Monthly Archives: July 2016

30 Days of Summer

(Adapted from an original post from 2014, re-posted in 2015.)

Allow me to present…in no particular order (though think Channel 4/5 countdown programmes, but without Stuart Marconi)...My Top 30 ‘Reasons Why I Don’t Like Summer.’ (In the city. In Britain. On a normal, average working day, bearing in mind that weekends are often worse and bank holidays even more so.)

The emphasis being on MY reasons. As I say completely biased, personal experience led reasons.

1) June, the start of summer, (as well as May) is the month when exams and tests take place in educational establishments across the land. Now this, in my humble opinion, is just the most stupidly bonkers thing our education system has ever thought up. Hmmmm. Hot, sticky, greenhouses for classrooms? I know! (thought some bright spark once upon an ice age)..Let’s get the kids, who resemble lethargic wasps by this time in the term, to sit in these hothouses and sweat it out over exams and tests. It really is the best thing to be doing when the sun is shining and one in four of them are suffering from hay fever. Not only that, let’s ensure they don’t get to enjoy any of the rare sunny, dry weather (if they are that way inclined) whilst they cram their revision in. Ah ha! You may argue. But there’s still July and August to enjoy. Oh Really? Nine years out of ten, as soon as the academic year ends, so does any sign of the sun. Until September 2nd. When it returns with a vengeance, ready to bake the children at gas mark 6 for six hours a day until at least September 29th.  This is *fact. I bet there are statistics on Wikipedia about it and stuff.

*According to me.

2) The stupidly light, humid nights of June especially mean kids don’t go to sleep until it’s time for us adults to hit the hay, which is earlier these days since we got old, tired and grumpy from having kids.

3) Apparently unconcerned that they have school the following day, and more than likely some important test or exam revision to do, older kids roam the streets until at least 9:30pm, making noise and keeping said younger children from their sleeping (refer back to point #2.)

4) Apparently unconcerned that, despite the hot weather, they have work the following day, neighbours, (who have no kids) lounge around in their gardens supping beer and laughing raucously with their mates until some ungodly hour. Thus keeping your child, whose bedroom window happens to overlook their garden, awake. (refer to point #2 again.)

5) It’s too damn hot to do anything. Anything. Other than sit writing blog posts about how too damn hot it is.

6) End of year school reports have to be written. (Refer also to point #1 about how stupid and illogical the organisation of the school year is.)

7) The lawn and garden requires care and attention at least once a week, whereas in winter this is one less job to do, thus providing one with more time to do things such as, oh I don’t know, write school reports.  Oh wait, no that’s in the…(see point #5)

8) Feet are on show. Feet are not pretty things. Not even the pretty ones, so stop kidding yourselves. A necessary evil because of aforementioned ‘it’s too damn hot’ point.

9) The acrid stench of stale body odour, sweaty feet mixed with barbecues fill the air.

10) After months of it clogging up the house, there is a false sense of security that once more the wet washing can be hung outside to dry. But wait! Just hold on there. The neighbours have oh so considerately got the barbecue going and have soiled the fresh, meadow-grass scented clothes with the oily, greasy stench of cheap burgers and pork products.

11) The light nights bring about a false sense of having more time. It appears to be 6pm, but upon inspecting the clock it is apparently actually 9pm. It’s bed time soon, but the kids are still awake (see point #2). Staying up later is the only option in order to make it feel as though you’re going to bed at a grown up time. This means a reduced amount of  sleep and waking the next morning, grumpy and irritable. The hot, humid heat wave continues and the grumpiness intensifies due to lack of said sleep.

12) Shaving becomes imperative. Daily. The need to apply products like tanning moisturiser seems necessary just so no one is mistaken for a slightly off colour snowman. Or a bad case of blue cheese. All of this takes up more time. Stuff one just doesn’t have to worry about so much in the winter.

