It’s safe to say that I’m not the outdoorsy type. In fact, it’s safe to say anything because I’m inside where nobody can hear me. Bristol has some of the highest rents in the country and I consider never leaving the house to be the only way to get my money’s worth.
Besides, the outdoors is horrible. It’s full of soil and wasps. It’s where 90% of folk music happens. It’s not safe either. Remember when JFK got assassinated in his own home? No you don’t, because IT HAPPENED OUTSIDE. We only put up with the outdoors because it’s been there for ages and it feels traditional. If we discovered it today it would be banned immediately.
For three quarters of the year I can tolerate the outdoors. It stays on its side of the curtains and I stay on mine, like a floral print 38th parallel, each of our Ministries of Information working overtime to spread vicious rumours about the people on the other side. (There are more people on the other side of my curtains by a factor of about seven billion to one, so I can only assume they are winning the propaganda war, no matter how many satirical cartoons I print of “The Outdoor Folk.”)
Every year though, my fragile ceasefire with the outdoors is shattered by the onset of summer, that magical time of year when the sun decides that getting in your eyes isn’t enough; it also wants to burn your skin and come into your room to show you how rubbish all of your stuff is. It’s the ITV2 of seasons- it’s loud and crass, and it gets a little bit more extreme every year because of our failings as a species.
Summer is when the outdoors forgets its place and starts to get all up in your grill, a grill that it insists you move into the garden for no apparent reason. Never invite me to a barbecue by the way. Inviting me to a barbecue is like saying “Hey Martin, you know how you’re terrified of social interaction? Well imagine that, but also everything’s on fire.”
I have two main problems with summer. The first is that it’s so damn uncomfortable. Call me old fashioned but I believe that sweating should be about fear and shame, not regulating body temperature. There are no appropriate summer outfits for a man in his late 20s. My winter wardrobe is (relatively) stylish and age-appropriate. My summer wardrobe makes me look like a 12 year old boy in a Goosebumps book. I’ve been wearing denim shorts and trainers every summer since 1996 like some awful part-time Crash Bandicoot impersonator.
The problem with my summer hibernation is that, unlike a squirrel, I don’t have enough fridge space to store three month’s worth of supplies, meaning that occasional forays into the not so great outdoors are inevitable. As the days get longer and hotter, my window for getting to the supermarket whilst maintaining a reasonable body temperature gets increasingly small, until I’m scurrying to Lidl two minutes before closing time, vaulting boxes in my haste like the aforementioned bandicoot if he ate spaghetti bolognese ready meals instead of apples that aren’t called apples.
My second problem with this season is the way that you are constantly reminded just how much fun everyone else is having. If social media is to be believed, all of the beautiful people I’ve somehow befriended over the years spend the summer months dancing in fields to songs about dancing in fields before retiring to a nearby beach to take pictures of their own legs. I feel very left out. My legs look the same all year round, except in the summer there’s a chance I might have turned my pyjamas into cut-offs.
Bristol is especially bad for this (or good for this if you’re anyone but me.) Summer is a really big deal here. As a grown man who can’t ride a bike, I always feel a bit out of step with the culture of this city, but the difference is especially stark in the summer. Every week there’s another festival- Music, comedy, street food, cider, cars (That last one might have just been a traffic jam, I’m not sure.)
I hear the joyful noises and smell the delicious aromas carried on the wind while I hide in my room, occasionally appearing at the window like a sad agoraphobic Hitchcock cameo. Love Saves The Day used to happen next to my workplace, and then it kindly relocated next to my house. If you’ve never been stalked by a festival, believe me, it’s very disconcerting.
I don’t begrudge other Bristolians their fun. If occasional exposure to other people’s joy is the price you have to pay for living in one of the best cities in the country, then so be it. I should probably make more of an effort to enjoy this time of year. DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince were very keen on it and I agree with them about most other things. Now is not the time for this conversation though. Lidl closes in ten minutes and the sun just went behind a cloud.
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