The People You’ll Meet (And Wish You Hadn’t) This Summer
The men you might want to avoid as the weather warms up
A common mistruth about summer is that it brings out the best in us. Few things could be further from the truth. Summer might be fun, warm and generally uplifting, but as soon as temperatures reach 16°C, it brings out a host of inexplicable character changes that, along with heat rash and hayfever, are hard to navigate without prior warning or abject terror. With that in mind, here are some of the best-known and unsettling characters you’re likely to cross this season.
The serial barbecuer
The thing about barbecues, he says to anyone who’ll listen, is that you can cook anything on them. Anything. Sentient, ambient, expired, still moving, quite possibly. It doesn’t matter what it was, it’s now grilling, slowly, on his Weber Master-Touch with a retractable hood. Just don’t ruin the afternoon by putting a vegetable kebab on it. The trick, he says, is a little pre-salting, his dad’s 24-hour marinade and absolutely no one else going near the grill in case they balls it up. He’d sooner wee in a bottle than leave it unmanned. Call him old-fashioned, but it just brings back memories. The dulcet tones of “Hey Ya!” coming from his Spotify. Holding an umbrella over his head while it rains. The fridge full of cold, uneaten chops for weeks. The threat of gout. Last night, he dreamed he had Thyla barbecue tongs for hands. Ah, good times. Good times.
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The one who gets really into summer sports
It’s just an embarrassment of riches, isn’t it, mate? A real feast of sport. They’re spoiling us. He’s upgraded the Sky package and, boy, is it worth it. He’s got a new couch installed as well. You can’t leave anything to chance. You’ve got the World Cup, Queen’s, Wimbledon, and that’s just for starters. For him, July is where it gets really interesting. He’s talking about the Tour. De France, that is. That’s the real deal. Those guys. The stamina, the skill. It’s just the ultimate test, isn’t it? He knows what you’re going to say – he who cheats best wins – and he’s got a lot of time for that argument. He was reading Mr David Walsh’s reporting on Mr Lance Armstrong long before most, but he can’t help but think it’s a sport reformed. He will be glued to that sofa all summer long. And we haven’t even mentioned the Open, Silverstone or the cricket yet.
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Beaches, carnivals, parks, cans of beer, cocktails, ice creams, beaches, a jug of Pimm’s, frisbee, beaches. They’re on his Instagram feed every other minute. He’s having a great time, OK? A really great time. Wish you were here. My office today (picture of a beach). Summer vibez. Just chillin. Finding my centre. Bag of cans. Parklife! Did you see his insta story? It was great, just basically panning around the pub, out in the garden, everyone was there. Do you want to see it? Course you do! Is there a void somewhere, a void he is trying to fill with 900 pictures of the blue sky? Better ask his partner.
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The one who ignores the weather entirely
“Heatwave!” scream the newspapers as the thermometer nudges above 20°C for the first time. For our man indoors, that’s the cue to pull down the blinds, turn the lights off and get the PS4 humming. This damn weather isn’t what we were made for. What are they thinking wearing shorts in the city? Soon the rain will return and with it, a mirror to his soul. Until then, any (enforced) trips into the land of the sun will find our man charting a course between patches of shade, the factor 60 applied to create a white creamy barrier between him and the world. He returns home and somehow his neck is red, his face a lurid shade of pink. Oh, winter, when, oh when will you return?
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The one who doesn’t sober up until October
Like the Mongol armies of the 13th century, his war cry can be heard long before he’s entered the fray. “WHEYYYYYYYYY!” There it is. The yawp, aka the official sound of Pete’s Summer Bender. Pete has been drinking every evening since the clocks went forward “because it’s summer and that’s what summer is about”, a sentiment he is considering getting tattooed down his leg. And today, says Pete, greeting the party in his away kit, the traditional 24-pack hoiked up on his head with one arm, gunning at everyone and no one with his other hand, today is no different. Pete is the first to arrive and the last to sleep. Pete opens cans with his teeth. Pete is never in the kitchen at parties. The real question, ask concerned friends, is not how he does it but why. Is it FOMO? Or is it YOLO? Or is it that Pete is summer? Something to mull over on these long evenings.