Life

7 ways to make the most of your summer now the 'greyest election of our lifetime' is over

What to do with the weeks where Britain enjoys an actual summer? Joel Golby has a few ideas

British beaches, where everyone else's presence will annoy you. Image: Ellena McGuinness on Unsplash

Summer in Britain, the 10 or so days we get of it, is actually really good. Here’s one thing you can do: keep a four-pack of Twisters hidden in the freezer, wait until you’re alone at home, take one out and hold it to your forehead briefly, then eat it in silence on the sofa. Or: throw a water balloon out of a second-floor window while cackling and hiding. Ride a bike through the city while playing bad music very loudly off your phone. Or: drive a car around the city while playing bad music very loudly with the windows down.

Sadly all of this has been hijacked by one of the greyest general elections of our lifetime, but now Nigel Farage has been packed back into the special wooden box of hay he sleeps in when there’s not a hustings in Clacton to ruin, summer can properly start. Here are some things to do with it.

1. Go to a friends’ house for dinner without anyone ruining the conversation by trying to like Keir Starmer

An alarming number of my conversations this June were ruined by someone – slowly and unsurely and while making many, many handwringing caveats along the way – trying to justify that, well, you know, obviously he’s not the best Labour leader we’ve ever had, or a particularly charismatic or likeable one, or one with any policies, but ah. Well, you know. This is no longer necessary, so I am open to invitations to chic casual candlelit dinners in people’s gardens again. I’ll bring a dense bean salad and a good bottle of chilled red and nobody is allowed to say “Angela Rayner” to me all night. 

2. Urinate in the sea

It is important to commune with the sea during the British summer, at least once, at least a paddle, because otherwise you’ve not really done summer at all. Only while you’re out there… you’re going to. Obviously. You’ll never admit to anyone that you did, but you will. It’s just you, out there, alone, bobbing in this huge freezing soup. And you’ll do one. It’s fine, it’s fine. I won’t tell anyone. But you’ll do one.

3. Say, ‘Can you believe it’s still light out?’ As if you’ve never experienced British summer time before in your life

A good way to instantly ruin this marvel is to immediately follow up with, “Of course, with the solstice done, the days are already getting shorter.”

4. Go to a beach, lido, pool or park on the most beautiful sunny Saturday in existence and be surprised and annoyed to find other people there

I constantly secretly suspect I am the only person who’s noticed that it’s nice out today and it might be good to pack a little coolbox of sandwiches and go to the park only to discover that it’s full of other people, and all of them have a Bluetooth speaker and an annoying laugh and are always throwing a frisbee way too far and stomping through other people’s picnics to retrieve it. If you’re not in the exact mood for that, I can tell you from experience it’s better to stay at home with the curtains closed and watch The Godfather

5. Attend a BBQ, eat five burgers, not help to clean up even at all, go home and sleep better than you ever have in your life

People can broadly be divided neatly into two personality types: people who like hosting BBQs (they like an excuse to ‘tidy the garden’, they like clicking tongs, they like a big preparatory supermarket shop, they like waking up early to get the charcoal going) and people who like going to BBQs (one bag of crisps for the party, Hawaiian shirt you can’t tell is a joke or not, leave with profound sunburn). Figure out which of them you are and behave accordingly. I am a to-the-bones BBQ attender – I’m going to show up, eat more meat for one person than you previously thought possible, pick through the condiments like a mean Masterchef judge (“No Heinz?”), and leave without saying goodbye. You can’t get mad at me, it’s in my nature. 

6. Pretend you have sunstroke for attention

A really good thing to do if someone more popular than you is having summery birthday drinks is to pretend to go a bit wobbly and light-headed and faint until one person runs to get you an iced glass or water and two more move you to the shade and look after you until you ‘feel normal’ again. Just quite a fun, free way of making the day about you. 

7. Take a single day off without telling anyone and just lie in the park undisturbed

Finish this off by reading a book alone in a beer garden for the duration of three pints before fish and chips and, if you’ve got the control for it, exactly one cigarette, and that’s it. That’s what summer looks like when Rishi Sunak isn’t trying to be relatable over the top of it.

Four Stars: A Life Reviewed by Joel Golby is out now (£16.99, HarperCollins). You can buy it from The Big Issue shop on Bookshop.org, which helps to support The Big Issue and independent bookshops.

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