It's common sense over experts for me when it comes to heatwaves - Christa Ackroyd

The title of this week’s column is Common Sense. And after some of the happenings of last week, you could be forgiven for thinking there is not a lot of it about. I refer not to the Conservative leadership contest.

There have been various snippets of so-called news that have got me hot under the collar this week and that had absolutely nothing to do with the soaring temperatures. (Though never have I been as glad to see the rain as I was on Thursday. Gosh it was a warm few days wasn’t it?)

But let’s start with that shall we, the heatwave, which lasted all of a week and did not lead to hundreds, nay thousands, of us dying from heat exhaustion, as was predicted by some because guess what? We know, or at least most of us do, how to behave in hot weather. And that’s because, surprise, surprise, many of us have experienced it before and actually been abroad in temperatures equally as hot.

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What’s more we actually survived by applying not only lashings of sun cream but also a good dollop of common sense. Not everyone I grant you, but the majority of us. But no the media, and there were many outlets guilty of it, and the Met Office, tried to frighten us silly before the thermometers even started to rise. The warning was red. The advice stark. Stay inside at the height of the heat, keep hydrated, and use sun tan cream. Or you could die, lots of us.

A woman enjoying the recent hot weather in Leeds.A woman enjoying the recent hot weather in Leeds.
A woman enjoying the recent hot weather in Leeds.

I totally accept the need for calm advice, or a timely reminder, particularly about swimming in cold water and canals which sadly did see a number of tragedies as happens every summer, but did they have to deliver in tone and in message warnings of such dire consequences for what amounted to records being broken by a whopping half a per cent here or a whole per cent there? We knew it was hot, because we felt it was hot and actually far too hot for me and too hot for my dogs. But we survived by using, yup, common sense. We stayed inside, drank water and turned on the fans. And now quite frankly I am missing the sun, even if the gardens and water levels are not. Never happy.

Now let me turn to chocolate, which quite frankly was the last thing I fancied eating in a heatwave anyway. Scientists at Cambridge University I would imagine are pretty clever chaps and chappesses. Or are they?

Now in their wisdom they have tested what has been described as gruesome photographs, some relating to health issues some not, on the packaging of chocolate bars. And guess what? Fewer people fancied reaching for a Mars bar (other chocolate bars were available) as a result. You don’t say! Photographs of open heart surgery caused by obesity I sort of get. Though I don’t agree with them. But images of a dead dog in a road I fail to understand, unless it’s to do with the fact that chocolate is poison for dogs, but I doubt that was why it was placed there.

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The truth is, unlike cigarettes, chocolate is not poison to human beings unless you eat it in such large quantities that it makes you fat. And even then I suspect it’s not just chocolate that has led to serious weight issues but a totally unhealthy diet all round.

In fact a few squares of dark chocolate as I understand it is positively good for you.

But because more people in the experiment reached for fruit than chocolate it’s now advice from Cambridge University, no less, to the nanny state to slap on the death photos. Ridiculous.

Which brings me nicely around to fruit. And at last some common sense from good old Marks and Sparks. Good to see they at least haven’t forgotten their Yorkshire roots. They have decided to ditch sell-by dates on 300 fruits and vegetables, which let’s face it in the heat of last week were either wilting or ripening before our very eyes whatever the date on the packet.

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Unless, amazingly, we put them in a cool place, a fridge perhaps. That’s novel. The Co-op have also ditched sell-by dates on yoghurts, Morrison’s on own brand milk and others are expected to follow suit and leave us to do what our mother’s always did and use our eyes, our nose and even our taste-buds to determine what is still fit to eat, rather than throw away perfectly good food because we have been told it could be ‘off’ when it isn’t. Which I don’t and never have done.

Then there has been the much debated case of the headmaster in Heckmondwike who sent a pupil home for wearing shorts (smart shorts made out of old school plants ) instead insisting on school trousers on the hottest day of the year.

Compare and contrast the headmaster at Trinity Academy in Halifax who at first insisted on the same policy and then changed his mind and allowed pupils to come in logoed school PE kit because rather than applying maths or science he applied common sense. And backed down. It was hot. It was unusually hot, in fact, according to the experts, it was dangerously hot. And no matter whether a building is air conditioned or not pupils still have to walk home when it was scorching. So guess which headmaster I am backing?

And last but not least the suggestion that all alcohol should be sold in plain packaging after a survey of a whopping 50 people in Scotland who drank at least once a month because then we wouldn’t be tempted to drink too much because of pretty packaging.

Lord give me strength and a gin and tonic.

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You get my point, I am sure. The great thing about life is you learn common sense along the way. Not always and not all of the time. I can still hear my mum tell me I didn’t have the sense I was born with. But I like to think I have acquired some semblance of intelligence. And do not, never have and never will, need so called experts to tell me what is good for me, what is still edible to eat, healthy to drink or safe to enjoy. And I suspect you don’t either.