A strange chill on a summer’s day…


The arrival of summer is signalled in different ways for different people. A glimpse of bra strap on the underground perhaps; a loud white man sporting those awe-inspiringly ugly three-quarter trousers and (God help us) flip-flops; or maybe it’s a sunburned head after a day boozing with only your meaty, dead-eyed bulldog for company because everyone senses correctly that you relish bloodshed. Whatever it is, summer is icumen in.

When I was little I didn’t really notice the seasons, or not the subtleties of arrival and departure, anyway. It was soft fruit and tummy ache, socks sliding off and wedging into the toes of wellies, melty snow-sodden gloves, or earwigs in the guinea-pig cage. Eurgh, earwigs. But now my summer herald is probably the first day I swim in the open air.

I sort of admire those people who swim outdoors every day all year in unheated water, though I am a bit scared of them as well, what with them being crazy and all. Thing is, though, if they swim every day they never really get that magic sense of occasion. They never get to think: today is the first day this year that I shall plunge in. Plunging-in day is a marker. A red-letter day. Nutters just have a gentle easing of pain, edging towards okayness, then back to plausible interrogation technique. In March and April they can only pray that this time will be a bit less frigging awful than it was last week. For October and November the sense flips over. This will get worse and worse, for months to come. Sheesh.

So today I embraced the annoying 15 minutes I’d forgotten about, the ones where I slather on factor 3758694 and then get stuck to my clothes. Walked the 25 mins to the pool and, after a few minutes of agonised dithering, just to ensure I was really really tense and hating it, I threw myself in. Ffffft, ffffft, cooorrrrr, mother of God etc, then back to where I’m happy, in the blue, blue depths of sunny water.

Incidentally, on the way back I came across a groovemeister ice-cream van. Usually their chimes are rubbish like Greensleeves, Yankee Doodle Effing Dandy or Generic Child-Catcher Noodlings but this one had a vaguely familiar tune that I couldn’t place for a minute. Finally realised it was the theme to The Third Man, by Anton Karas, so creepily brilliant when played on the zither (listen here). It definitely lost something when rendered on ice-cream van plonking, but even so, there weren’t no kiddies queuing up. They don’t go a bundle on post-war amorality in chiaroscuro Vienna around here, obviously. Not with ice cream.


One Response to “A strange chill on a summer’s day…”

  1. 1 Damp squib « Vanessa Harriss's Blog

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