Washed Up, by Sarah Juggins - June 14, 2016

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Summer is fast approaching and with it the promise of balmy days in the sun, picnics, barbecues and trips to the beach. But, just observing a little bit of human behaviour in the past few weeks and one has to conclude that this time of year is not all about summer lovin’.

The roads become snarled up with people dashing to the beach at the first sign of sunshine. And the minute you have queuing traffic, you have road rage. My own personal pet hate is the person who is really ‘cool’ about not keeping up with the traffic. As the traffic shunts forwards, this driver just sits and lets the gap grow and grow. There is no logic for my ire, but I find myself getting more irate as that gap grows. What right has that driver to be so unconcerned about moving 
ten metres forward when everyone else is committed to stop start progress? When some cheeky rogue suddenly overtakes from the back 
and slips into the space, I applaud and envy the chutzpah.

Train travel becomes hot and sticky. Everything is a potential annoyance. The person who sits their bag on the seat next to them and only reluctantly moves it when the train is full. Or the people who re-arrange everyone else so they can sit next to each other. “Would you mind swapping places so I can sit with my daughter?” The request is accompanied by a sweet and helpless smile as you give up your foward-facing aisle seat to squeeze into a backward facing window seat by the radiator.

It’s the time of year that the shops sell an idyllic lifestyle. Shelves are packed with picnic essentials. Rugs, hampers, plastic cutlery, paper plates, folding chairs. It all seems like such a good idea until you get to your beachy picnic spot. However you put the rug down, it doesn’t prevent sand getting into your food. The plastic cups all seem to have an aversion to actually holding liquid as they leak or split as soon as you start using them. The plastic knife broke as you hacked into the pork pie and the torrent of cursing that occurred when the strawberries and cream all rolled off the plate caused the neighbouring family – who couldn’t have sat any closer if they tried – to cover their children’s ears and glare furiously.

Even in your own home, things become less sanctuary-like and you takes on a siege mentality. The neighbour is cutting the lawn at 7.30 in the morning. You close the windows and put the pillow over your head. You are sitting reading your book in the garden when a child’s head appears regularly over your eight-foot high fence – the very reason trampolines should be banned.

You are just sitting down to a meal of left-over quiche and yellowing salad leaves when the smell drifts in. Your nostrils flare and you salivate helplessly as the smell of chargrilled burgers and sausages wafts into the room. If only you had offered the next door neighbour and her child a lift back from the station the other day…