If winter is about hibernation, autumn about Back to School, and spring about new life and cleaning things, then for me summer is characterised by the perpetual, nagging feeling that everyone else is somewhere else, doing something exciting without you.
Particularly so with the British summer, where all normal tasks must be suspended in case the last of the sun is suddenly used up while you’re doing them. I’ve started experiencing Summer Guilt, whereby during everyday mundane activity, like queuing in HSBC, I am suddenly tortured by the feeling I am wasting the weather and should instead be drinking Pimms in a leafy beer garden with a man who looks like Javier Bardem. I’m letting the side down, I know. If you promise it will go no further, I’ll even confess this: I haven’t been to a single barbecue yet.
I suppose the truth must be that I live in fear of intervention from the Summer Police – that Ben Fogle or someone will break my door down, screaming, “Watching the Top Gear with the curtains closed, are we? Quick, get up and go do Tai Chi on a hilltop! NOW, before it all stops for another year! Go!”.
But it is especially true when living in London, where, in the absence of sea, countryside or draught cider for less than a remortgage, we are forced to create our own little pockets of pretend summer to distract us from the traffic, tourists, and lingering smell of feet in every tube carriage. You lot are ok, you have bonafide British summertime on your doorsteps. I don’t remember every having Summer Guilt in Worthing – everything you do is accidentally summery. Anytime you’re not getting your proper fill of sunshiney holiday fun, all that’s needed is a casual stroll past those palm trees by the Lido and you’re topped up for another week.
But here I have to go out of my way to do the weather justice. Like yesterday, for example, when I went to Hampstead Ladies’ bathing pond. That’s right, pond. And that isn’t a quaint urban re-branding, like when we call any part of the city without a branch of Subway a ‘village’, that’s an actual, genuine pond. Green water, ducks swimming, disconcerting brushes of animation against your knee when you least expect it. It was like swimming in a pre-Raphaelite painting; like being a host of otherworldly water nymphs (albeit water nymphs in a selection of M&S tankinis). It was summer to the max.
I feel then, that I am now justified in sitting here, watching Top Gear with the curtains closed, because there is pond slime in my hair. Next weekend, if I just stand with sand between my toes for several hours, I should keep the summer police happy enough for whole days of bank queuing. Just promise me this: next time you’re all enjoying a casual barbecue on Goring Gap of an evening, send me a postcard won’t you?
* * * * * * * * * *
Rupert Grint had swine flu! Everybody’s favourite teenage wizard (sorry Radcliffe, but you know it’s true) is recovering from a “mild bout” of everybody’s favourite pandemic disease. Far from being worrying, this is actually a pretty encouraging story. I particularly like the words “mild bout”, which I am using as evidence to support my theory that actually, I may have had swine flu already and just not realised it (after all, what do I drink so much Berocca for if not to get my immune system in such good shape that I can have swine flu without knowing it?). Presumably a quick administering of the Tamifluiarmus charm set Rupert on the road to recovery.
* * * * * * * * * *
And so, Wimbledon is over for another year. I’m sure you can sense my pain. My two most exciting moments from this year’s competition: 1) finding out that Andy Murray and Andy Roddick are not, in fact, one and the same person. 2) The woman seated behind Pete Sampras’ head during the live coverage of the men’s final, whose blouse buttons came undone on screen, and were not done up again for at least 20 minutes. Folks, I’m practically a sports fan.