Michael Bywater's column: Tomorrow is another lovely day

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The Independent Culture
HE MUST have been mad. He must have been mad, or on something; they were all on something in those days but we can't talk; the Elizabethan age was entirely run by drunks. Didn't trust the water, you see. ("'Sblood, what time'st thou call this? Tha'st been a-Borough, not trusting the water with thy whoremonger cozens again.") As for the British Empire ... all drunk. All of them. Drunk and stoned. Opium, hashish, cocaine, booze ... the White Man's Burden was having to get the cork out of the bottle 15 times a day; if you didn't succumb to malaria or sprue, Frozen Shoulder would get you in the end. Who knows - we might have hung on to India if they'd invented the Screwpull in time.

What? Speak up. Well I don't know either. It's the heat. If I hear another fatuous dodgy "weatherman" talk about "another lovely day tomorrow" I will ... I don't know. What can you do about weathermen? The dull chaps who do the regional forecasts aren't so bad, a bit Alan Partridge in their Man At C&A tellywear; you know their wife doesn't like to be bothered much in That Way, so there's a lot of car-cleaning going on by way of displacement, and thumbing through caravan catalogues, and, God help us, fishing. But they're not so bad. They're like the boys at school who were interested in the weather. They probably are the boys at school who were interested in the weather. I mean, the weather isn't something you suddenly get interested in, later in life. It's not like bondage or claret or the Ottoman Empire or Buxtehude; by the time most of us hit early middle age, we've seen all the weather we're likely to see, and then it just comes round again and again.

But the weathergirls ... they weren't the girls at school who were interested in the weather. There weren't any girls at school who were interested in the weather, and even if there had been, they wouldn't have become weathergirls. The weathergirls were the ones we all thought were interested in boys, but we were wrong: they were interested in being on telly, and going out with other people on telly, and having a nice car and a rich husband and a house in the tasselled-loafer belt, with everything in it new and still smelling of the Heal's delivery van.

They should sack the lot of them. "Lovely day"? Who says "hot and humid" is "lovely"? By what right do they make this judgment? Have they not heard of relativism? Have they not been outside? Hot is not lovely. Hot is ... fretful. Summertime, frankly, will not do.

Summertime is tourists, blank-faced, bewildered, herded, frightened by plumbing and prices and our filthy Brit dog-food caffs and our surly, piss-orf disobliging manners; tourists who don't know quite where they are or why they have come here, but are clearly not enjoying themselves. And yet the Japanese will go home to their ghastly little Osaka hellholes grinning like Hallowe'en turnips and claiming to have had a lovely time; the Germans will burp their way home to Schicklegruber- am-Rhein where they will instantly head off to the local wife-swapping club and denounce our litter, our smell and our awful laxity in flushing the lavatory after 10pm (not allowed in Germany, and I suppose a people capable of leaving their flatulent Wurst-detritus to fester overnight are capable of anything); and the Americans ... do you know what, if someone invented a way of tattooing Americans all over with the rather declasse Burberry tartan, they'd make a fortune.

Summertime is sweat-stained middle-managers farting on the Tube. Summertime is Tube managers sitting at home in their gardens, taking their ease because they have no work to do, now they've closed down the Tube system. Summertime is yelping gutless junior bond-salesmen blocking the pavements, pissed and heat-struck. Summertime is grit and shouting, phoney twats heading for Tuscany, two-quid ice-creams of pig-fat and salmonella, fish-farmed salmon fermenting in its bottled mayonnaise, polyester suits, gits in shorts, their bellies wobbling over the top, their grey, pimply legs poking out of the bottom like Smithfield rejects. Summertime is the worst builders in the world, still sawing and hammering and drilling in the flat downstairs.

Summertime is the rats behind the wainscotting, the moths in the bathroom, the predatory frippets, all legs and oestrogen; it's road-rage and toilet frenzy, sunburn and heatstroke, red eyes and peeling noses, hay fever and armpit meltdown. Summertime is wrong. And yet ... "Another beautiful day tomorrow"? Feh.

Summertime ... and the living is what? He must have been mad, Gershwin, or on something. He must have been. Three days to the eclipse; with a bit of luck it will get stuck, and we can all relax.