Stepping out of the warm taxi cab on Redchurch Street, I queued up behind two women dressed in bubblegum-pink crinoline skirts waiting to go up to the Terrace Roof Garden.
“Do you have reservations?” asked the hostess. They didn’t, and were asked to wait outside on the street to not block the queue. “Oh do we have to?” They whinged, “It’s so cold outside.”
Wondering quietly to myself how much warmer the crinolines imagined an exposed roof terrace six stories up might be, I was promptly shepherded into the lift taking me to where I was just about to find out. As I walked onto the roof, I felt the wind blow hard around me, which is probably why most of the guests were covered in wool blankets.
Wool blankets! In June! I kid you not!
This the game we play in England, I thought. We do things that make us feel like it’s summer, when it is so hopelessly not. Just who are we kidding exactly?
At 13 degrees centigrade, with the chilly air clawing icy fingers around us, sipping frosty cocktails on a roof terrace is the antithesis of summer relaxation, despite of the moderately attractive view of the Shoreditch rooftops that surrounded us. A 1st-world problem, I know, but seriously, what were we all doing up there like masochists?
After a few minutes, I was having none of it. “I’m not doing this”, I said with a determined smile, and beckoned the server with a wave of my hand.
“I’m freezing.” I said plainly. And before I could even ask to trade in our frosty seats for warmer surroundings, the server said: “So am I!”
Goose-bumped and shivering, we laughed for a moment before I said with the most serious look I could muster under circumstances I could only describe as absurd: “Try wearing a skirt.”
Dinner, thankfully, was in a warm basement restaurant. The lighting was low and forgiving. The wine was bold and fruity. The salmon and hollandaise was lovely. Even the crinoline brigade, now seated a few tables down, was having a cocktail-warmed whale of a time I can only describe as uproarious.
Now this is the British summer I know: inside, cozy and not so moderately inebriated. It might as well be the depths of winter outside we wouldn’t know, and for all meteorological indicators, it practically is!
And for those brief moments in our cozy caves of comfort, it doesn’t even matter if summer again doesn’t live up its empty promises, there’s always the England football team’s chances at Brazil 2014!
<deadpan>Please forgive me as I literally die laughing.</deadpan>
Still, I desperately needed a little sunlight today. Looking at milky grey skies outside only felt like a stark reminder that I do in fact live in England… where summer is all but a mere mirage of great expectations.