I don’t know if the news has reached you yet, guys, all the way over there in Australia, but the sun is finally out over here in dreary ol’ England. ‘Spring has sprung, the grass is riz…’ etc. We’re shaking out the moths from our summer dresses and blowing the dust off our thongs/flip-flops and getting sunburnt and just generally making spectacles of ourselves.
Today (well, yesterday, now that I’m getting round to typing this up) I managed to spend approximately 3 hours and 46 minutes, 38 seconds in the sun. Give or take a moment or two. But, really, who’s counting. In fact, I’m currently composing this blog post with a purple texta on the back of a script whilst sitting on a park bench in front of a pond in Clapham Common because the thought of going home and typing it up on my computer in my stuffy apartment is so horrifying that my body is shutting down and entering panic mode at the merest mention of the possibility of going inside (its ok, body, we’re not going anywhere).
Those who knew me back home will know I haven’t always been the most enthusiastic embracer of the sun. During summer I was as likely to react to a sunny day with, ‘What? Another sunny day? Do I really have to go frolic outside and make the most of it AGAIN? I did that yesterday! Why can’t I make the most of a miserable, cold cloudy day with a mug of hot chocolate, blanket, sofa and a good book for once?’ I moaned about my inability to think, or do anything useful once the thermostat hit 30 degrees, citing the highly questionable Equatorial Paradox theory as my proof of my inability to do anything useful. Oh how I longed to live in a place where the sun didn’t burn 15 hours a day and melt my brain into mush and fry all my creative instincts and where I could sit indoors composing this generation’s ‘War and Peace’ without some sunburnt person dressed in offensively little clothing interrupting and, as they shake the sand and dried up pieces of salt water out of their hair and all over me, exclaim, “WOULD YOU LOOK AT THAT SUN? WHY ARE YOU INDOORS? WHY DON’T YOU GO OUTSIDE AND MAKE THE MOST OF IT?” (hey, newsflash, Australians, its pretty much always sunny where you live and if that hole in the ozone keeps getting bigger and climate change keeps chuggin’ on the way that it has been – and has anyone seen any signs that it won’t? – its probably only going to get sunnier and hotter. Therefore, it is probably possible to let a few – A FEW – sunny days go by now and then without having to MAKE THE MOST OF THEM and you’ll still all, collectively, be ok. I doubt you will be on your death bed thinking, ‘Oh, gosh darn, if only I hadn’t stayed indoors on that particularly sunny 17th of April. I’m sure there would have been a delightfully entertaining frisbee game or hopscotch match I could’ve partaken in if I had only had the wherewithal to step outside and MAKE THE MOST OF IT.’ The way some of you panic at the sight of a person indoors on a sunny day, one would assume you expected the sun to be about to take a long journey to the furthest reaches of the known universe, perhaps only to return in a millenia or two).
However, now that I live in England, I have realised that a crappy climate and being stuck indoors all the time doesn’t naturally lend itself to creative pursuits. It does, however, naturally lend itself to moping, TV-watching, chocolate eating and near-constant refreshing of your Twitter and Facebook pages in the desperate hope that through the internet you might somehow claw back some joy, happiness and zest for life by viewing gamboling kittens and amusing celebrity fashion faux pas.
Consequently, over the past two and a half years, I have become a sun-worshipper. I create Twitter playlists in praise of the sun. I check the BBC’s hourly weather forecasts obsessively for any changes. I think that Majorca holiday ads on the telly are speaking directly and exclusively to me. I dream about sunburn (I LONG to put my skin cells in trauma). When its not sunny, I buy summer dresses to make me feel better and to make it seem like summer is just around the corner. When the sun is out, goddamn it, if I don’t go outside with the best of them and MAKE THE MOST OF IT AS IF MY LIFE DEPENDED ON IT. I am agressive in my making the most of it. I power-walk to the park. I push people out of the way in my desperation to get the sunniest park-bench. I am proactive. I waste no minutes. When the sun comes through my window and wakes me up at 6am, its all I can do to stop myself running outside in my PJ’s to MAKE THE MOST OF IT before it all goes away again.
I made the mistake of staying indoors on Tuesday (which was deliciously, delightfully, obscenely sunny), because I had work to do. I kept saying to myself, ‘I’ll go outside as soon as I am done.’ And as I worked, I kept looking at Facebook and Twitter, reading everyone else’s updates about their current summery, sun-friendly activities. I’d do a bit of work and then I’d get distracted for half an hour by Twitter and then I’d do some work and then get distracted for half an hour by Facebook and before I knew it, it was 4pm and I had to go to rehearsal and I hadn’t been outside for the entire day and nor could I argue that on any level, I had ‘MADE THE MOST OF IT.’ I ended the day so angry at everyone, but most specifically at myself and Mark Zuckerburg – who I was convinced had created Facebook all those years ago with the SOLE PURPOSE of distracting me from the first beautifully sunny day of 2013.
Today (yesterday) when the sun came out, I approached it differently. I got dressed in record time. I took the small amount of work I had to do (learn 3 pages of lines) to the park. I sat on a bench and I took out my script… and then I put it back in my bag and I stared at the sun on the ripples of the pond instead. I watched the geese float one way and then float back the other. I watched dogs come and drink from the pond and I watched other dogs jump into the pond and then get out again. I watched kids make out with other kids on benches nearby. I watched cyclists slowly circle the pond. I watched children feed the ducks. I watched one mother set up her son in his pram, facing the pond, and then throw the bread in front of him so that the ducks would come up and eat it where he could see it (on a side note, when did feeding the ducks become a child spectator sport? Just give the damn bread to the damn child, woman, and let him feed the damn birds). I sat, in the sun, and did absolutely bloody nothing for hours. And I was in no way bored. I was in no way anxious or unhappy as I often am when I’m on the computer. I didn’t feel like there were hundreds of things I had to do and I wasn’t getting any of them done. I had one thing to do – learn some lines – and I would get to that. Eventually. Once I had made the most of the sun.
An hour or so later, I finally took out my script and set about learning the lines. It was the end of my play that is going on in Brighton, and its been worrying me a little bit. Things weren’t quite working. I’d tried to re-write it a few times, but none of the re-writes had worked either. But, then, there in the sun, I suddenly knew what was wrong. I fixed everything in a matter of minutes, and half an hour later, I had the lines down. I put the script back in my bag and went back to staring at the life circling the pond. A topless man carrying a beer can yelled over his shoulder. 10 minutes later, a fish jumped out of the water. The ripples changed shape and intensity. The shadows of the trees grew longer on the grass. And that’s about it. I didn’t need anything else. I didn’t need any distractions. I didn’t bring a book; I didn’t bring a magazine; I tried to listen to my iPod but it ran out of battery 2/3 of the way through a song, so instead I just sat on the bench and enjoyed the sun.
And it was glorious and wonderful and the whole day made me feel much more productive and healthy than the past 4 months I’ve spent inside, in front of my computer, getting distracted by Les Mean Girls tumblrs and satirical covers of Gangnam Style.
So. In conclusion. The indoors sux. The equatorial paradox theory is crap. Sunshine is inspiring and invigorating. Make the most of it, Australia, because not everyone in the world is as lucky as you.