SWELTERING temperatures saw Croydon become a sun trap this week – but essential public services are already starting to wilt.
Ambulance staff saw a spike in call-outs while Croydon Council announced on Wednesday that binmen would do their rounds an hour earlier to avoid the worst of the heat.
The borough basked in temperatures higher even than tropical destinations, such as Barbados and Tenerife.
But, in a touch of normality, some of the highest temperatures were in the south, in particular the Surrey border town of Coulsdon – where the mercury crept to 32C.
Its Chipstead Valley area regularly records some of the hottest (and coldest) temperatures in the country, luring plenty of sun-worshippers when the Advertiser passed through on Wednesday.
John Peace, 67, and his wife were settling down to a pint outside at The Pembroke pub.
"I love the sunshine. It makes me happy," said Mr Peace, of Coulsdon.
"I like the sun whether it is hot or cold but I love it when it is hot.
"This is ideal. The guv'nor here asked me if I wanted the blinds and I said no."
His wife of 36 years, Marie, added: "I like it, but not as much."
Bus drivers Sally Whitehead, of New Addington, and Ron Mintrim, of Sutton, were having a lunch-break cool-down in the Valley cafe terrace, joined by their friend Linda Rawlins.
Ms Rawlins said: "I was saying the earliest I could remember was the heatwave in the seventies and I was studying for my exams, and it was too hot for me."
She added: "I don't mind the heat but it is just too aggressive at the moment."
Ms Whitehead, 46, said she was a tanning fan during lunch – but deemed the heat a menace at work.
"We don't have any air-conditioning on the buses," she said. "It is like a sauna in there."
Linda Warwick, from Coulsdon, was scuttling between her home and the shops under the midday sun.
She joked: "I am just coming to the shops and then I am going to go home and get undressed."
For Steph Hunt, a senior stylist at Charlie Brown hairdressers, the weather was the "perfect preparation for her holiday" – to Egypt.
And for others, being in a sunny destination lifted fortunes as well as spirits.
Ray Wookey, owner of electric bike shop Cycling Made Easy, said: "Funny enough, I don't think people are very keen on buying bikes when it is raining."A spokesman for London Ambulance Service said there was an 18 per cent increase in the most serious callouts last weekend. Paramedics attended 137 Category A cals to life-threatening incidents, compared to an average of 116 in June. Meanwhile, sweaty binmen persuaded the council to change collections to avoid the worst of the weather. The authority agreed to let crews start an hour earlier yesterday and today so they could avoid the oppressive heat. A spokesman for the council said this would continue until further notice.