When did "heatwave" cease to mean at least six weeks of unbroken, blistering sunshine? The BBC weather-girl last week insisted that "on Thursday there's going to be a heatwave, but by Friday storms will be moving in from the west", which, roughly translated, meant that "we're going to have one nice afternoon, but then it's back to the usual crap".
Anyway, I didn't want to miss the five-hour heatwave, so I headed down to the lake to do the family bit with my baby and dog. It was a nice park, meaning that the quality of flesh on show was more tanned and taut than down the road in Finsbury Park. All around us, nubile young women played Frisbee with Jude Law-alikes. There was a lot of giggling and rolling around. "They're playing tickling games," I explained to Alexandra, whose eyes were drawn to one couple writhing on a blanket. The pale blonde girl eventually resumed her sunbathing, leaning on her elbows and reading a book. She was wearing a thong and had taken her top off. She was slim and to all intents and purposes utterly - prettily - naked.
When the sun was at its hottest, a religious man in full robes sat between her and our old car blanket. He unwrapped a sandwich and looked out to the lake. Time and again, his head flicked to the girl and back to the lake. It took around ten minutes for him to inch his way around until he was blatantly staring at the girl's bare backside. At one point, as he raised the bread to his lips, he actually drooled on himself. When he got up and left, I felt relieved. I was unable to take my eyes off him while he couldn't take his God-fearing eyes off the girl's bum. It was gruesome, hideous, sleazy and absolutely compelling viewing. Here was an orthodox man utterly spellbound, religious beliefs jettisoned, in thrall to two round buttocks. What was he thinking? What was his life like? Was he married?
When he came back with an ice-cream, I gritted my teeth. He sat closer to the unsuspecting girl than before, and began salaciously to lick the cool, round globes. He rubbed the vanilla around his fleshy lips and finally, as he began to stroke the cone up and down, the spell broke. My daughter was toddling towards him. I jumped to my feet and, sounding uncannily like Joyce Grenfell, scolded: "That's enough. You've had your eyeful. Now go away!" He leapt to his feet and, without acknowledging me, scuttled off, grabbing one final, long look as he went.
That evening, the warm weather held. So it was off to another park. This time, a really posh one - Kensington Gardens. I felt a little out of place, walking up the spotless pathway and past the archery range. The couples here weren't frolicking, they were businesslike in their pleasures. The runners ran at a regimented rate, the young men in suits marched home, talking into the tiniest mobile phones. And couples were out walking some of the ponciest dogs I've seen outside Paris.
One man and woman were with a pair of skinny greyhound-things. When the male dog squatted to poo, there was a flurry of nervous activity from the lady. "Bag, bag, Daniel," she urged. He passed the bag. As the dog completed his bowel movement, she stood close, then scooped the poop efficiently into the bag. She shoved the steamy carrier into a pocket and with a tissue proceeded to wipe his bum. Yes, wipe it.
Up ahead, my friend was pouring Pimms for her other guests whose dogs were fighting (and pooing) normally. "Do you all wipe dogs' bums in Kensington?" I had to ask. "No." Then Lily asked if I'd remembered to buy a card or a present for the birthday boy. I hadn't, as I thought she'd been joking. It was "Terry" her dog's first birthday, and everyone one else had bought him a ball or a toy.
They may not roll around in the nude or ogle each other's bits in SW1 but, my God, they take their pets seriously.