The summer and I do not get along. With the exception of Pimm’s, strawberries and the Beach Boys, there is absolutely nothing about the season which appeals to me.
I prefer the crunch of frost under my boots, the bracing chill of a crisp breeze, the beautiful russet and gold hues of autumn, mulled wine, cosy pubs with roaring fires, snowball fights, roasting chestnuts… you get the picture.
The summer makes me feel like I am being subjected to some sort of sweat-fuelled endurance test during which the entire season is deliberately geared towards making me miserable.
Firstly, my poor body just can’t cope with the relentless heat and baking sunshine. If I’m forced to take even a few steps away from the air conditioning, I immediately develop a pounding headache and feel very much like Metallica are playing live behind my eyes.
My cleavage is endlessly soggy, my scalp itches and I’m so light-headed that I stumble around like newborn foal on roller skates. I am forced to take refuge wherever I can and loiter in the freezer section of my local supermarket so frequently that I am now on first name terms with the store detective.
My delicate, putty-coloured skin is just not equipped to deal with even the weakest sunlight. It blisters in the light of a 20-watt bulb, so UV rays send it into total meltdown. I spend the entire summer swathed from ankle to neck in white linen, skulking beneath a voluminous straw hat and slathering factor 50 lotion on to any exposed flesh in layers an inch thick.
Nevertheless, I still seem to end up with skin that looks like a bowl of rhubarb and custard and I have to buy industrial quantities of Aloe Vera gel.
Furthermore, my flesh becomes a running buffet for every flying pest within a five- mile radius. The second I step outdoors, it’s like someone has rung the insect dinner gong and I am beset by hungry, buzzing creatures of all forms that just can’t wait to take a bite out of me.
Even the foul-smelling extra-strength insect repellent that I ladle on by the pint does little to dissuade them; they seem to view it less as a deterrent and more as a salad dressing. I end up with red-raw skin and an itch that would drive the Dalai Lama to violence.
The horror of hay fever
Perhaps most importantly, I get hay fever. Sinus-mangling, eye-scorching, horrific hay fever. I am allergic to every form of grass, tree and plant pollen that Mother Nature has to offer.
Even with the appropriate medication – which I take in quantities big enough to sedate a crocodile – I feel like someone has pushed a bucket of hot coals into all of my facial orifices and then tried to fish them out again with a wire coat hanger. Add to that the endless coughing, sneezing, snorting and nose blowing and it’s really not a pretty picture.
One of the most irritating things about the summer is that everyone else seems to love it. At the first sign of some sun, the rest of the population swarms outside, gulping lager in beer gardens, chasing dogs in parks and incinerating steaks on barbecues.
Every available inch of outdoor space is taken up with sun worshippers soaking up the heat. Suddenly, garments and, seemingly, inhibitions, are cast aside and acres of doughy flesh are on show everywhere you look. I have no idea why, but people seem to relish the hot weather.
Of course, if I voice my dissenting opinion, I am regarded as a total deviant and the very worst sort of killjoy. I am frequently asked, “Isn’t it gorgeous weather?” by people choosing to ignore my hang-dog expression and quiet whimpering. If I reply, “No, it isn’t. I hate it!” they look at me with abject horror, as if I’d just told them that my favourite hobbies are strangling kittens and mugging old ladies.
“It’s all subjective, really,” I mumble.
What I should say is, “just what is it about my bloodshot eyes, red-raw nose, constant sneezing, blistered skin, face covered in gnat bites and the fact that I’m virtually swooning with heatstroke that gives you the impression I am actually enjoying this putrid, broiling, blooming awful weather?!”