"The summer sun is upon us at last. Summer should be a time free of responsibility and rife with possibility. The Spanish and the Italians seem to have it right with their early work-day finishes. In England, summer is often known as the 'silly season', when newspapers that are not filled with frivolity are instead carriers of fish and chips.
Having spent a large part of the past 18 months indoors having undergone chemo treatment, as well as experiencing a two month spell of pneumonia with no effective immune system to help fend illness off, I welcome the summer this year like the farmer might welcome rain after a prolonged drought. I view summertime as being the best of what might be and to have missed out on it last year was hard.
As a child growing up in the 1950s, every summer had a story. Summer months meant long school holidays spent outdoors between dawn and dusk, working alongside dad making hay or picking potatoes to earn extra household income and swimming in dams and the River Calder with my school friends. The family would also collect blackberries from the hedgerows and swear that the jam mum made tasted better than any which could be bought. Like the short lives of butterflies, children crammed in as much as they could, flitting from here to there in the brief span of freedom allotted to them during the six-weeks' school holidays.
In our teenage years, summer seemed more adventurous. Seeing the sun shine brightly and being able to dress in colourful and free-flowing clothes put an extra spring into the steps of the young as girlfriend and boyfriend walked down fields and across dale in search for a secluded, romantic spot that wasn't too close to home. In every boy’s life are memorable moments never to be repeated, along with a girl he’ll never forget and a summer where it all began. It was during this part of my life when I learned to distinguish the difference between the romantic summer mist and the intensity of emotions that the heat of summer can create. One of the sayings at the time was, 'When the sun gets hot and the moon gets hazy, good girls go bad and boys go crazy!'
In married life, summer months meant holidays with the family and trying to keep two to five children pleasurably occupied without us breaking the bank or they their boisterous necks as they ran wild across Blackpool tram lines and the sand waving their buckets and spades. These were still the days of family holidays at the British seaside, where children wanted to play on the beach, come rain or shine. Once a good boarding house was found, one usually returned to it. I recall that my mother-in-law returned to the one she'd found in Morcambe over twenty consecutive years! She'd certainly deserve a 'loyalty card' for that today.
When I was having nine months of cancer treatment last winter, I came across a few favourite lines written by the author Albert Camus, that upon first reading in my early twenties, I never quite understood, but which are much clearer to me now and better fitting these days: 'In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.'
So bring on the sun and rejoice because I'm off on my holiday to Ireland for a week and this is a good year to continue living." William Forde: July 3rd, 2015.