As a child I was always very reluctant to allow things to come to an end. Whether it be a game, a gathering or a galaxy counter. I was often the first to arrive at a party (that’s a party – not a “play-date”) and invariably, the last to leave. I was the one left behind, aimlessly swinging my racket on the tennis court when everyone else had gone home for their tea. I was the one still chatting and giggling to the friend I had over to stay the night (that’s “having a friend over to stay the night” – not a “sleepover” ) when they had long been asleep.
Anyone who has ever been to a games evening at my house will know that little has changed. Although I no longer sob when guests call a taxi or attempt to get their coats – I stopped doing that once I turned forty – there is still a remaining element of not wanting the fun to end.
I think that’s why I love September. September is like the “it’s not all over” month of relief and optimism. It’s the month when just as everyone is commenting that “it’s turned a bit chilly”, the sun will burst out from behind the clouds and give us three consecutive days of scorching heat. It’s the month when we used to drag ourselves back to school after a long lazy summer, but lo: in short sleeved shirts and with light enough to still go out to play after tea. It’s the month that can frighten us to death with a dramatic, crashing thunderstorm that will provide a drenching downpour of rain warm enough to dance naked under.
That’s what we do in September. We continue to enjoy gentle games of tennis stretching from the warm afternoon into the long evening. We go ahead with our plans to dig all day at the allotment and round it off with a G&T and a few sausages on the barby. We camp – with hope. We go surfing, we fly kites, we light fires, we sit out to enjoy the stars. We dance for hours, naked in the rain.
When I say “we”, well, it was just me. And when I say “for hours”, it was just a few moments really. My next door neighbour’s son has an air rifle so I can’t be too careful.
The point is, I hate to be told the summer is over and September has a beautiful knack of saying it isn’t so. Summer isn’t over just because there’s a chill in the air. Summer isn’t over just because the schools have gone back. Summer isn’t over just because it’s pissing down. In the words of the awesome Deacon Blue…”You know the danger in believing that the summer’s gone…” I don’t actually know the danger but the words resonated with me so deeply that I had them airbrushed onto a vest top on Daytona Beach in 1989.
In America they have labor day. (That’s labor day – not labour day) Labor day falls on the first Monday in September and traditionally marks the end of the summer. That’s it. Done and dusted. Finished. No more barbeques. No more picnics. No more outdoor barn dances with grandpa on the fiddle in a white picket fenced garden with bunting and cake decorating competitions and homemade lemonade. No more. That’s it. Stop it now.
Hell, it’s so ‘not summer anymore’ that you can’t even wear white clothes after labor day. It’s against US law. You’ll be featured in the National Enquirer as a major fashion faux pas. I lived in New York for a while and witnessed the strict adherence to this rule aghast with disappointment and indignation. Not only were they depriving themselves of some of the best days of summer lovin’, but they were denying me them too.
As my role in New York at the time was as a struggling, angst-ridden singer/songwriter playing the bars on Bleaker Street, I wrote about it thus:
Here we are, it’s the first of September
So they say, summer is over.
I call my brother. We laugh together and he says:
“What if it’s really nice weather?”
Well i just might put on my white dress today
I would like things to be the way they were yesterday
Just that it rained
On labor day
doesn’t mean to say
summer is over…
Ah, it still makes me chuckle to think that I might wear a white dress after labor day. It makes me laugh to think that I might wear a white dress after the age of three to be fair.
This year, British Summertime ends on October 26th. Now that’s a bit more like it. That makes sense. It’s getting all fresh and crisp and the trees are turning and the air smells of woodsmoke and yes, we’re ready for Autumn.
Except my mum. She hates it when the clocks go back. “It’s dark when I get up and dark when I go to bed.” Rather than suggest she goes and lives in the land of the midnight sun, I call her as the clocks change to cheer her up with enthusiastic suggestions of all the delights winter brings us. Crisp, bright, clear days; warm, snuggly evenings; Jack Frost nipping at your nose. By February she’s usually buggered off to Southern Spain with Dad in the motorhome.
But it’s in my diary to call her anyway. And by then I too shall be ready to accept the new season. It’ll be easier for me this year. I’ll be calling from the private seclusion and relaxation of the poolside of my apartment in the avocado, mango and bamboo groves of the Andalucian Mountains. I’ll be on my summer holiday.