I’ve finally realised after a full turn of the heavens that it is not an anomoly – London has no concept of those lesser seasons that I love – the beautiful and wistful Autumn, the hopeful and uplifting Spring.
It’s just: Winter… KABLAMMY! Summer… KABLAMMY! Repeat ad nauseum.
After six months of darkness, during which there was not a single temp in double digits, there was a brief flirtation with Spring during which Londonites momentarily put away their poised razor blades and bathed in hope. After that two days in March it was all over again, though, and in late May I was frantically rewriting my suggested packing list to my mother to include thermals, bedsocks, and layers, Layers, LAYERS!
Now though, the weather gods have shown themselves to be lazy trollops devoid of tact or nuance or empathy to man. Every morning at work is a litany of how horrendous and squelchy and breathless our commutes have become, and how difficult it is to dress appropriately for the office while also waylaying sweat stains and mental breakdowns.
But then comes the same mantra time after time, seemingly obligatory lest the trollopy gods bear down on us with ash clouds and summer snow and apocalyptic flooding… “but we can’t complain about the sunshine!!”
The overloaded double decker crawled along, broiling its passengers to the same shade of puce as its iconic exterior. I stood in the aisle, beaded sweat rolling down bared arms, it’s sluggish path stopped only by the skin of strangers, surrounding on six sides.
The collaborative glare of 80 occupants fell on those who sat bewilderingly oblivious beside closed windows. It was to no avail anyway – nothing moved through the gaps as we sat in stilted, enraged traffic, glutted by the excessive desire of all these millions to ‘get to the park!’
Outside, the caterwauling sirens added a 5th sense to the cloying, clogging, choking air surrounding and hounding me, which I could already see, taste, smell, and feel.
Sunglasses slid south and stayed there – the interminable game of removing, wiping, prodding back up was too much effort and I gave in to the dampness. It was everywhere. In unladylike places, as well as particularly ladylike places. Hands slurped against the steadying pole, teaming with the deposits of other sweaty palms, and breeding with previous bodily deposits to create brand new and terrifying life forms in liquid miniature.
Once escaped, I looked up at the enlarged and pale as pale blue vault and felt hopeless. Not a wisp of cirrus or a stratus of protection from the onslaught dared to creep across the dome, lorded over by a cruel hot demon. A plane arched its back across the sun’s flight path and I half-expected it to burst into vampiric flames as the tiny windows failed to absorb the enormous light. At the very least the pilots must surely be blinded and dip the plane along with their shuttered eyes towards the welcoming other blue below.
Perhaps I should have welcomed the idea of going underground, into the cool dark cavern of my imagination. But I approached the gaping mouth with the trepidation of one who has known that torture before. A stray piece of curly black weave lay limply on the escalator and I wondered if an overheated frontal cortex had made its owner so enraged by commuters standing on the left that they had literally torn their hair out.
I wanted to literally tear my clothes off, but only if followed immediately by a waiting body of water. One cool, and clear, and calm, and deep. One free of tourists and hipsters, occupied only by lovers and giggling children and happy dogs. I would be happy just to feel my eyes sting from the salty spray of the wide inviting ocean, rather than the ocean of salty sweat rolling from brow to squinting, seared retinas.
Perhaps I am thinking of heaven, or perhaps of home. Perhaps home is a type of heaven – a castle in the Long White Cloud, moated by a sea salted with the tears of the old gods, weeping as they gave up to us the beautiful seasons. I pray to Autumn. I devote myself to Spring. I defy the fallen Winter.
And I beg for mercy from the cruel Summer.