“I love England in a heatwave. It’s a different country. All the rules change… People are more at ease- a couple of days of sunshine and we become Italians.” (Atonement)
I’m strategically lying on the hotel lounger in a fashion that aims to maximise my bronzing session, with a cocktail placed in one hand and Atonement in the other. I’ve just enjoyed the complimentary hotel ice cream and now, I can truly lose myself in my book. For the first time in a long time, I feel…calm, cool (despite the heat!) and collected.
Frankly, life in England, especially London, is chaotic. Perhaps it’s my own erratic nature but I am constantly on tenterhooks, running around trying to get all my ducks in a row. The only moments when I stop and realise my ducks are lining up nicely, is when I’m in Victoria Park feeding them.
In a stark comparison, holiday time seems to pause and drag out in an untroubled fashion. On the first day of the holiday, our tour guide Neil explains jokily about the Greek GMT- Greek Maybe Time.
“Greeks work on their own hour system; time is more of an accessory in the Mediterranean. So, don’t be surprised if the buses don’t arrive when the timetable says, they’ve been known to come 15 minutes to half an hour late.”
I think back momentarily to the London Underground, smiling. Whenever the District line is two minutes late, the platform does a collective sigh of frustration, myself included.
“Just take things as they come,”Neil adds assuredly.
I’ve always found taking things as they come an impossibility. Us British have to be ready for the wind, the rain and whatever else the clouds above throw upon us. Has our climate created a population which can’t just go with the flow?
As I return to England I am relieved to see that the weather is nearly on par with Greece and I begin to notice a change in people’s behaviour as the sun takes centre stage. I smile as a young city yuppy takes off his shoes and socks in London’s Grosvenor Square and plods along the grass, letting it thread in between his toes. It reminds me of the moment in Pretty Woman where Julia Roberts kicks off Richard Gere’s shoes and forces him to feel the grass underneath his feet. I walk into someone accidently as I clumsily wander along Regent Street and rather than scold me, I just get a warm, apologetic smile in return. The summer has brought sanguinity to England. It’s ironic, but the warm summer heat gives us that chill pill we all need once in a while.
In the words of Noah and the Whale: “ Sun sun sun -so what the heck!”