29 June 2008

The Longest Day


Some wet grass, yesterday.

As the years begin to pass like hours, the little things make all the difference. The summer, that season once spent running around the streets and parks of a nineteen-eighties Leeds suburb, no need for the bodywarmer with the ‘BMX’ patch stitched onto one side, in which any given day was but a drop in a limitless horizon, has now essentially been distilled to a single day.

Much as the winter is defined by that ultimate headache of New Year’s Eve, the invariably disappointing peer-pressure-cooker, I now consider the summer essentially over once the days pass that June 21st apex and begin their inevitable slide from blazing heyday toward the grey land of compromised mediocrity.*

I associate with certain individuals who feel positive affect for the autumn and winter months; they are people who actively enjoy wearing clothes and as a result are not to be trusted. The winter is a dread time during which daylight is smothered under the leaden cowl of vespertine hoarfrost, when steam issues forth from the fresh stab-wound you suffered while cutting through the park that had embraced you with rolling, albeit litter-strewn, verdure just a few short months prior.

Winter and its months of increasing cold are a psychic prison writ on the landscape: rather than revel, the best one can hope for is to make do, under the circumstances, and other very British turns of phrase. I’m torn as to whether I loathe the cold or darkness more. The dark does have a certain allure, I must admit, with its anything-goes connotation and whatnot. Sadly, the context of modern day England means ‘anything’=’puke’ and ‘goes’=’being pressed against people with appalling taste in music in a terrible bar because the good places are so full they’re turning people away’.

There is the compensation of feeling a level of snug comfort not attainable at any other time, peering through frosted window onto a vista almost beautifully still, but that falls within the aforementioned genre of ‘under the circumstances’.

I digress. Back in April, when I last saw Boris, I mentioned to an associate that we were but two months away from the days making that despairing retreat into shadows. It’s indubitable that as one grows older, the years seem shorter; in these terms they are reduced to an uncomfortable degree. Rather than sit about and complain about inexorable annual developments, I resolved to make the most of this years Midsummer.

Sadly that was not to be. As has become the fashion of the last brace of summers, the promised scale of daylight was compromised by the fact of the massed cloud plunging the day into murk. Fanciful ideas of relaxing on a field and taking it all in were extinguished by the diaphanous veil of rain that had made its home over Leeds.

A couple of companions and I drove out to Roundhay Park, a microcosmic idyll on the leafy north eastern rim of the city I visit all too rarely. In the knowledge that the park itself was out of bounds, lest we be reduced to wallowing in the mud like a set of maniacs, we paid a visit to an old haunt, the fabulous Harpo’s Pizza, whose move out of Headingley has left a void of quality.

So it was with Harpo’s meat feast (oo-er) pizza in hand that we retreated to the car under the bombardment of precipitation and sat facing the aforementioned park. Radio 2 was on the stereo and it dawned on me that Suzi Quatro is not far off being the female equivalent of Bob Dylan in the awesome DJ stakes. What her play-list lacked in variety was ably compensated by Quatro’s knowledge and enthusiasm for what she was playing. It’s no Theme Time Radio Hour, but what is?

After all my banging on about the negativity of the British summer, this particular case of making-do was very enjoyable. I’m fond of a nice bit of rain, and as it fell over the pretty lush Roundhay Park, I regretted the absence of a camera to capture the exterior surrounding the tranquillity felt in my humours. The rainy day is actually my favourite type; resentment only really boils over when it takes the place of sun for too long, or doesn’t fall in sufficient concentration.

While the day’s light wasn’t quite as strong as I had hoped, it turned out well enough. Edified and nourished, I was able to watch the dying of the light, with little in the way of rage, from a comfortable window seat in the wholesome Roundhay Fox. Sometimes making do isn’t so painful.

Tipsarevic Watch: Rooting is paying off, as the mighty Tipsarevic has slain Andy Roddick and Dmitri Tursunov in quick succession. Excellent.

* Not that the British summer can be characterised as anything other than grey mediocrity for the most part.

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