The Day of The Sun
The day of the sun is like the day of a king. It is a promenade in the morning, a sitting on the throne at noon, a pageant in the evening.
—Wallace Stevens, Journal entry (20 April 1920)
For the last few days, London has basked in glorious cloudless weather. My tomatoes, aubergines, peppers and chilis have responded vigourously and my skin has turned a dark brown (causing people to ask me where I’ve been on holiday).
I love this city passionately but my main gripe has always been the weather. It would be fine if we had proper, assertive weather: long spells of monsoon-like rain, violent thunder-storms that rattle the windows and cleave the sky with blinding bolts of light, raging winds that fill the streets with little old ladies cartwheeling past like tumbleweed, blizzards that bury the city chest-high in snowdrifts and last but not least, long spells of searing sunlight and heat.
But we don’t. What we have, for the most part, is what I think of as ‘beige’ weather–weather that’s neither one thing nor the other: bland, dull, temperate weather. Mildly annoying weather. Weather the colour of institutional food: limp, pallid and lacking in savour.
It’s easy to see why ancient peoples deified the sun and I imagine Christianity must have been a hard sell back in the days when the majority of people lived lives intimately connected to the earth’s natural cycles.
“So, let me get his straight: you want us to reject Helios, the sun god who makes the grapes ripen on the vine, the olives ripen on the tree and the wheat to grow tall and heavy in the field; the sun that bakes the ache out of our old bones, turns the skin a pleasing shade of brown and bleaches our linen a startling white; the sun that dries our meats and fish, that drives the water off and gives us salt and makes the birds to sing in the dawn.
In his place, you want us to worship an invisible god who sexually molests virgins, burns us in hell if we eat meat on Fridays and had his only son nailed to a wooden cross? Have I got that right? Erm…we’ll get back to you…”
You can see why Julian the Apostate decided to give it a miss.
Time to slap on the Ban de Soleil, adjust those Persol classics, slice another orange into the sangria and write a poem about the sun. Rise and shine…