by Hannah MacMillan
I’ll tell you what ladies and gents, I am in my element. As you probably know, the ‘annual two-week heatwave’ came and went like a fart in the wind. But my goodness, wasn’t it glorious?
Now, looking out the window at the grey skies, the scarce Scottish sun feels like a distant memory. I’m sure it happened; I was there. I felt the rare UV rays, I had a drink in the park, I got an ice cream. I still have the tan lines to prove it. Well, it’s more of an off-white tone, but the difference is there.
And I’m still getting some sort of serotonin-induced high from those 14 days of absolute bliss. I think most people do. Goals seem easier to achieve, conversation is chirpier, there is a stronger sense of positivity and community. It feels like those character peaks in the movies. The part where the lead gets the love of his life, when he walks through a park with complete strangers high-fiving him, the background music is some indie folk-rock song, and he has this smug grin on his face, knowing that life is just good.
I snap out of this revelation as I trample through the most common park booby trap of them all. Hopping over to the nearest grassy curb, I try to convince myself that it’s never the dog’s fault, only the owner’s. As I struggle to remove the smell from the tread of my shoes, I look up, and the American dream is well and truly shattered. This isn’t some cheesy rom-com movie set. This is Glasgow. The brutally honest, unashamedly authentic Glasgow.
Now, imagine the next part in my best David Attenborough impression:
Glasgow has always brought the most genuine and realistic sense of what true Scottish humour is. The difference is, this humour that we see on our screens so often is simply a Glaswegian’s natural habitat. During the bitter winter months, these adaptable yet stubborn creatures are used to the everyday dangers of harsh weather. Hail, ice, wind, rain, these sturdy individuals will stop at nothing to get to the local watering hole. But in the warmer months, a rare sight appears.
As the rays of the summer solstice start to break through the thick smog of stereotypical weather and global warming, Glaswegians raise their pale hands to shade their inexperienced eyes. A small group flee to find shade in a desperate attempt to avoid burning their milky skin, but the majority choose to thrive in it. The sudden urge to whip out picky bits for tea alongside a cheeky drink on a weekday would usually cause chaos in the typical nesting ground. But in these conditions, the Scottish develop a sense of freedom like no other. Though you may often see a Taps-Aff breed once or twice in colder conditions, swarms of them will gather on street corners with an array of calls and movements to attract females, often ending in disappointment. Beer gardens, once a peaceful smoking area for the Regulars, are over-run by After Work Pinters and First Student Summers. Even the 9-5 public transport route is suddenly teetering on madness. Here we see a regular commuter preparing for the journey home, unsure if his chosen carriage will be an air-conned spacious heaven, or a sweaty over packed nightmare.
But remember, it’s Glasgow. So it’s obviously the latter.
Though I tease terribly, I love Glasgow. Maybe the sun has really got to my head, but this is one of the first years I haven’t felt an urgency to disappear to another country for a week or two. Usually, I would be itching to jump on the next flight to wherever, but this year I have a sense of settling.
New flat, new job, new dog. Everything seems to be making sense. The parents and older generations in my life are whispering in my ear about mortgages, credit scores and ‘future plans’. And instead of cowering away in a corner convincing myself that youth hasn’t quite escaped me yet, I find myself thinking about what the best possible routes are to meet these adult chores.
No wait, what’s the phrase? Yes… ‘milestones in life’, that’s it.
Oh, to have one more childhood summer. The world really did feel invincible then. The last week of school with everyone talking about their up-and-coming holiday adventures. Those six weeks of freedom felt like an eternity. You could do anything you wanted, but nothing beat your first holiday abroad.
I think mine was Spain. You know, the traditional British/European experience. The white beach, the bars that sell paella and chicken nuggets. Acting drunk on mocktails made with half a bag of sugar, sipped through funny straws. But my highlight was my inflatable dolphin.
I’d begged my parents for it, promised the most angelic of behaviour for the rest of my life. It didn’t leave my side. It was big enough that you could lay on it, and there’s evidence somewhere of me sleeping with it on the balcony like it was a real pet. But those UV rays broke our friendship.
This experience truly convinced me that my skin is another level of pale. I was paddling in the ocean with my new best buddy for an hour or so. When I finally scrambled out to chase my mother’s calls for ice cream, nothing seemed wrong. But by the evening I couldn’t walk. The sun had burnt the tops of my thighs so badly that there were blisters all over them. The pain was another level. I was then stuck in our apartment – next to my inflatable dolphin.
From then on, it was clear I had inherited the true Scottish genes. By the time May comes around you can guarantee I have a bottle of factor-50 in my bag.
But summer will always be my favourite, and I hope this summer, you’ll find that childhood excitement again. Tan lines and all.