Ahhhhhh! Is there anything more glorious than a British summer? The intrigue, the confusion, the unpredictability. Sadly, other countries have to suffer the unfortunate condition whereby they endure months of uniform heat and sunshine. Now how is that supposed to keep you on your toes and form character? No, give me the UK summertime any day with it’s biting winds, sudden sleet and lobster red participants. And when you do luxuriate in our finest of seasons, keep your eye out for these idiosyncratic happenings.
DOGS OUTSIDE PUBS DRINKING WATER FROM FRAY BENTOS TINS
Some locations have their palm trees, tranquil lakes and unusual insects. But I challenge you to find any other country that has so many hot dogs standing in the street noisily lapping water from an oven-baked pie tin. It brings a lump to the throat every time you witness it, especially if it’s a labrador.
BUSINESSMEN LOOKING CONSPICUOUS AS THEY EAT SOLEROS
Some things just look out of place when wearing a suit. Limboing. Deep fat frying. And, of course, eating luxury ice lollies. But once the temperature hits a certain point, you simply have no choice except to duck into a newsagents and avail yourself of a Magnum, Funny Feet or Solero. And if you are over forty and wearing your finest business togs, it never looks quite right. And they know it.
PEOPLE ON PUBLIC TRANSPORT FANNING THEMSELVES WITH TRAVELCARDS
In some countries, where high temperatures are the norm, public transport bows to the tyranny of air conditioning. Ludicrous! Yes, they have far less old people and pregnant women sprawled out at the bottom of the stairs afflicted by heat exhaustion, meaning you have to clamber over them to get a seat. But what is there to talk about? Certainly not the violent, potentially lethal heat, which is the major topic of conversation on every bus, tram and funicular from May to October. I pity them.
TOPLESS MEN IN THE LIBRARY
Some people, who sadly live abroad, think that we Brits are inhibited. Repressed, unemotional and buttoned-up. But if they visited during the summer months they’d see a citizenry who revel in completely inappropriate levels of nakedness, especially in areas of high occupancy. Supermarkets, clinics, furniture showrooms and churches: all will see the back, flank and shoulders of overweight middle-aged men wearing only Primark shorts and a smile.
WATCHING AN OLD FILM OUTSIDE IN A MUDDY CAR PARK THROUGH DRIZZLE
America thinks it’s so clever with their ‘drive-in movies’. But up and down this great nation during the summer months, you will see classic movies screened outside at castles, historic buildings and stately homes, for the entertainment of the local population. In fact there’s a whole host of external activities including country fairs, bandstand concerts and theatrical productions, all bravely enjoyed through lashing, painful rain and shin-high in mud.
FOUR MEN ANGRILY BLOWING ON A SPLUTTERING BARBECUE
The second that the final frost of spring melts away, we dust off the grill, drag the briquettes out of the shed and dig through the freezer for some dangerously out of date meat. Barbecue scientists have recently revealed that it takes an average of four dads to actually get the charcoal alight, using enough lighter fuel to successfully ignite the Wicker Man and enough puff to inflate a warehouse full of lilos.
PEOPLE INAPPROPRIATELY SUNBATHING ON A MOTORWAY SERVICE STATION VERGE
Despite the Britain being both an island and largely agricultural, for some reason there never seems to be enough empty green or sandy places to adequately compliment all of the nation’s sun-worshippers. For this reason, the moment that the sun emerges from behind the grey, hail-filled clouds, any compatible spot: roundabouts, floral clocks, football pitch touchlines, waste ground, dog parks, verges and fallow fields, are all descended upon by people with bedsheets and a copy of OK magazine.
ADDICTION TO PUSH-ME PULL-YOU/COINY SLOT DROP/PUSHER MACHINES
For some British holidaymakers, the entire fortnight is spent in a nearby arcade, dutifully dropping ten pences into the shuffling, shelf gambling machine (they have no official name) attempting to nudge a life-changing mound of coins towards the slot and into your clammy palms. And you know that the second you leave your position, some kid will come along drop one coin in, give the machine a nudge and grab your jackpot.
OLD LADIES IN INCREDIBLE SUNGLASSES
Probably because they purchased them sometime in 1965 and have hung onto them ever since, elderly ladies always seem to have the most amazing protective eyewear that wouldn’t look out of place at the Cannes Film Festival or on the face of some Indie rockstar darling. When your gran turns the conversation towards the painful subject of her will, don’t ask for cash or ornaments, make sure you get her sunnies.
KIDS CRYING WHILE HOLDING AN ICE CREAM
Has a child ever been given a 99 and not immediately started bawling? How can anyone be unhappy while holding a Mr Whippy? And yet if you hang around an ice-cream van, you will be guaranteed to see a toddler with a cornet, screaming like a banshee. And, if you are still hanging around an ice-cream van, you’ll probably attract the attention of the local constabulary.
CLICHES ABOUT THE BRITISH SUMMER
For several months during the summer season, it feels as if our entire human discourse revolves around phrases that wouldn’t be out of place in an Ealing comedy from the 1950’s. Comments such as ‘Isn’t it close?’, ‘Phwoar what a scorcher’ and ‘It’s hot in the sun’. As soon as autumn kicks in, sometime around mid-August, we all revert to normal speech again and say things like ‘What are you looking at?’ ‘Get out of my way’ and ‘It’s too cold to snow’.