Saturday, 5 June 2010

Sandals, sweat and sunscreen acne. Oh, good, summer's here.


It’s getting closer – you can see the signs seeping in through the cracked corners of your little world. That spring in the steps of the many as they saunter down the street; that extra little pinch of pep that whispers summer ...

Needless to say, I am not a summer person. I have no beef with the sun and all its lovely life-giving warmth. I like the flowers and the nature and things not being dead. What bothers me is excess; the sticky, dirty, clingy heat that plagues me between the months of June and September. The cancer-feeding UV rays can be a bitch as well, especially if you’re blessed with that kill-me-now skin type that’s simply begging to turn on you if you forget to reapply your factor 60 paste less than 38 times a day.

Yup, everyone hates sunscreen. Sure, I’m glad that it stops me from sizzling away in the sunlight, but why do they have to make it smell so godawful? All day, the sickly pseudo-coconut scent clogging up my pores and my nostrils until I can scuttle back home to a shower and safety.

If only the smell was the worst of it, but no; there’s the delightful way it greases up my skin, giving me the wonder that is sunscreen acne. Needless to say, when your face is quite literally melting all over the shop (and anywhere else you dare tread) makeup is not an option.

"All the sandaly, flip-floppy crap I’ve tried has always ripped my feet to blood and blister-ridden shreds."

Don a giant hat, search for the shady side of the street; it’s not enough. Clothing is a major issue, one that I’ve never managed to resolve. Like most winter folk, I like wearing lots of clothes. Liken it, if you will, to walking around in an almost duvet. If I could get away with sticking armholes in a sleeping bag, don’t think I wouldn’t have tried. It’s happening already; girls everywhere sporting their floaty dresses and sandaly shoes. I tried to go with it, pretend to be okay with all the summer stuff, sneaking into a shop and looking at all the vintage dress-shaped garments. No hope; all the patterns were hideous – and this is coming from someone who at one point aspired to a granny wardrobe of ugly flowery dresses. Instead I left the shop with yet another plaid shirt, only to encounter throngs of those annoying skinny girls prancing about in their little dresses. Or worse, those odd characters wearing coats – I swear they’re doing it just to mock me.

Footwear is the mother of all summer evils. As I’m sure you’ve guessed, I’m about comfort over aesthetics, so it’s trainers all the way. Sadly, they are not the best option in hot weather. And yet all the sandaly, flip-floppy crap I’ve tried has always ripped my feet to blood and blister-ridden shreds. Even the ones not made from plastic and whimsy. Yes, even those.

Which leads us to the trauma of transport. We can rule out the underground straight away – we all know how ghastly being crammed into a tube of moist, hot, and odorous bodies with no clean air, praying that the train won’t stop in between stations for a perilously long (ie, more than half a second) moment. Time does not exist underground; you have entered (albeit voluntarily) an abyss where time and hope are sucked out of your feeble existence until you are able to crawl out into the godforsaken sun once more.

Buses, I have discovered, are only fractionally less painful. Sure, you get to look out the window and know that the world outside still exists, but those dammed rays of burning heat beat at your fragile skin relentlessly. Added to this is the maddening way that the radiators continue to pump even more hot air at the half of your body that is below the window. I remember once, being stuck in traffic on a remorselessly hot day, and thinking ‘yes, this is actually hell’ (the fact that I was also on Streatham High Road is purely incidental).

And finally – the workplace. I spend my weekdays in a very windowy room, which is lovely for the precious, soul-soothing daylight, but also rather apt at creating something of a heat trap. To resolve this, we open windows and employ the use of a very, very loud fan. Or close the windows and try the air con (also not so innocuous sound wise). This makes communication somewhat of a mission, especially when answering the phone. I’d like to think I’ve mastered the art of guessing what people might be saying, but alas, this has proven not to be the case. I shall spend my free time scanning ads for telepathy lessons… and flights to (and jobs in) those mythical cold places I’ve spied on a map; the sort of place where people understand the pains of summer and get how it’s you guys and your weird sun worshiping ways who are the freaks, not me. No need to wish me luck, I have a good feeling about this plan ...

Read more by Sam.