The current heat wave in much of Europe was predicted. Governments dispensed advise. People took measures. Most go about their business showing bare arms, lovely legs; bare more.
Many schools, firms, factories introduced special rosters. Demands from employees to be allowed to wear more suitable clothes, than the obligatory suits, hit the headlines.
Some councils and companies lifted strict measures about what was considered to be acceptable outfits. No ties required for the time being. Showing a bit of bare arm or leg – usually till the elbow or knee – was fine. After all: heat wave is heat wave.
Others are less flexible. They continue to expect employees to turn up wearing suits or uniforms more appropriate for the average spring or autumn weather. Not much help, in sweltering heath. In many parts of Europe, temps of over 40C in the shade – at noon – are no exception.
Of course, such strict companies and councils allow female employees to wear dresses or skirts covering the knees. Blouses or shirts with short sleeves are sometimes okay.
But shorts? Shorts never are!
In Nantes, one company remained deaf to all its employees’ requests to be allowed to wear kits still looking neat, yet helping them cope with the close to 50 degrees Celsius they work in.
Did union members demonstrate? Sure!
But not by staging protest marches, weaving banners, shouting slogans, blocking Nantes’ streets.
In Nantes, bus passengers are treated to a sight, which would not raise an eyebrow in Scotland. Bus drivers show up appropriately kitted out. They are still wearing decent outfits – but manage to show some leg.
In playful actions, the bus drivers combine their uniforms with skirts. Not too short! The kind female employees are allowed to wear.
Right chaps! Clever action! Liberté, égalité, fraternité – for all! Show those shapely legs! Keep it up till shorts are allowed!
After all: at King Louis XIV’s court, showing shapely legs while wearing iffy shorts was no problem. Napoleon had himself painted as Consul wearing short capri pants. So what’s the problem with combining neat blouses with decent shorts during French heat waves?