their discomfort than when I am sweating buckets myself?  After all, things were so much worse for them.  I’m sitting here in a light cotton summer dress; even at her most revealing, Martha had to wear several layers of petticoats and chemises and stockings to be decent.  As for Sam, imagine him in his thick woollen coat and trousers, even in the height of summer, with that high collar and heavy hat – for no man, even on the hottest day, could go bareheaded about his business.  If things become too sticky for me, I can pop into town and hang over the freezers in the supermarket, or sit in the air-conditioned lobby of a hotel or bank.  Such electric luxuries were decades away for the Planks.

So here’s my new resolution: if life gives me lemons, I shall write about making lemonade.  We’re expecting dramatic thunderstorms tonight – I wonder if I could work one into 1826…

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