Jayne Dawson: Time to enjoy the absence of everything while it lasts

I'm a late convert to summer. For the longest of times I believed one month was much like another, because what was happening outside the window didn't really matter.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 27th July 2016, 9:37 am
Updated Wednesday, 27th July 2016, 10:39 am

What does weather have to do with anything, I would ask the world. But quietly, so that no-one could hear.

Plus, I knew that summer was just not my season. It felt like an ill-fitting frock; mostly it was an ill-fitting frock. It’s so hard to do summer. No garment ever combines the right shape, colour and length. With sleeves.

But life has changed me. It would be tedious to go into detail, but let’s just say I now find myself a woman for all seasons - and I am looking forward to August.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

December used to be my month of excitement: the baubles, the dark, the glitter, the drink. I still love it, though in more of a telly, chocolates, tea, fluffy socks kind of a way.

But August has me in its thrall now. This is a month full of a different kind of excitement, a month when the world hangs up a “gone fishin’ ” sign.

August is quiet, a bit limp, a bit lackadaisical, a bit can’t be bothered, and a lot back-endish.

In August it is possible to schlep down deserted streets, wander around snoozing shopping malls, drive down roads not gridlocked.

Because August is all about absence, about what is not happening, about who is not there.

Politicians, for instance, are not there. Now is the time when our elected representatives turn back into people who are happy to keep their opinions to themselves.

This year I expect many of them to spend August lying in a darkened room with a wet cloth on their forehead, asking themselves: “What just happened.?” There will be no answer. I like politics. I find it entertaining, and I think it is important business. But it’s good to have a breather.

Decent television is also not there. Don’t bother to switch it on, is my advice. Except for Versailles, about which more elsewhere. Oh, and Bake Off, if that starts in August.

But you know what I mean. The good new stuff won’t begin until all the teachers are back from their camping holidays in France; the BBC will be saving its Sunday night costume drama for when the evenings are long and dark; the soaps will be squirreling away their proper shockers until Christmas. So take the opportunity to weed the garden or read a book.

Schools are notable for their absence in August, and this is a major part of what makes the month so good. When school is out the journey to work is a thing of free-flowing joy.

So great is the change, it is possible to remain in bed an extra ten minutes, and still arrive at work on time. Plus, since all the teachers are on their camping holidays in France, it will be at least September until we read about another survey revealing the impossible stress under which they work.

August is made beautiful by another absence - the absence of central heating. Summer is a series of small triumphs against the energy companies. In June and July you will barely switch on an electric light. Every bulb in your house could go and you would not know it. Your days of standing confused in the bulb aisle, trying to work out what 400 lumens is in old fashioned money, are weeks away.

In August, you may have to flick the odd switch, but not the one that operates your central heating. By this month, a combination of sun and pollution has warmed our cities to the point where a cardigan is enough to take off the chill. It is energy firms who call August the wicked month.

And then there is fashion, which does not exist in August. Unless you are the type to buy your winter coat while the sun is still cracking flags.

But in any case, those discounted and bedraggled items littering the stores, they are not worth your time.

Save yourself for better things. Wander home and enjoy the absence of everything, while it lasts.