Prague is wilting. Although summer is short and precious in this part of the world the present heat-wave with temperatures around 33 degrees Celsius appears to be more than most people can cope with. There has been a mass exodus from the city to country cottages, the embankments of the Vltava river are crowded with swimmers and breweries are working overtime to meet demand.
People on trams and buses complain about the heat and give each other advice on how to best survive a day at the office. Those who work in offices without air-conditioning get extra water supplies for free. Bankers are taking off their suits and people in uniform are complaining that it is almost impossible to get through the day. Judges are said to be fainting in their heavy robes and TV anchors admit that under the news-desk they are wearing shorts and have got their feet stuck in a basin of cold water. A considerable part of the prime time evening news is devoted to reports about people collapsing from dehydration, the sales boom in electric fans and air-conditioners and interviews with meteorologists about whether this kind of weather is "normal" and for how long it may be expected to last.
According to latest reports even animals at the zoo are taking the heat badly. One of the elephants has refused to come out into her open enclosure for three days - a sure sign that things are not looking good. The eyes of the nation are on the country's meteorologists and the weather forecast is as closely watched as the coalition talks which should produce the next government. And, just as there is no sign of a government on the horizon, there appears to be no sign of cooler weather. Meteorologists have monitored the weather since 1775 - and a forecast based on a comparative study suggests that we are in for another month of tropical heat. I'm in the minority here so I have to say this quietly - things just couldn't be better!