I love being able to sit outside in the evening with a glass of wine and a cigarette (yes, my hideous vice, no lectures please, I've heard them all and I will, I will give up, just not right now...).
I love being able to leave my thermal vest, jacket, hat, gloves and random shivering in the wardrobe, not to resurface for MONTHS.
I love wearing t-shirts and forgetting about socks.
I love the fact that the days extend well into the evening.
I love the sudden surge of people in the streets, the crowds gathered outside pubs and bars, the fact that people smile more, that homegrown versions of my favorite foods are available in the shops so I can eat as many strawberries as I like without worrying about my carbon footprint, and that I have a valid reason to eat ice-cream (like, I have to, it's SUMMER).
But summer has it's darker side.
Yes, I'm talking about grooming. That thing you can cheerfully ignore for the colder months. The waxing and the plucking can happily be put off - after all, who's going to see your gorilla legs under all those layers, plus there's the added advantage of the extra fur acting as very effective insulation (or is that just me? Oops). Who cares if your armpit hair gets long enough to plait? Who cares if you're so pasty white it gives passers-by snow blindness?
But then summer descends and with all that loveliness comes the challenge of skimpy clothes. All those pretty skirts and sandals winking at you from shop display windows. Those tight tops. Sunglasses. Foxy bikinis. Chunky jewellery. Raffia bags. It makes your heart sing with joy. Oh, how glorious I would look in that backless dress, you think. And then you try it on.
Your toes in those strappy high heeled sandals would put a hobbit to shame. Your curves in that dress go in and out in all the wrong places - thanks to a winter of sloth and all that warming comfort food. Your back is flakey and dull, with the odd spot acting as a cruel highlight. Under the changing room lights, your interesting pallor takes on a grey hue. Your calves are so neglected an onlooker could be excused for thinking you're wearing mohair tights.
And then you start thinking about your summer holiday - an uncomfortably short month or two away. In addition to the superfluous hair, the flaky skin, the spots, the midriff bulge, the lack of tan, you now have to think about cellulite and the fact that you won't be able to falsely advertise your wares with the help of a padded or an uplift bra (I have yet to find a swimsuit that both flattens my tummy and boosts my boobs, please please please let me know if you've got the solution).
It's now frantic action stations chez moi. An emergency dash to the chemist at lunchtime has netted me the following goodies:
- A bottle of something rather charmingly marketed as 'holiday skin' which promises me the glow without the streaking (yeah, right)
- A scary looking nobbly massage device which promises to smooth out my botty dimples (again, yeah right)
- A DIY waxing kit (ouch) plus a razor for all the tufty bits I am bound to miss in my waxing efforts
- Nail polish, orange sticks, cuticle killer, toe divider thingies, a foot file and a miracle ointment which is hyped to cure cracks, crevices and all other nasties
- A back scrubber
- Boob firming stuff
- Miracle oil for my stretchmarks
- Heavy duty body moisturiser to keep the flaky bits in one piece
Plus, I am mentally prepared to start on a regime of sit-ups.
I'm not entirely sure when I'm going to find the time to apply all these potions and I'm also troubled by recurrent thoughts of "horse... bolted... door". However, I am going to try, if only as a courteous act to those I come into contact with on a daily basis. After all, there is nothing worse than being on the Underground and having your face pressed into someone's hairy armpit, or looking down to see gnarled old hooves crammed into a pair of flip-flops.
We owe it to our fellow human beings to keep on the right side of hideous. We might have to cope with the embarrassment of looking like the missing link, but it's much, much worse for everyone else. After all, they have to look at it.
I'm booked into the bathroom this evening, probably for at least four hours if I want the heavy-duty makeover to be in any way effective. Wish me luck. Hopefully by tomorrow morning I will have shed my trollishness, rising from my snowy bedsheets like Aphrodite from the deep.