In every situation in life, there's always a way to make a tit of yourself
In a world filled with minor afflictions, from head colds to strange purple rashes, those that seem to crop up around summertime have surely got to be the most troublesome. Except perhaps nut allergies, it was really quite a blow when they stopped serving peanuts on aeroplanes. But I suppose having a fellow passenger swell up to the size of a small hippopotamus and descend into an anaphylactic coma would also put a bit of a dampener on your holiday so that was probably for the best.
But anyway, back to summer ailments (and yes, I’m going to do the thing where I find a reason to complain about the weather even when it’s nice, because I’m British, and that’s just what we do). Of these, hay fever has got to be the don of all distempers, the count of all complaints, the lord of all… well, you get the idea. Just when the sun starts shining, the thermometer manages to inch its way into double figures, and the council starts to consider hose pipe bans, it seems like the right time of year to start thinking about frolicking in wide, green open spaces, maybe running through a wildflower meadow or two.
But unfortunately hay fever has other ideas. Romping through a scene from an Enid Blyton novel is slightly less spiffing with a scratchy throat, streaming nose and puffy eyes. Instead of peaceful rural idylls, fields of long grass, woods adorned with bluebells, and even your mum’s herbaceous border all become veritable biohazard zones of itchy wheeziness. You find yourself obsessively watching the weather forecast for the pollen counts in order to determine precisely how much antihistamine you’ll need to be doped up on to survive the next day, and whether you’ll need some heavy-duty breathing apparatus in order to venture outside.
However, even if you survive the wafting clouds of pollen that have descended around you through a combination of pills, vapour rubs, and injections in unspeakable parts of your body, you are unfortunately still not safe. Summer is the time when you find yourself facing attack from the skies. An assortment of in-flight irritants take to the air on warm summer breezes, and among the worst of them are wasps.
No picnic, trip to the zoo, or game of crazy golf is immune from becoming the target of a frenzied wasp attack. Despite the fact that they are not equipped with noses, wasps seem very adept at smelling fear and honing in on those most likely to scream in a high-pitched manner and run around waving their hands in the air. Maybe the wasps find this amusing, passers-by certainly do.
All the hot weather, innocent children, and callippo ice lollies seem to draw these fiends out to prey on unsuspecting victims. Unless you have the latent ninja skills of my grandma who used to cut wasps in half with kitchen scissors, really the only thing you can do when faced with a waspish onslaught is to remain calm and hope that you’re not allergic to wasp stings. I, fortunately, do not swell up like a bullfrog on steroids when stung by a wasp. Which really is very fortunate for me, otherwise the story of that time I got thrown, incredibly gracefully, from a horse into a wasps’ nest could have had a very different ending.
And if you fend off the pollen and the wasps then there’s always the heat to get you down. ‘But warm weather is great!’ I hear you cry. And yes, warm weather is great. But this is Britain, we are not kitted-out with air-conditioning and our car tyres don’t have snow-chains on them, we don’t know how to deal with weather. If the temperature is not between 0-15’C, and the weather is something other than grey and a bit drizzly, we freak out. And when we freak out we tend to stay home from work, close a few airports, and do a lot of grumbling. Someone, somewhere may even write a strongly worded letter. It’s not pretty.
So all in all, it’s almost a relief when August comes to an end, the flowers stop flowering, the wasps go back wherever wasps go when it’s not summer, and the sun slinks back behind a nice grey cloud. We can put away the aftersun, and the after-sting, and the stash of anti-allergy drugs worthy of a Columbian cartel, and enjoy a nice bit of rain. We know where we are with rain. Unless it rains slightly too much of course, then it floods. And then we freak out.