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.
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 your neighbour starts stock-piling water butts in preparation for the imminent hose-pipe ban, it seems like the right time of year to start 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 once your throat feels like you’ve swallowed a raccoon, your nose has become slightly over-zealous in the mucus production department, and your eyelids have puffed up to alarming proportions.
Instead of peaceful rural idylls, fields of long grass, woods adorned with bluebells, and even the occasional herbaceous border all become veritable biohazard zones of itchy wheeziness.
The summer adds an exciting new element to the daily weather forecast for us to obsess over, grumble about, and discuss with strangers whilst waiting in queues. In basically the same months that you suddenly become an expert on tennis because Wimbledon is on the telly, you also become a temporary expert on pollen counts.
These vital statistics help us figure out how we’re going to survive until September – usually through a combination of pills, vapour rubs and hermetically sealing our own homes.
Wafting clouds of pollen aside, a whole assortment of in-flight irritants take to the air on warm summer breezes. And wasps are among the most fiendish.
No picnic, trip to the zoo, or game of crazy golf is immune from becoming the target of a frenzied wasp attack.
Given the fact that they are not actually equipped with noses, wasps seem remarkably adept at smelling fear and, if you’ll forgive the turn of phrase, making a bee-line for those most likely to scream in a high-pitched manner and run around waving their hands in the air.
Perhaps the wasps find this amusing. Passers-by certainly do.
An abundance of hot weather, egg and cress sandwiches, and Callippo ice lollies draw these fiends out to prey on unsuspecting victims. Unless blessed with latent ninja skills (you never know until called upon to act in a wasp-related emergency), there are really only two things you can do when faced with a waspish onslaught.
Hope that you’re not allergic to wasp stings. Pretend that you’re far too cool to be flustered by a few insects, and attempt to calmly brush them away even though you’re convinced that you are mere moments from stingy, waspy doom, and that one there is definitely about to fly inside your cardigan.
If, on the other hand, you know that a wasp sting will cause you to swell up like a particularly exasperated bullfrog then by all means throw all caution to the winds and run around in circles with much flapping. Perfectly justified.
If you manage to 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, apart from the fact that it makes a frankly sensational conversation topic for any eventuality, we just don’t know how to deal with weather. We are not equipped with air-conditioning, our car tyres don’t have snow-chains on them, and we are quick to meteorological panic.
If the temperature is not between 0-15′C, and the weather is something other than grey and a bit drizzly, we have no idea what to do with it. On the first genuinely sunny day of the year we tend to get all overexcited, wear an inappropriate lack of clothing, dust off the deck-chairs and spend four-to-five hours attempting to light a barbecue.
Which also means we tend to end the first genuinely sunny day of the year with a severe case of sunburn, a mild case of heat stroke and a stomach full of charcoal that may at one time have been a sausage.
So all in all, it’s almost a relief when August comes to an end, the flowers stop flowering, the wasps stop wasping, and the sun slinks back behind a nice grey cloud.
We can put away the after-sun, and the after-sting, and the stash of anti-allergy drugs worthy of a Columbian cartel, and enjoy a lovely bit of rain. We know where we are with rain. Or better yet, the most comforting, homely and manageable weather of all – overcast.
The Awkward Guide accepts no responsibility for adverse reactions to the implementation of advice supplied herein. Side-effects can include: smug laughter, mild disdain, and temporary irritation.