I am not really a summer person. I hate it, truth be told. The heat. Being sticky. Travelling on the tube where it gets so hot, you actually feel as if you have taken a detour and have ended up passing through the bowels of Hell. Fat men in sandals. It’s totally not my bag.
I can never understand it when come about May time, everyone gets all excited and says something like “Ooooh, the sun will be here soon.”, when quite clearly we all know the UK summer sun normally makes an appearance for about three days in July, and then goes on vacation for the rest of the year. We get oppressive heat, we get humidity, but we never really seem to get the long stretches of sunshine like I remember as a child.
Whenever someone starts getting excited about the onset of summer, I always retort that I am a winter person, and I normally get looked at like I have just stripped naked, smeared baby oil all over myself, and am now dancing solely for your pleasure.
“Are you mad?” I would get asked. “But it’s always so dark, so miserable, and so cold!”
And that is exactly why I love winter. I get excited around this time of year, when the air gets that little bit crisper, when the nights start drawing in that little bit sooner. To me it is heaven, as I know fairly soon It will be in my favourite time of year again, those long winter months.
There are numerous reason as to why I love winter. I love how it brings everybody together. Without going into too much personal history, I have never really had a family. My parents died when I was in my teens, and I have grown up since then not really experiencing what you would call a "family life". But when I do think back to my childhood, I can always remember bitterly cold winters where we would all be safely cocooned in our home, heating blazing, every light in every room on, and us all together as a family, eating, talking, laughing, and all of this because of the cold weather outside. It makes you want to seek out other people. To gather everyone around you and create your own warmth through connecting. And that is one of the things I miss most today. I miss that warmth; I miss the light and the laughter that those all too brief moments provided me. I miss the comforting sound of there being somebody else in another room.
I remember I had some friends round to stay about five years ago. I left them early to go to bed, but as I got into my room, I could hear them talking and laughing downstairs and realized it had been so long since I had heard anything like that. Normally when I went to bed, all I could hear was nothing but silence. It made me think about when I was a child, being safely snuggled under my blankets, the hallway with it’s bright light my island of calm. The sound of my parents talking, or just the sound of the TV. Knowing if I needed them, all I had to do was call out and my dad would come bounding up the stairs. I think that is the main reason why I love winter so much. Because it connects me to a time that I normally feel so adrift from.
I love walking along a street and seeing the light blazing out of peoples living rooms. Sometimes you can see in, and it nearly always resembles a scene similar to the one I have just described from my own childhood. That light, that warmth, that sense of togetherness. I will be honest and admit it does occasionally make me sad to see this, but also in a strange way it makes me happy as well. Because I can see with my very own eyes that I am not the only person who has ever experienced this. I just hope I am not the only person who can realize how special it is as well.
Wintertime is also an insanely romantic time to me. There is a sense of incredible beauty in the streets that can’t be equalled at any other moment. I don’t know how many of you have ever seen London at winter, but it is surely a place made for that time of year. The slate grey sky, the architecture looming magnificently over you, the very brickwork that London is made of seems to take on an extra air of grandeur once the temperature starts to fall.
London in the winter can sometimes seem a very melancholic place. All that history, all that sense of time, it’s very hard not to feel it. But melancholy is not always a negative thing. Melancholy can be beautiful as well. A solitary person walking along the Embankment in a harsh winter night. The rain slicked streets shimmering almost orange as the twilight changes from purple into darkness, people bustling along, urgent to be home with their loved ones. Standing on London Bridge, watching the sun set slowly behind Tower Bridge, tears forming on your face because of the biting wind coming up from the Thames. So many sights like this can often catch you unawares. It can often take your breath away as well.
But there is always romance in wintertime. Always. You cuddle up to the person you love for warmth. Arms round each other. Hands in each other’s pockets for heat. Kissing somebody on a frozen cheek. Warming somebody's hands in your own. People become more physically intimate with each other in winter, when in the summer you are more inclined to be so hot, you just want to stay away from everyone.
For everyone who moans about the winter, when this one finally comes around, just take a moment to stop and take a close look around you. Yes, summer can be beautiful, as we all know, bursting with life and so forth, but can it really touch you? Get you deep down on an emotional level? Where just the simple sight of a bare and naked tree, standing alone in misty field on a freezing morning, how that can represent so many different things to so many different people? It’s ironic that for the time of year when everything starts to die, I never feel more alive than when I do at wintertime.
I love wrapping up warm and heading out into the cold. I love warm pockets and freezing cheeks. I love the darkness pressing up against the window when I am warm and cosy inside. I love how the air is so crisp you can taste in on your tongue. I love how the street lamps make little pools of light down the street.
So you can keep your suntan lotion, your sunburnt shoulders, your sweaty backs on the tube, your long nights awake due to the heat, you can keep all of that.
My name is Dan, and I love winter.
There, I said it. Now watch me dance for you.