It’s March and winter should be over, but it isn’t. We Brits have survived what feels like nearly 12 months without sunshine, which makes us a nation of vitamin D-deprived heroes. But the eternal rain, interspersed with arctic cold snaps, has made us more desperate for sunshine than ever.
Many Brits try to migrate south once a year in search of heat. We order our annual dose of sunshine over the internet, putting down our deposits early in the year, like a pile of chips on a poker table. It’s a gamble: Spain, a no-brainer in August, right? Greece, you can’t go wrong in Greece, can you? And when we’re out there, we can’t resist checking what the weather’s doing back home. And God forbid the sun’s come out in Blighty the one bloody week of the year we’re not there, because that was a free week of extra sunshine we could’ve banked.
Still, that’s forgivable so long as the weather’s doing what it’s supposed to be doing in Spain or Greece or wherever you are, because there is NOTHING more gutting to the sun-deprived Brit than paying all that sodding money to go somewhere hot and sunny only for it to piss it down with rain. Not only do you have a crap holiday, but you come home to commiserations from smirking friends: ‘Oh no! Poor you! That’s such rotten luck!’ Oh piss off. Then, when they jet off on their holiday, it’s pissing down here and scorching over there, leaving you suffering from severe SPEW (Self-Pitying Envy of everyone else’s Weather.)
I admit it. I’m obsessed with the weather. Tuning into the weather forecast is almost more important to me than tuning into the news headlines. I need to know what the score is. I don’t know why, I just do. In the spring I watch the temperature like a hawk, waiting for the day when it rises just high enough so that I can finally dig my strappy sandals out – ideally at least 20 degrees centigrade.
Of course there are those super-hardy Brits who refuse to wait for the barometer to reach a temperature vaguely associated with warmth. All that’s required is the merest hint of sunshine, and they’re out there in their shorts and flip-flops, baring goosepimpled flesh to the elements. Only in Great Britain. (There’s a lady round my way who was wearing sandals in the snow last month. WTF?)
So while the shops stock up on sun hats, sarongs and flip-flops and the snow continues to fall, we find ourselves praying that this summer will be a good one. But what are the odds? Red or black? We’re British. We live in hope.
PS. For an immediate hit of sunshine and heat, with some added drama, suspense and intriguing goings-on, my novel Package Deal is about a bunch of British holidaymakers whose lives become entangled on the Greek island of Kefalonia. If that doesn’t sort your sun-cravings out, Hot Property is set in sun-drenched Crete and is about a community of expats who all aspire to live the sun, sea and sand lifestyle, but discover the dream isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. As for my third novel, Pearls, forget it – it’s set in gloomy old England in the winter. What was I thinking?