13) Summer brings with it the ‘what to wear’ debate. Is a waterproof needed? (Yes, just in case.) Is a cardi or pullover necessary? Probably, but maybe not. It’s difficult to tell. One might be required once evening sets in, but then again does one wish to carry it around all day in the heat? Hmmmm. Skirt or dress or trousers? Oh, a pretty floral summer dress! Yes! No, wait: you have big thighs. Big thighs don’t like heat. They have a habit of sticking together. Better put some cropped leggings on underneath. Oh but now it’s too hot. Hummpf. Okay, now, which shoes? Sandals?  Oh bugger, nails aren’t painted. Canvas pumps? Yuk; sweaty feet. Flip flops? How much walking is planned today? Not much, but does one really want to look as though one is on the beach in St Tropez on a Monday afternoon whilst trying to give an air of at least possessing an ounce of professionalism? Not really.  Massive dilemma after massive dilemma. Every day of every summer. Never exactly sure how the temperature’s going to pan out.  In winter it’s just cold. Everyone knows where they stand. Everyone knows they’ll be dressed up in layer upon layer with no need to shed. Everyone knows tights won’t become uncomfortable. Everyone knows feet won’t drip with sweat. In Winter, all is simple. But British Summer is tricksie.

14) Leaving  the car for two minutes, only to return and find it’s actually an oven in disguise and everything you left in it resembles something from a Salvador Dali.

15) Sport suddenly becomes important. To everyone. The Football World Cup, or European Championships, or the Olympics rear their heads, meaning a deluge of St George’s crosses and Union Jacks suddenly appear overnight flapping wildly from car windows and council estate bedroom windows across the land. It means the pubs become full of loud, obnoxious types who think they know everything about every sport ever invented. “Oh yes, the optimum angle a javelin should be thrown is 45 degrees, and he got it all wrong. All wrong mate.”  Then there’s the women who pretend to be interested in football for the month, just because “Well, you know England are playing.” (Ironically these are the same women usually cursing the networks for interrupting coverage of Coronation Street as Manchester United trounce Liverpool. Or vice versa, let’s not be biased.) And of course, each June, Wimbledon dominates the BBC for a whole fortnight. How the schedulers get round this must be a logistical nightmare when there are Olympics or World Cups to consider too. They must love the one year in four when there isn’t anything else to compete with. I know I do. It’s not sports themselves which are the problem. It’s the assumption of the media, and the majority of the populace, that everyone should be interested in it or care about it. NOT EVERYONE DOES. PLEASE STOP RAMMING IT DOWN OUR THROATS.

16) Skinny, pale chested men, take their tops off in public. (More so when there is a football tournament on, refer to point #15)

17) Overweight and obese people show too much flesh for it to be comfortable for onlookers to observe. See point #16 so I am not accused of fatism.

18) There is NO happy medium on points #16&17 without giving you a complex your bod is not ‘beach ready’.

19) Everyone. EVERYONE gets grumpy, especially once England get knocked out of said football tournaments. (For other, better, more sensible reasons for summer grumpiness, see points #1-14 and #20-30)

20) Some inconsiderate neighbours (there’s always at least one) open all their windows and play their music at top volume because, well why wouldn’t everyone else want to listen to The Greatest Hits of Crap on a loop?

21) Once the neighbours have turned off their (inevitably crap) music, finished their barbecue and put their offspring to bed, and it’s time to turn in for the night, it’s too damn hot to sleep anyway.

22) Chocolate melts merely from glancing in its direction.

23) Wasps and flies. But mainly wasps. Oh and flying ants.

24) By the time schools break up for summer holidays they and teachers have already sweated their way in work through the ‘best’ of the what the British climate has to offer and so spend most of August dodging rain showers, watching the nights slowly draw in and feeling depressed about the fact September is looming.

