OK, so British Summer Time has arrived. Hurrah! Like most people, I've spent the morning drearing around, changing clocks and moaning about a missed hour's sleep. We'll get over it. Plucky old Britain. On the horizon, or at least we hope so, a gently evolving summer of hot days in the garden and balmy evenings with a cold beer or a glass of wine. Preferably both. The gentle sound of Sunday gardeners mowing their lawns, the evocative noise of a transistor radio commentating on Wimbledon tennis . . . hang on a sec, I seem to be thinking about summer 1977. Let's get real . . .
To begin with, the mere sniff of summer seems to have spawned a rather nasty rash of shorts and flips flops. M'lud, please take a look at exhibit A, Waitrose this afternoon. The usual cast had gathered - harrassed yummy mummy in her jogging bottoms , hair yanked back in an elastic band. Carefully unshaven daddy, bald head and square designer specs loitering over an Observer. The kids - oh God, the kids, pushing their mini trolleys around, screeching at each other and ignoring yummy mummy's plaintive cries of "Cressida, please don't do that". Amongst this bunch this afternoon, I also spotted the bearers of Summer Sadness, predominantly middle-aged men decked out in shorts and flip flops. Lads, it was 10 degrees outside! I'm sorry, half an hour of sunlight over north London does not a summer make. There seems to be some engulfing desperation that propels these loons to don summer attire the minute the clocks go forward. Please no - one of them was even sporting a white trilby. Enough already.
The spirit of the idyllic summer of '77 is unlikely to return, save for the drought of course. The soundtrack to the 21st century summer seems to be dominated by the screams of children, forced into to the garden minus their electronic games, blinking and gasping like albino rabbits. There is also the all-encompassing stench of burning carcass (and no, I don't mean her from down the road slapping on the factor 5). The dreaded barbecue. How anyone can celebrate friendship by offering up slices of botulism to their mates is anyone's guess. Add to this the vaguely threatening sound of ice-cream van music, dogs barking, Bland FM blaring out the hits of yesteryear plus some demented bint bellowing into her mobile and voila! An English summer has been served.