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Louis Michael: The true gift of summer sun

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Last week Brighton was treated to a heavenly heatwave. Anywhere you looked it was as if your surroundings were a mid- June weekend that had run away when no one was looking and hidden itself in early April. And apart from the Brighton marathon runners, who were no doubt cursing the sun just as much as the rest of us were worshipping it, you’d have been hard pressed to find any complaints. It felt like some kind of sneak preview of summer to keep us going just that little bit longer down the final stretch before those long, golden days that are (hopefully) just round the corner. 

Despite having lived here my entire life I never tire of the life and vibrance that erupts from all corners of the city as soon as the sunlight washes over its buildings; whenever the sun shows its face Brighton comes alive. It’s a seaside city and the seaside thrives on sunlight, so as soon as spring and summer arrive the city seems to shake itself out of its hibernation. The grey sea is suddenly blue and sparkling, the huddles of people trudging through the streets with their heads down are transformed into groups of lively, animated conversation, and the outside cafes are happily packed once again with people enjoying a leisurely afternoon out.

The grey sea is suddenly blue and sparkling

All around where before there were only people rushing to get indoors out of the cold are people sitting, talking, laughing, clamouring to get outside as much as the winter makes you want to go in. And I think that distinction is vitally important.

The true gift of summer sun is that it allows life to be presented in public. Rather than hidden away and sequestered in our individual miniature four-walled worlds, cut off from the natural world and each other, the radiance of the sun brings us out into the open. The fresh air and the light revitalise our bodies, and watching the lives of all our fellow humans unfold around us reenergises our souls.

In Queens Park, where I rooted myself for the entirety of the glorious weekend, I watched as groups of families and friends had barbecues or played frisbee or just lay basking in the heat, as I did just the same with my friends. And although it may still be spring, the energy of summer was there in full force. Happiness, freedom, content.

I refuse to be a slave to the capricious nature of England’s changeable weather but it really is hard to deny that you just can’t help feeling happier in the sun.

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