Sweltering Londoners queue to enter the Serpentine lido – archive, 1932

The Prince of Wales is going to the Lido (Venice). If he had gone this afternoon to the Lido (Hyde Park) he would hardly have got in at all without joining the long sweltering queue of waiting would-be bathers. These people were typical of the thousands of Londoners who on this day of Italian glare and heat (87 in the shade) were making for water as anxiously as wild beasts make for drinking-pools in the jungle. The men in the queue were enduring it in the ordinary thick clothes. For nothing will induce Londoners to take to cotton clothes in a heat spell, but the women’s queue was gay with cottons and bathing-costumes. Many girls had come ready undressed and some were running about the paths or sitting under the trees in their costumes – a pleasing sign of the defeat of prudery by the thermometer. The only guardians of the proprieties about were one or two policewomen, suffering in their regulation uniforms, but nevertheless showing a womanly indulgence in dealing with the swarm of hot little boys and girls pressing into the children’s bathing-place.

One policewoman softened the rigour of officialism by obligingly holding a baby for a harassed mother. Her real job was to examine every boy to see that he had his bathing-costume both on going in and coming out, and her labours were lightened by the general practice of wearing the costume in place of a shirt to save time inside. Small boys pulled a bit of it out to convince her that it was all right in the manner of showing a ticket to a conductor.

The bathers had spread far beyond the confines of the Lansbury enclosure. All along the bank to the bridge (that was the stand of the jam-jar fishermen) you saw small creatures, who had been undressed by flurried mothers under the trees, rushing into the Serpentine. There was about half a mile of it, and a continuous squeal of delight as hot little bodies felt the cool delight of the water.

Channel swimmer, Connie Gillhead, in the Serpentine, recently opened for female swimmers under the Lansbury scheme, 1930.
Channel swimmer, Connie Gillhead, in the Serpentine, recently opened for female swimmers under the Lansbury scheme, 1930. Photograph: Planet News Archive/SSPL/Getty Images

Marks of identity
During the heatwave in this part of England a fairly large number of people have collapsed in the street and have either died or been taken to hospital seriously ill. It is reported by the London police that in a surprisingly high proportion of these cases it has been difficult, if not impossible, with a good deal of inquiry to identify the sufferers, as they had no papers upon them giving any names or details.

This has raised the question of whether it should not be a legal requirement upon every citizen to carry cards of identity of something to show who they are.

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