Saturday, September 10, 2011

Early September and the kids start school

Today my boss was talking to a customer about how underwhelming this summer has been when she said
"You know it's probably not true, but I always remember when we were kids the summer being really warm and sunny all the time." For the past few months my host parents have been periodically apologising to me for the poor weather of the last few months. There was a moment last weekend when people started using the phrase Indian Summer (over-optimistically, it turns out), but for the most part this summer has been fairly cool and grey. And I haven't minded one bit. Until now. When my boss said that I realised Australians are incredibly lucky. Because what for many people is only an idealised fragment of memory is an annual reality for us. My summers have all been hot and sunny; they've been spent lazing on the beach and wearing slightly stiff, salt-encrusted clothes; I've fought valiantly but ultimately vainly against sunburn for 20 years, and never fully recognised that this kind of summer is the stuff of daydreams for millions.

The thing is, I don't even like Australian summers. In fact, I spend most of my time sweaty and red, refusing to go into direct sunlight between the hours of 10am and 4pm and wishing desperately for winter. And I honestly believe when England does manage to turn on the sun that summer here is infinitely more enjoyable than the antipodean version. London summer means 26 degree heat, picnics and Pimms.

So why this rush of false nostalgia for a season I moved 12,000 miles away to escape? Well, for one thing I accidentally started listening to this song again, an event that coincided directly with the beginning of warmer weather back in Aus. I got the chance to wear shorts and a tee-shirt about once, and sundresses sans-stockings maybe three times in the past three months. So the influx of facebook statuses celebrating the changing weather has made me - loathe though I am to admit it - a little jealous. Plus the kids have gone back to school, and routine has returned, lending my life a degree of normality I haven't experienced in several weeks. And so until leaves start falling and bonfires start blazing, my day-to-day is in the doldrums, giving me plenty of time to think about what I'll be missing as I skip out on the Australian summer.

1) Bare legs. Complain though I might about the need to shave on a bi-daily basis, it is really nice to walk around with nothing on below the mid-thigh region. I swear, I didn't think it was possible for my skin to become paler, but after 9 months of almost constant coverage my legs are practically transparent.

2) Beer. I don't understand. The British are a technologically advanced, reasonably civilised society (if you ignore Essex). So why, Why, WHY haven't they mastered beverage refrigeration? Pints might trump schooners and the Brits might do pubs better than any other country in the world, but drinking lukewarm beer can't hold a candle to a cold one fresh from an esky after a long hot summer's day.

3) The beach. This isn't restricted to summer, because I love the beach all the time. But I will miss jumping out of bed, racing to the sea and swimming for a blissful half hour before the beach becomes overrun by tourists and UV rays. Not to mention the brilliance that comes of combining the beach with the aforementioned chilled long-neck.

4) The sun. London might not be far north enough to experience 24 hours darkness, but it's close enough. The sun rises late, sets by 4pm, and spends most of the intervening hours cowering behind heavy cloud cover. It's enough to give a person SAD. And I don't even like the sun.

5) Storms. Summer storms are brilliant. So wild, so refreshing, so satisfyingly brief and brutal. The weather here is so weak-willed in comparison.

6) Fresh fruit. Oooooooh god mangoes. What I wouldn't give.

In reality I doubt I'll miss much of anything in two months, when everyone in the southern hemisphere is complaining of 40 degree heat and I'm warm and cosy up here in the north, with my big winter jacket and underfloor heating to keep out the chill of the English winter. But if anyone wants to send me a copy of the latest Hottest 100 in January to remind me what I'm missing out on, then I wont mind enduring a little jealousy. But only a little.

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