Thanks to the Government and Roy Hodgson, Summer as we know it might already be over

With 30,000 unprocessed passports and England out of the World Cup, it may as well be Autumn

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The Independent Online

I think I may have won the award for the most middle-class problem ever this weekend, when my cul-de-sac’s now annual street party clashed with the local village fete and I had to eat artisan sausages for three meals in a row, all washed down with a heady mixture of Pimm’s, Fuller’s beer and house-price gossip.

The area I live in straddles the border of Zone 3 on the Transport for London Tube map, and the 1950s, and so this is how we roll on the longest day of the year. At least it makes a nice change from sitting indoors watching the football, although supporting the England men’s team and organising any outdoor event in June in Britain require a similar triumph of hope over experience.

Anyway, that’s summer over for another year, apparently. As a bouncy castle slowly deflates in the turning circle and the neighbours unravel their children from yards of bunting while nursing perplexing Pimm’s and ale hangovers, they must accept that today begins the inexorable slide towards Christmas.

Yesterday was officially the summer solstice, and while some people marked the beginning of shorter days and darker evenings by chanting as the sun set over an ancient stone circle, we suburbanites watched the sun go down behind the latest loft conversion and recited to each other the rules of Building Regulations and Permitted Development.

Even before solstice eve, and with England still clinging on to World Cup hope, we knew that summer was really finished. We could tell, because Marks & Spencer was already sticking sale tickets on all its summer-weight trousers, because why on earth would anyone want summer clothes in Britain now that July is nearly upon us?

Perhaps all the people in charge of M&S are secretly Welsh, because in the Welsh language the word for July is Gorffennaf, meaning, literally, “end of summer”. Give it a week and they’ll be rolling out the new range of cashmere sweaters that are all really, really nice apart from some weird, sequinned blob of colour on the front that can’t be disguised even with a handy faux-fur collar fleecy wrap.

We also know that summer is over because the minister for tourism has given her word that the backlog of 30,000 passport applications will be dealt with before people want to go on their holidays (i.e. yesterday).

“I’m in no doubt, I’m very confident that people will get their passports,” said the Maidstone MP Helen Grant, who is currently in Recife (28C) watching the football. And then she added, demonstrating dazzling levels of confidence, that there is nonetheless “a lot to be said for the staycation”.

A “staycation”, for those who don’t know, is going to Rhyl or the Lake District with your entire family where it rains solidly for two weeks and you all eat chips and fall out. And then you say, oh well, at least we didn’t blow a fortune on tickets to Brazil.