Four seasons in one day
I'm finally giving in and doing that most British of pastimes: talking about the weather.
London is suffocating at the moment in the 'weather that can't make up its mind' phase that seems to happen annually. One moment it's blistering heat with not a cloud in the sky; the next it's oppressive darkness with the threat of rain and yet still a temperature high enough to keep your cotton T-shirt sticking just slightly to your skin and your underwear clamped firmly to your arse.
The good thing about this time of year is that things start to 'happen'. The capital seems less dead and as the trees start to bud and the first tops of the year are peeled off in the park, Time Out suddenly gets a bit thicker and there are all sorts of things to do; things you'd never have the time to do even if days were 72 hours long and weekends lasted a month.
It's the time of year when your weekends get booked up quickly with parties, barbecues and boozy sessions in bars you've never been to before. Everybody seems in so much of a better mood that I often wonder why people bother living in temperate countries at all. Why don't we all live in the Seychelles? And then I remember how nice winter is and dismiss that ridiculous idea.
What grates about this time of year is not knowing what to wear. As I said, the weather is doing its level best to be like one of those people you meet at parties who pretend to be crazy and unpredictable and yet usually live the most humdrum of existences. I'm being continually caught out by mini-downpours and sudden bursts of blazing sunshine. I took my jacket on and off so many times last Saturday that I feel now fully prepared to take up a scholarship at poledancing school. I have always detested surprises and the weather's constant attempts to jump out at me and say 'boo!' are not welcome. You can bet that whatever I choose to wear will be wrong; by the end of the week I'll probably have been both soaked to the skin in just a T-shirt and roasted alive in long sleeves and a jacket.
And yet I prefer this transitional phase to summer proper, where all hope of cooling off is abandoned with hours spent sweltering on trains or buses, fanning yourself desperately with that same copy of Time Out. Everybody's buoyant mood at the prospect of summer has mutated into irritation at the heat and number of tourists sharing the same space. Leisurely walks to get ice creams are replaced by desperate charges to find the last chilled bottle of Evian in central London that doesn't cost over £3. Boozy lunches in beer gardens make way for stony silences in the park as everybody bakes and can't find the effort to talk. If only spring could bounce around for a bit longer.