Monday, 28 June 2010

No, we will not be frollicking in the park, thanks

I so agree with Sam: summer is so difficult. I really cannot be doing with it. For starters, it’s too hot. It’s TOO HOT. How am I supposed to function when it’s like this? Oh yes, I’m supposed to eat silly too-cold food, wear silly clothes that look like underwear, and I’m supposed to do a lot of silly lounging around in public areas.

Forgive me, but if you sat about on a bench in winter, just lounging, even on your day off or on a bank holiday, you’d be distinctly frowned upon. People would think you were a tramp, frankly. But when June rolls around, the whole of Britain suddenly has twice as much time and starts lolling about eating 99s or freeze-pops (or, if you’re posh and called Sebastian or Tilly, strawberries and bubbly). And everyone’s suddenly spending four hours spreadeagled on a lawn, as though hot weather gives us a licence to to behave like we’re at Glastonbury. (Don’t even get me started on Glastonbury – or festivals, generally.)

I am just not someone of sunny disposition. Not by any stretch. I get a buzz from heavy rain, especially when it starts with that end-of-the-world-ish darkening of the sky and then – KABOOM! Fantastic! I like being inside, see, either all curled up with a paper or book or something, or at my desk. I actively choose that sort of indoorsy lifestyle at all times of the year, so it’s not as if any so-called ‘bad’ weather’s going to get in the way of my life. If anything, bad weather helps me function.

So, when TV weatherpeople start warning us in their pretend-sad voices to ‘carry an umbrella’ or ‘remember to pack the fleece this weekend’, I don’t react in the way we’re supposed to. I don’t feel remotely disappointed that I won’t be able to skip off to the park and eat lollies, wearing flip-flops and later cooing ‘Ooh, typical me, I’ve caught a bit too much sun’. Instead I think: perfect, I’d prefer to stay inside anyway, and now I’ll get that rainy-thunder soundtrack that I have actually considered buying on a CD because I love it that much.

Those inevitable invitations that come flying at you from all sides at this time of year, to go and relax in your bikini in a park on a Sunday afternoon, just because we can, are awfully hard to say no to – you just end up sounding like a total happiness-hating freak.

And if you start to address your reasons for not joining in, you come across all repressed and awkward. Try confessing to any of the following: I feel uncomfortable sitting on a lawn for that many hours because I tend to get lawn bum and lower back pain; I don’t know how to arrange my legs without ending up lying down completely which seems quite anti-social; I don’t like using public park toilets; I get squinty in the sun but don’t like it when everyone wears sunglasses because that inhibits my reading of facial expressions; all my summer trousers are white and they’ll get grassy; I’d rather have a normal lunch at home than eat silly dippy-sticky food I would never normally choose.

Exactly! If you say any of that your friends just laugh at you – believe me, I’ve tried – and make withering, superior comments such as ‘Oh, you really don't know how to live, darling.’ So you end up having to make lame excuses or pretending to be busy, all the way through to the end of summer when everyone comes to their senses and realises they’ve been lying about in public wearing garments that are not actually, when you think about it, any more decent than a BRA AND PANTS.

Then, as a windswept Peter Cockroft (someone bring the poor fellow down from the BBC London roof, for goodness’ sake) strains to warn us that the nights are drawing in, I shall light the candles, pour a glass of blood-red wine and growl happily, ‘shut that door’. Read more by Maddie.