And here it is…I give you…Summer. Ta da! After a couple of false starts, it finally feels as if the rain is over and summer can begin. Brighton certainly thinks so. On the way back from the school run, I saw people with towels under their arms, walking towards the sea like zombies, pre-nine o’clock. What is this? The Med?
You can’t knock the dedication of the sun worshippers. These are the girls and boys, who know that they can strip off and lie on a beach in a bikini or shorts all day, reading a book, or lying with headphones on, just simply looking great. They make the art of doing nothing seem not only impossibly glamorous, but blissfully effortless too.
I never been one of those people.
Don’t be fooled by the sun-worshippers. In my experience, of all the seasons, the summer bills itself as the most effortless, but is actually the most effort. And once it starts, there’s no respite from barbeque preparation and beach trips.
And there’s personal effort required, too. Whilst everyone else is oooh-ing and ahh-ing at the weather, the bikini season fills me with dread. I always think that when summer hits, I’ll be ready. I’ll be waxed, tanned and sorted with funky little skirts and tops, but it never happens. The sun comes out and Bam! I go into a full-scale panic. That denim mini-skirt? With these legs? You’ve got to be kidding.
Then I go through the guilty stage and start muttering to myself: Why didn’t I go on a diet when it was raining? I could have been to Pilates, yoga three times a week and now it’s too late, because any second now I’ll have to expose upper arms. Thighs even. Eek!
I scour women at the school gates. Oooh, she’s got nice Birkenstocks. Are Havaiana flip-flops still in? Why is she wearing that T-shirt and not sweating? Actually, why is nobody apart from me sweating?
It’s not the stripping off thing that worries me about summer. Don’t get me wrong, I like nice weather, but during the day I’m indoors working and looking at it through the window. Nobody talks about it because we’re supposed to be happy, but looking out at nice weather, when you’re too busy to be in it, is slightly depressing.
No doubt, I’ll do what I usually do and pluck an old favourite frock from the cupboard and hit the English Riviera in my large sunhat and shades, assuring myself that it’s OK, because you get all sorts down on the beach. There’s even some whiter than me. Besides, it’s hardly a fashion parade, when a beach trip is a military operation with three kids and a husband in tow.
Within minutes of arrival, I have replicated what looks like crash site as the kids strip off. Then I field-marshal multi-directional questions, delving to the bottom of my bags for sun cream, hats, jelly shoes and swimming costumes. In seconds they want sandwiches, drinks, crisps, then it gets chilly and they all want jumpers and towels.
As the carnage spreads and my entourage race around with pots of sea water and squirty water guns, and slimy sea-creatures for me to examine, the tanned girls in their skimpy bikinis and little towels usually leave. I should feel sorry for them, but I don’t. Go on, love, that’s it. Go and read your book in peace. Skinny cow.