All photos by the author
Inevitably, summer is coming. Those waterlogged fields in Berkshire are starting to dry up, and people in the southernmost parts of Scotland are starting to see the sun for the first time in nine months. There's plenty of room here to cite some recent articles about heatwaves, climate change and girls wearing shorts, but you're not basement dwelling Redditors or people who review metal records on YouTube, you've been outside in just a T-shirt already this year, you don't need to be babied.
In fact, given that you're all such sophisticated young adults, we can afford to skim over park etiquette right now. If for some strange reason you haven't got this yet, here's the bare bones of how to conduct yourself in a park:
– Stereo = dickhead
– Ukulele = dickhead
– Guitar = dickhead
– Bongos = dickhead
– Sitting in a circle = dickhead
– Disposable BBQ = dickhead
– Upturned bin = dickhead
– Trying to impress children by curling their footballs back to them = dickhead
Now we're clear on the basics, let's firm up a few other summer-related issues that you might not be so au fait with.
Don't Be the Guy Who Doesn't Wear Shorts
I mean, do what you want, this isn't North Korea, but c'man guy, we already established in the intro that you're not an adolescent messageboard shut-in, why be so self-conscious? Who do you think is analysing your calves?
However appalled by your knees you think girls are going to be, they're going to be doubly appalled by what a wet blanket you're being about not getting them out in the sun like a normal, healthy person who likes fun. If you're trying to cultivate an air of mysterious sophistication and you think that exposing your little schoolboy knees will kill your "personal brand", just remember that 9 times out of 10, "mysterious sophistication" comes across as "sweaty fuck with no friends". So why not drop the bullshit, put on some above-the-knee cut-offs (you don't wanna look like you're in Less Than Jake) and enjoy the feeling of fresh air on your balls?
If you're a first time shorts-wearer, you've probably got some concerns about what else you can wear with shorts. The answer is: you can wear anything, with a few exceptions: no suit jackets (but you shouldn't be wearing a suit jacket in your leisure time anyway, you're not Scandinavian), no flip flops (ever, with anything) and no boots that make you look too much like a suburban Pantera fan.
Some Additional Summer Sartorial No-Nos to Bear in Mind
While we're on the subject of fashion, let's discuss a few style woopsies people seem to be making at the moment, and see if we can prevent them from turning our 2014 summer photo albums into laughing stocks for years to come.
− Bucket hats are essentially rap fedoras, let's abort them now.
− Skinny shorts on men need to be expunged from history, as they make it really easy for people to picture what you'd look like naked except for a T-shirt and socks, AKA the most unattractive a man can ever be.
− The recently popularity of vests has been a failed experiment, no one wants to see your spider-y pit pubes and they make you look like one of the Satanists from True Detective.
− Talking of Satanists, Essex is onto the buttoned-up-to-the-top polo shirt look, so it's time for the rest of us to cut that thing loose, although I will concede it did make us all look very smart for a few summers.
− John Lennon style sunglasses have been making a tentative comeback, it's probably best they don't, eh?
Travelling Through the City in the Summer
We should all make a pact to quit non-essential public transport between May 1st and September 1st every year, because riding bikes in the sun is as close to heaven on earth as it gets, and even at 7AM it will make you feel whatever Labradors feel when they put their head out of car windows. The wind in your hair, carving playfully through traffic, some mild endorphin release and moderate cardiovascular exercise – wait a second, have you suddenly become Wil Wheaton's character in Stand By Me?
If the ever-growing cyclist body count on big city roads has made you a cycling scaredy-cat (absolutely no shame in that), try to remember that most of those deaths have occurred because of HGVs, and ultimately all you have to do to not die is get off your bike and walk when you see those fuckers coming. Also, all that stuff about helmets not making a difference is nonsense, wear them and deal with looking like a dork for 20 minutes. If you're not convinced, put "traumatic brain injury" into YouTube, that should bum you out enough to buy a helmet.
Let's Find an Alternative to Festivals
As we all know from watching Monica Gellar drive Chandler Bing to painkiller addiction over the last few years of Friends, people who are into organised fun fucking suck. If we didn't learn it from Friends, we might have learned it from how only rugby cunts like drinking games, the attendees of Club 18-30 are human chlamydia and work parties are never just referred to as "parties".
