Claire Black: We need summer to survive November

Claire Black
Claire Black
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BENDING down to pick up the towel I’d accidentally dropped on my way from the shower to the bedroom, the loud guffaw of laughter was a bit unwelcome.

Apparently I had a vivid red stripe across the bottom of my back and, right enough, once this had been rather unsympathetically pointed out, I realised that actually my skin was a bit tender. Turns out last week I had caught a bit of sun – that fine Scottish euphemism which means I had suffered what others would regard as quite significant sunburn.

What made this even more embarrassing was that basically I was burned along what can only be described as my builder’s bum, which I had unwittingly exposed as my T-shirt (long-sleeved to keep the sun off my arms, ironically) rode up as I bent over on the allotment to howk the weeds (I’d like to take the opportunity to apologise to anyone who was deadheading or the like in the Pilrig area of Edinburgh and who was subjected to this unappealing sight).

With skin the colour of a pint of semi-skimmed and a tendency to develop prickly heat at the first sign of three continuous days of warmth, I am not exactly a natural advocate of hot weather. Add to this I have a genetic skin condition (it’s called epidermolysis bullosa simplex, a right mouthful as well as hideously inconvenient) which means my feet blister when they get hot, and given the fact that I have never ever enjoyed a barbecue, there is no-one who should be less pleased that summer seems to have finally arrived.

And yet, like a mahogany-coloured worshipper lolling on a lounger laughing in the face of Piz Buin, I confess I am delighted.

Obviously, if there’s been a sudden turnaround and the final of Wimbledon has been abandoned today because the roof is leaking, I am sorry for writing this, but the fact is that we need the summer. I mean, not just because we all need the opportunity to disapprove of those wags getting their “taps aff” at the first opportunity, but because psychologically we will struggle to survive November if we don’t get one.

That’s how it works as far as I’m concerned and I know it only more clearly and urgently as the rain falls more insistently and the talk turns to the risk of long hot summers becoming obsolete for us and frighteningly deadly in other parts of the world.

For us, it’s a question of store it now for use in a few months. We need to stock up on vitamin D, and our skill of eating oysters (the ice-cream variety) without dripping them down our fronts, and the sensory delight that is the smell of calamine lotion. We need to have our windows open without needing to wear a cardy and we truly deserve to be able to sit outside in the warm as the evening sun sets. Just for a week or two. Is it really too much to ask?

HOW much does Wayne Rooney earn? Enough that he can spend thousands of pounds on having some kind of exotic pelt woven into his balding pate. Or how about what Alesha Dixon bags for her role on Britain’s Got Talent? Or Amanda Holden? Without 
access to their bank statements I can guarantee that each of these three are grossly overpaid – I mean that relatively, compared with the average wage in this country which sits stubbornly at £26,500. And yet they’ve each been caught endorsing stuff – golf clubs, gym memberships and clothing labels respectively – on Twitter without declaring that they’re paid to do so. Why? How much cash do they need? Don’t they realise that when they tweet: “Oh wow, my new sink plunger from Lakeland Plastic is totally amazeballs!!!” we know that something is up? Come on, slebs, desist.

IT GIVES me enormous pleasure to congratulate Edinburgh City Council on securing a top ten place – seventh actually – in the Stonewall Education Equality Index. The council is the first Scottish local authority ever to appear in the top ten so it’s a very fine achievement indeed.

And when you consider that Stonewall’s School Report 2012, research conducted by the University of Cambridge, showed that more than half of lesbian, gay and bisexual people experience homophobic bullying in school, and three in five gay pupils who experience this kind of bullying say that teachers who witness it never intervene, it takes on an extra level of significance. It’s what I might call excellent work.

Twitter: @Scottiesays