The other day, I just about lost it. There I was, absent-mindedly standing in my kitchen and looking out of the window, when I saw them. Just hanging there, casual as you like.
I spotted them tucked in amongst all the greenery and got a sudden wave of excitement. I love autumn. OK, so according to the Met Office it doesn’t officially begin until September but hey- this summer has been a bit of a washout and it’s already August so we’re pretty much on our way there. There’s something about feeling that first chill of the new season that carries such an air of expectation. Unlike summer, which is only really notable by days getting a bit longer, you can definitely pinpoint autumn coming around. You can see it in the changing colours of leaves, you can feel the drop in temperature. Autumn brings Hallowe’en, bonfires, scarves, pumpkin everything, things white girls get overly excited about. The best thing about autumn, though? It means the end of summer.
Call me a party pooper but I am not the biggest fan of summer. When everyone else is rushing to spend time outdoors, to clutter up parks and don shades and go taps aff, I’m cursing the sweat pool forming down my back, struggling to feel comfortable in t-shirts and vests and shirking away from the intense glare of sunshine. I love a road trip- Ally and I usually make a point of finding a hill to climb or abandoned ruin to explore- but it comes at a price. Driving in heat is the utter worst though: no matter what direction you’re heading, it’s always directly into the sun. Don’t get me wrong, a bit of sunshine on holiday is great (or it would be if I ever took the notion to book a beach holiday). However there’s just something about Scottish (or British, I guess) summer time that has that sticky whiff of awfulness about it. Here’s a few reasons why…
The Unrelenting Humidity
In Scotland, we rarely get sweltering heat. That means that when the mercury hits about 20 degrees everyone loses their collective minds. Every day where the temperature tips over that of the average room, the tabloid media proclaim it to be the hottest one on record and every single damn one feels like it. The air is stifling, the sun seems to find you even in the shade and everything involving movement becomes more of a chore. Most of the time, there’s not even any escape indoors because there’s..
No Air Conditioning Anywhere
I live in a tenement flat which was built sometime in the early 1900s. I love this type of flat for so many reasons: high ceilings, big rooms, cornicing, fireplace surrounds, a general sense of character. There are a few aspects in which they’re lacking though- we don’t even have double glazing, never mind air conditioning. I also work in a 150 year old converted church building. These are buildings which take huge amounts of time, energy and money to even maintain, never mind cool down. On a hot day, there’s nothing you can do but just tie your hair up and pray for a quick shift.
This is literally never as fun as stock photos make it look. If they were to be believed, summer dining al fresco is always full of rosy cheeked couples laughing at salads and passing food over a mysteriously perfectly laid table, or getting together to fire up the barbecue. There’s never any jovial images of the realities of swatting wasps and midgies away, other park dwellers punting footballs into your pieces and having to abandon the smouldering mound of coal because there’s a cloud gathering. Plus every year at least one person makes a hilarious quip about vegetarians at a barbecue. I’m eating a burger same as you mate, leave me be. In saying that I might just be bitter because, as a November baby, I’ll never have a birthday barbecue and it’s always stuck in my craw a bit.
The Reality Of Beer Gardens
OK so I’m not that much of a killjoy. I love the idea of drinking outside. It’s not something we can do (legally) in Glasgow so I’ve been known to take full advantage when I cross over to the other side. Have you ever seen a Glaswegian in Edinburgh on a sunny day? Just a few months ago Bee and I spent a pretty much perfect afternoon sunning it in Prince’s Street Gardens enjoying a beverage inthe form of pre-mixed Marks and Spencer caipirinhas (because you can’t go acting like a Merrydown tramp when you’re in Edinburgh, that’s just playing up to stereotype).
Beer gardens, though? That’s a different matter. I like a beer garden in theory- like, have you ever seen a TV advert for cider? They paint a pretty inaccurate picture of what your standard city centre beer garden is actually like. Much like barbecue adverts, people seem to find cider hilarious. Advert beer gardens are always set at that perfect golden hour of sunshine that only exists in English villages. Up here though, not so much. You end up rammed into a glorified smoking area, a concrete prison yard with pastel painted picnic tables and ironic bunting. And, again, you’ve got to tan it while you can before the rain comes on.
Summer clothes make me feel uncomfortable. Every part of my body seems to expand, meaning that all the floaty blouses cling awkardly to the wrong bits. I don’t suit maxi dresses- they just look like some pastel print tent tied desperately around the waist. I don’t think I quite suit a summer palette either: tropical and neon print and leaves on everything have never been my bag. There seems to be some unwritten rule that as soon as the temperature hits double figures, women everywhere dig out short shorts and vest tops and men think it’s OK to expose their wiry pigeon chests, their wayward nipples following you around the room no matter what angle you’re looking from. I’m not saying this with the intent of body shaming, you understand- if you feel confident in something, go ahead and wear it. But as well as being impractical, summer wardrobes are so boring: usually dictated by ‘boho’ or ‘festival chic’, teaming floaty skirts with floral headbands and cowboy boots or cutesy sandals. Did no one see footage from Download or Glasgtonbury this year? Ain’t no cowboy boot or cutesy sandals gonna keep you safe from trenchfoot. Which leads me to…
I hate them. HATE. I hate that ‘fwap fwap fwap’ sound. As much as I hate to admit it, if you’re a man and you wear flip flops in place of actual shoes, I’ve probably already lost a little bit of respect for you. As for the ladies, I have one question for you.
These fucking shoes. Why?!
The ‘hilarious’ spoof news headlines, endless tweets and Facebook posts about a “mysterious orange ball” being spotted in the sky. They need to die. That orange ball? It’s called the sun, it’s there literally every day, and you can away and go join it if that’s your patter, ya rocket.
As I type this, it’s darker than it has been at this time. There are oranges and blacks and maroons seeping into high street shops, and there are a mere three weeks until the official onset of British autumn time. There is, apparently, talk of a heatwave yet to come. I might just stay inside, draw the curtains and get through all the shows I’ve been meaning to binge-watch and the books I’ve been meaning to read. See you on the other side, preferably among the crunchy leaves.