The high temperatures we are currently experiencing have been, at times, almost unbearable for me. They have left me feeling exhausted and tetchy, a sheer delight to be around, I am sure! Nothing unusual in that you may think, given that most of the population has been seeking solace from the searing heat recently. Except that for me, it is usually a case of the hotter the better, as far as the weather is concerned.
I am, by nature, a sun-worshipper. The concept of a “hard-earned tan” does not exist in my world. How can the hours spent building up the bronze be considered a chore, when the process of doing so is filled with such pleasure? The ritual slapping-on of suntan lotion, the smell of which immediately transports you to some far-flung destination, even when you are only sat in your own back garden; the feel of muscles relaxing as any tension dissipates in the warmth of the sun on your skin. I have always thought that David Austin’s 1984 release, “This Boy Loves The Sun” could have been written for me (with the obvious gender adjustment!).
Since my teenage years, if the sun was shining, I would be doing everything I could to be outside in its company. Summer school days were spent coercing teachers into holding lessons outside the classroom. One fifth form English lesson, in which we studied the War Poets, whilst sat under a large willow tree, as the sun filtered through its foliage, remains a firm fixture in my mind. As does the art class, which I persuaded our teacher to hold in the orchards of our school grounds, as it would enable us to give more realism to our life drawings!
Even revising for exams became less traumatic if I could do it in the sun. During my ‘O’ levels, in the summer of 1987, I perfected a technique which saw me studying indoors in the evening and early morning. Then around 10am, I would be in the garden on a sun lounger, catching some rays, as my mum tested me on quotes from Siegfried Sassoon’s poetry, or on dates from the History of Medicine. This routine not only had me feeling better, but enabled me to incorporate into it a little beauty regime too. These were the days of lemon juice through the hair (or “Sun-In” spray, if I hadn’t blown all my money on vinyl), and baby oil on the skin. Although I have now dropped both these practices, one because I came to realise that frying in the sun was actually putting my life at risk, and the other because it turned my hair to straw, there is no denying that I still feel and look better with a tan.
I may have changed my mind in ten years’ time, when my skin resembles an old, leather handbag, but for now, I can’t get enough of those feelgood, energy-giving rays. Now, you can understand my distress at being unable to cope in the high temperatures we are currently experiencing. I am hoping it is just a blip, and I will soon be back outdoors where I belong, not only sunbathing but doing everything else that I possibly can outside. Whether it is gardening, which I never even contemplate in cold weather but perform with a ferocity in the sun, reading, writing or ironing, if it can be done in the sun, I am usually there. In the meantime, I shall continue to moan in the style Victor Meldrew, annoying all those around me with my attempts to cool down. Now, where did I put the Magicool?