On the occasional full day of warm sun here, the English revel in it. If it happens during the work week, they fill every available green space from luxurious Kensington Gardens to no-name grass patches near busy intersections at lunchtime. They lounge in the grass soaking up every ray they can get as soon as they’ve scarfed down their sandwiches. The reluctant return to work is mitigated by the unanimous departure at half four in the afternoon, whereupon they return to the park. They stay put until well after sunset with their tender white skin exposed, gleefully turning pink while they swig wine or cider or Pimms or good old-fashioned lager. (Or bad old-fashioned lager.) If the day fortuitously occurs at the weekend, they simply spend the entire day in the same green patch, which they may sacrifice righteously to the coals of a barbecue at sunset.
I love watching them do it. Californians are so blasé about sunshine. It makes me a bit ashamed to remember how I often spent days running from one air-conditioned building to the next to avoid it. The English take no sunshine for granted, and their exuberance when it appears is in itself a joy to behold.
I found this earring on an early morning walk to work the day after of those rare days. I picture the girl who owned it walking fast, her brown legs offset by the favourite pair of shorts that she hardly ever gets to wear without tights underneath. She’s swinging bags full of picnic things –a blanket, cheese, olives, chocolate, two bottles of cheap pink wine. Her mobile rings – it’s one of the friends she’s meeting – and in the struggle to move the bags to one hand and get the phone from her purse to her ear, the earring flies off. She regretfully pockets the other, because that was one of her lucky pairs, but as it turns out she didn’t need it because she pulls the boy she was after anyway.