Opinion: Sleeping through our magical summer

Leather on willow: the sound of a British summer
Leather on willow: the sound of a British summer
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Summer is here and the sun is shining. So why is our columnist Colin Drury snoozing through it?

Sometimes in the summer my favourite thing is to go home after work, open the window, close the curtains, and sleep for an hour or so.

I drift off while sounds drift in, rush hour traffic, engines and hooters, then kids on bikes, a football and a wall, birds in my garden settling down, neighbours talking, hints of music, hints of television, sometimes hints of Television...

I like to sleep and to listen in the summer.

And then when I wake up I like how it’s still light, and the evening is still long and sometimes still warm too, and it’s there to do whatever you want with – even if all you want to do is nothing at all.

Two fine days and a thunderstorm, though? That’s a British summer generally, isn’t it? George II said so, so they say. He may have been blind of eye and German of birth but he saw our warm weather for what it is. Which is to say, not very warm.

But still...it’s ours, isn’t it? Lawn tennis and paddling pools and gin for breakfast; willow on leather and girls in short shorts; a burnt sausage under gathering clouds.

Magnificent, it is. “Make the most of it now, it won’t last forever,” my Nana would say, shivering in a cardigan, late into her patio night. I wasn’t listening, though. Probably too busy reading The Beano.

But she was right, of course. How it slips through your fingers. The days are so long but they pass so quick. Kind of depressing.

I remember some kid I hardly knew, years ago, now.

“Each summer I sought life, each autumn wrought me lifeless,” he wrote one September, then kicked a stool from under his feet.

A waste they said, but I like words when they’re written well, and I always thought anyone who came up with those 10 had done something with their life.

An extreme case of seasonal affective disorder, they said. SAD. It was sad.

But me, I don’t mind the rain too much. Lights in puddles. Coats against drizzle. Warm lights in windows. Old men in pubs, talking of snow they once had. “Up to here, it was, dug our way to work, all winter long.”

It’s not the summer, though, is it? I lie in bed, listening to the breeze, wondering sometimes, ‘why didn’t he just go and spend a year somewhere hot?’