From the people blaring Tinchy Stryder to sweaty shirtless men, here’s who to avoid this season
Maybe it’s the heat. Or the sudden blast of vitamin D. Or maybe it’s that some clever dick at Urban Outfitters HQ has reimagined a new range of ‘nostalgia’ picnicware for people to lose their sh*t over. Whatever the (highly unscientific) formula, the result is always the same: summer brings with it a whole cast of characters who will be cropping up on train platforms and in parks near you very soon. Approach at your peril…
1 The MAD party guy
This guy was THE BOMB back in secondary school. Literally, that was his name. The. Bomb. He was the guy who threw his school dinner out of the refectory window in an act of solidarity with the Big Brother contestants who were on rations that week. People used to stop and whisper his name in the school corridors. Weirdly, not one of them has actually looked at him since 2004. He cannot understand why this is.“Summer...” he tells himself as he drifts off to sleep at night.“In the summer, I will become The Bomb again.” He goes about this by buying a giant inflatable shaped like a hot dog. Because nothing says ‘This guy doesn’t just bring the party, this guy IS the party’ like turning up to a land-locked event with a 7ft float. He takes it to pay-day drinks. People look at him. He likes this feeling. He orders a round of shots. Later, he forces the intern to snort one. When his boss intervenes, he decides now is the time to ‘stick it to the man’ and spews forth ill-formed ideas about ‘the corporation.’ He doesn’t remember much after this. Apart from someone stepping over him and his deflated float saying, “Man, you really bombed.”
2 The self-conscious woman with a hat
Whether it’s a novelty purchase from a Majorcan market (that the 80-yearold stallholder told her would go with everything) or a TK Maxx ‘find’ that someone had left by the tills – presumably because they realised it wouldn’t go with anything – this woman is wedded to her ‘summer hat.’ The problem is, when she bought ‘the hat’ she mistook the life she actually has (nine-to-five office job, summer parties that consist of a gin-in-a-tin on a neighbour’s sliver of Astroturf) for the life she wants (summer house in the Hamptons, pool parties with cabana boys). And so she finds herself trying to self-consciously style it out in
a Primark tea dress. She feels fraudulent in ‘the hat.’ It is not her. It will never be her. Everyone knows ‘the hat’ is making her miserable. She can’t dance in ‘the hat.’ It looks novelty with every single outfit. And yet she has now committed to it. She dreams of a time when the sun no longer shines so she can bury ‘the hat,’ along with any socialmedia evidence that she ever, in fact, thought wearing it was a good idea.
3 The person who is too cool for summer
Identifiable by the fact they wear long-sleeved black or navy clothing, carry an antique silk fan on all forms of transport, and have been ruining summer for everyone since 1985. They ‘dread’ the three months between May and September – mainly because they think it’s a cool thing to do. They are the ones who remind us to stay in the shade, and that modest dressing can actually be quite ‘cooling.’ They would rather eat their own capes than eat on the grass, and take great pleasure in congregating in small groups inside, doing ‘indoor’ hobbies such as photo development or kombucha brewing. They are maintained by a solid core of iron smugness that comes from knowing they will age half as quickly as those cavorting around covered in petroleum jelly that smells of coconuts.
4 That guy on the night train home
At first he is funny. You titter behind your magazine as he makes polite banter with the elderly couple on their way back from a night at the open-air theatre. He is wearing the intriguing combination of smart work suit with brown leather sandals, and appears to have a bottle of gin stuffed down his pants. Soon he is bored with the old couple and moves to sit next to the mild-mannered hipster who is reading a book on bushcraft survival and wearing a hand-knitted tank top. “Oi, what’s with the tea cosy, mate?” he snarls. The entire carriage stops laughing and puts their heads down. Tumbleweed drifts through the train. He stands up, unbuttons his shirt and starts singing Tubthumping by Chumbawamba at the top of his voice. Everyone freezes. Suddenly you hear him coming your way. You search frantically for your headphones before you are saved by his phone ringing. Thankfully he spends the rest of the journey explaining to whoever is on the other end where he’s been for the past 24 hours (in a beer garden) and why he is on the 11.57pm to Ipswich when, in fact, he lives in Margate.
5 The person who wears athleisure to… everything
Ever get the feeling that all those people brunching along your local high street, picnicking in parks and strolling around Sainsbury’s wearing nothing but gym kit and a rosy glow couldn’t possibly have been exercising? You are correct. They haven’t. They are the members of an elite but powerful underground guerilla group designed to make you feel bad about not doing a morning Parkrun. There’s no knowing how far up this conspiracy goes: they could be employees of the Department Of Health, designed to shame the wider population into working out more (or they could just really like wearing skintight, stretchy clothes in public). We’ll never know. What we do know is that they are one of the British summer’s newest additions. Welcome, legging-clad friends! Mostly seen at weekends, they tend to operate in pairs and can be identified by their Apple watches, KeepCups, rose-gold S’well water bottles and, of course, the fact that they are wearing Nike short-shorts and racer-back tops to an evening barbecue. Everyone hates them, but they do not care, because they are so. Damn. Comfy.
6 The person who really wants you to know they have been to loads of music festivals
Their right arms are like a bedpost. Except in place of notches, there are seven murky beige wristbands in various forms of decay. The ends are frayed from being repeatedly dunked in pints of Estrella, then dragged through fields of mud, yet they refuse to take them off. Because they have been to a festival. And they would really like you to ask them about it. For 310 days of the year, these people are entirely normal. Then summer hits and BAM: they are every photo taken of Kate Moss at a festival ever. They swap workwear for boho white dresses and wear Hunter wellies when it’s 32° outside. They preface normal things with the words ‘secret,’ ‘forest’ or ‘silent’: not been to a forest campsite then tried silent swimming in a secret pool? WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? Also, you know those people who think longer nights are an excuse to play bad acoustic guitar while sitting on old fruit crates? Yeah. Them.