Has anybody seen the devil? I'm his advocate. Some think I'm only playing at the role, but between you and me I'm pretty darned serious about this one – particularly in this next presentation, entitled Reasons to Hate Summer. I realise "hate" is a strong word, one that we're only meant to use for Hitler and late delivery men, but I feel if I'm not emphatic enough my point will get lost amid all the barbecue fumes and gay laughter.
I've lived with these controversial views for 22 years now, buoyed on purely by the belief that I can't be the only one who hates summer. Somewhere out there, I know there are more of you. You're all lying in darkened rooms with bags of frozen peas on your extremities, ignoring invites to picnics. And quite right too, but I'd appreciate it if you came out and revealed yourself for the purposes of this article. We could form a support group, where we meet in a refrigerated underground vault, eat shepherd's pie and wear massive jumpers. I'd like that.
The most obvious and basic of all summer downsides, I never understand why this doesn't put more people off. When you can't perform normal, day-to-day tasks like making a sandwich or sitting on a bus or blowdrying your hair without turning into a puddle of person, there is something wrong with the world.
What is the scent of summer? Freshly-mown grass, coconut sun cream, barbecuing burger suspended on a delicate breeze? Or is it, actually, when you really think about it, BO? And warm bin sack? And dog poo, slowly roasting on the pavement? Next time you're standing in a fat man's armpit on public transport, tell me honestly how much freshly-mown grass is wafting your way. (See also: sweat.)
Your own is a pretty negative experience, yes, but almost more distressing is the parade of other people's. The worst are the leather handbag ladies, whose deep-etched mahogany faces read like a poster saying "Melanoma? Is that a Delia recipe?" The second worst are massive bald shirtless men with pink-striped bellies, giving them the curious appearance of a processed seafood stick. And the third worst are sunburned children, of any description, because they trigger my transformation into Super Suncream Girl (saving the nation's skin one squirt at a time). I'm not sure if you've ever tried to apply Factor 30 to a strange child in public, but parents don't always take it in the helpful spirit it was intended.
4. The Calorie Contradiction.
Those of you who say 'oh, I only want a small salad when it's hot' can shut up; summer is really about over-consumption. That's why we have Magnums, and Aztec Gold Magnums, and White Chocolate Magnums, and barbecues and drinking beer at 11am in the garden. However, summer is also about looking like a wee slip of a thing in a bikini. It is about having the longest, leanest limbs in the whole park, and using strategic moments to do a cartwheel where your top falls down. I ask here that you spot the paradox, and take a moment to ponder the unfairness.
Here endeth the lecture. If you'd like to take a leaflet on your way out, I'll look forward to seeing you all in the vault for some knitwear action. Alternatively, buy my book – Lauren Bravo's Summer Loving*.