With this in mind, why is everyone so excited about festivals all the time? Don't all the logos and security make you think that you're less part of an alternative culture itself and more just an attendee at an alternative culture-themed theme park? And what about the holographic tickets and promo girls giving out free Ting? Doesn't that stuff smell a little bit like the rotting corpse of the 60s turning in its grave to you? Don't you think that if Trainspotting were remade in 2014, Renton's "Choose Life" speech about the monotony of middle-class existence might be updated to include: "Choose refreshing your browser on the Glasto website. Choose bodypaint and top hats. Choose meeting Bez and then talking about meeting Bez for the rest of the weekend"? Aren't you sick of going to these things and bumping into your parents' friends?
Festivals aren't just turning us all into corporate shills, they're becoming a destination for old people, TOWIE shitheads, MIC shitheads, "account executives" in their myriad forms and worst of all, people without any imagination, and that's completely shit and boring. What's the answer to all this? Well, you could go do your own thing with your friends. It's not often that it seems reasonable to side with a hippie, but this kid seems to be onto something.
Let's Go Somewhere Weird
You're young, as sexy as you're ever going to be and relatively free of responsibilities: summer should be a time for horny, dangerous adventure, given that the rest of the year it's too cold to leave bed, and in ten years you'll only be able to go to places it's safe to take children. Now's the time to go stay in some dodgy hotels or get lost in an Eastern European forest, because we don't have National Service to provide adventure for us any more and there are no un-climbed mountains left in the world.
If you're willing to forgo comfort and spend a few hours hanging out on the internet arranging things, you can get anywhere in Europe and stay for a week for £300, less if you're smart. If you skip a single festival weekend, you've paid for it.
Top tip: everyone can speak perfect English in Budapest, it's really beautiful and sunny and everything is dirt cheap.
That Tricky Work-Life Balance
Summer makes everything fun: walking home from a club at dawn is an exercise in enjoyable melancholy and even a T-shirt-and-shorts trip to the corner shop can make one's heart sing – but work's still there, ruining everything.
Urgh, work is the worst, isn't it? It is, however, worth turning up to, as it pays for all sorts of things like food and rent, and gets you out of bed by giving you a series of tasks to complete every day, so you can't give it up just because it's now entirely possible to traipse around street drinking until 5AM without getting cold. So, as soon as the sun starts to shine for more than three hours a day, it's worth finding a spot in that middle ground between "unfettered wild abandon that will get you fired" and "joyless Randian workhorse mode".
The key to this is to trick yourself into thinking you're on holiday, but not on holiday with the MDMA-addled shitheads you usually hang out with, on holiday with your friend's nerdy parents who expect you to be up in the morning to go look at some museums and ruins and stuff. So, a couple of outside cervezas in moderation become fine, even at lunch time, and evening fun begins at an al fresco dinner and ends at 10PM, not because of work, but because of the imaginary spectre of your friend's mild mannered but bookish and conservative parents who've taken you on an imaginary boring sight-seeing holiday that relaxes you and lets you enjoy the season but also grounds you and helps you maintain a degree of work-ready sobriety at the same time.
Or, if you think that was fucking nonsense and you're not really into playing bizarre mental games with yourself, wearing shorts to work and eating lunch outdoors as often as possible really helps you not hate your job in the summer.
Summer Hook Ups
Finally, some tips on summer lovin':
− Don't have sex at a festival after the first night, unwashed genitals smell terrible, this is rookie stuff.
− We can all see you having sex in the sea, even from far back on the beach it doesn't look like you're just in deep conversation while embracing.
− If you're having sex at home in the summer, open the windows and keep some water by the bed, otherwise you'll end up exhausted before you finish.
− If you meet someone on holiday, don't force all your friends to hang out with them all week too, she lives in Dublin and her favourite band is the Foo Fighters, you're never going to see her again after Sunday. Your friends came here to relax, not watch a soap opera starring two sunburnt drunk people who think they're in love.
− If you have a wank in the summer heat with a hot laptop near you, you're going to smell of sweat and cum to your housemates. Go have a shower, you godless little boy.
Follow Robert on Instagram: @bobfoster83
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