25) It’s too damn hot to actually sit out and enjoy the garden (after spending the time tending to it whenever there’s been a break in the rain) for any prolonged period of time. This is because pale, pasty British skin is prone to burning even when slapped in Factor 30. Other than that it’s just too uncomfortable to sit. “It’s the wrong kind of heat.” Apparently. Which brings me neatly to…

26) Pale, sensitive skin burns from a mere 20 minute stint in the sun.  It doesn’t do this evenly of course. A little skin, mainly of the ‘driving arm’, actually tans; some turns pink; but most, in the main legs, seems impervious to the sun no matter how much exposure to the harmful ultraviolet rays it’s put through. As a result, the next three weeks are spent looking like an oversized, inedible portion of Neapolitan ice cream. The days following this brief vitamin D collecting exercise necessitates wearing none- summer clothes in order to hide the embarrassing bright red patches. Those lucky enough to burn all over, can enjoy the pain and itching for at least a week to come as well as the stares and pointing fingers at the cooked lobster look.

27) Humidity does no favours to those of us in possession of thick hair. Think Monica Geller in Friends when she visits Barbados. Yep. That. Humidity and rain? Double the pain.

28) Headaches. Summer brings more headaches and the heat only intensifies them. Once a summer heat headache kicks in the only thing which will shift it, is sleep. But then it’s too hot to sleep….vicious cycle! (See points 11 and 21).

29) Finally, the pressure and compulsion to be outside just because it’s nice is like some sort of social expectation which, if not met, results in a guilt complex bigger than any Roman Catholic could declare. Work still needs to be done. It doesn’t just go away because the thermometer has realised there is a 30 on its scale.  “Oh, why don’t you sit out and write your book/ reports/do your lesson planning?” some helpful person may suggest  “Oh I don’t know: where would you like me to start?” Other than the fact it’s too bright to see the screen, sitting out in the sweltering sun for prolonged periods means having to: listen to the neighbour’s stream of chronically bad music; get sunburned despite stopping work every five minutes to slip, slap, slop; develop a headache; grow uncomfortably hot and sweaty and stick to the garden furniture; develop squint eye and frizzy hair; fight off swarms of wasps, flies and any other insects who take a fancy to buzzing around; have to listen to other people’s kids screaming  and yelling whilst trying to concentrate;  drink warm lemonade as it heats up in nanoseconds. In other words see points 1-28!

And finally new for 2015…

30) Hayfever. I don’t suffer myself (thankfully), however just after I published this post last year, my 6 year old developed an allergy to grass pollen for the first time. This year it has returned and with it itchy, watery, red eyes which also swell to the point they look bruised and it looks as though he’s been punched. So now June is also a month whereby I feel the need to start every conversation with “I haven’t punched him, he has really bad hay fever.”  Hayfever is rotten for him. It makes him lethargic and his nose runs and then is blocked, his eyes are sore and he can’t sleep very well for it. From my whining point of view, this part of summer now means as well as preparing his birthday celebrations (which of course fall slap bang in the middle of the grass pollen season) and me writing school reports, I have to play nurse and be extra vigilant in easing his suffering. This means constant checking of the wearing of eye shields. It means not being able to go outside after school with him as he is a) too tired and b) at his weakest point by 4-5 o’clock. It means fighting to put eye-drops in (try it whilst they have their hands covering their eyes…yeah….not happening), and administer regular doses of medicine. It means washing his arms and face and eyes down with a damp flannel and changing his clothes when he’s been outside. It means closing windows and staying in at weekends to give him some respite from the worst of the symptoms. Basically it means more hard work in a month I already don’t especially like for the other 29 reasons!

What about you? Do you loathe or love the hot weather and all that summer brings? Add your thoughts in the comments below.

Thanks as ever for reading. 🙂

Addendum: It’s mid July, 2016 mid heat wave. It’s 34 degrees celcius outside, (after a month of seriously unpredictable yet much lovely cooler weather which I have not moaned about once!) This year I have learned from previous summers. I have given up teaching and simply spend my evenings eating salad and drinking cider in the garden. The neighbours are still playing chronically rubbish music though!


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