Yellow has never been my favourite colour. Too bright, too banana-ry, the colour of cowards. Hating yellow made springtime at primary school a right bloody chore: all teachers want kids to do in March is stick little bits of yellow tissue paper onto outlines of daffodils, chicks, eggs, shining suns – you get the picture.
If you’ve got kids, you will literally be getting the picture any time now. Probably on the last day of term, in the form of a happy Easter card. And you’ll love it because your kid made it. Not because it has anything to do with spring any more.
Global warming, they said. It’s going to be like Barcelona in London, they said. Well, I dearly hope the terminally irritating THEY are damn uncomfortable, buried beneath an avalanche of WRONG. We’d managed to convince ourselves that all the hairspray we squirted willy-nilly in the 80s hadn’t been such a bad idea after all. A whole nation of faces turned up to the white sky in hope. Our little muddy island might actually dry out, we thought. We could grow fat, yellow peaches, like the Romans did. But the only thing we’ll get on our faces from turning them to the supposedly springtime sky at the moment is snow.
After waiting all this time for the golden lining to our hitherto perpetual cloud cover, we get snow in March and monsoon rains in August. Instead of six weeks of sun-bleached hair and trips to the coast, the kids endure summer holidays in soggy fleeces beneath dark skies rattling with the constant threat of thunder, their roller skates skidding on clammy tarmac. It’s even too cold for summer’s yellow-perils; wasps. This bleak new version of silly season is made worse only when our vitamin-D deprived offspring return to school sweltering beneath the insult of a September heatwave.
The latest theory, according to the UK’s Guardian is that the coalition government might be to blame. The UK, according to them, is turning into Narnia under Cameron. Talk about grasping at little yellow straws. I know our weather has always been an obsession for us Brits and we do love moaning about it, but blaming a government tasked with the most unpopular financial cuts in living memory for our spring-time blizzards seems a tad harsh.
But nobody can deny any longer that our global climate – financial and meteorological – is changing. What will the poets do without spring to inspire them, if we’re destined now to suffer positively Shakespearean winters of discontent? Imagine Wordsworth’s wanderings without his stumbling upon the daffodils. Or The Beatles singing, ‘Here Comes The sleet. Again,’ instead of, ‘Here Comes the Sun.’
No-one appreciates the promise of sunny days like Brits do, which is why we are so inspired by spring. At the first whiff of blossom we envisage the glorious summer that surely lies ahead. We live for the thrill of being told by a yellow-haired weather girl that we’re hotter than Athens, Barbados, Cairo. How we gloat, how we preen, how we cast off our kit like happy lunatics, bunk work, drink in the sun. And how we relish the sizzle of chilled cream on gammon-steak shoulders at dusk, worn proudly like a medal of valour. “The sun did shine on us,” we glow, “and this potentially cancerous skin proves I didn’t waste a second of it.”
This spring, I have watched over and over again, daffies raise their pitifully hopeful yellow heads only to be slaughtered by a fresh dump of blank, unfeeling snow. Could any image be less poetic? Each ray of springtime cheer, frozen before it’s had a chance to begin? What would The Beatles have made of that? Poor Wordsworth must be whirling in his grave.
But the persistent optimist in me does see something poetic and hopeful in the tragedy of my flowerbeds. Those indomitable little daffs have taken more frosts than Ranulph Fiennes’ toes but they refuse to die. After each fresh fall of snow, they pick up their heads and reach for the steely heavens once more. Such spirit and determination is even more inspiring to me than a cold ice cream on a scorching day.
I still don’t particularly like yellow but I’m with Wordsworth on this one:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.