My first instinct whenever I see the sun peek out from behind the relentless, cloudy Scottish skyscape is to plaster myself to the nearest window. I walk around with my palms facing the sunlight like, absorb that vitamin D, bitch. And I’d feel weird about it if it weren’t blatantly obvious that as soon as you step outside, the majority residents of Glasgow have also in recent weeks fallen helpless to solar-mania.
It would be a bit of an overstatement to say that everyone loses their shit at the teeniest ray of sunshine, but there is something quite anti-apocalyptic about escaping the oppression of season after season of the bare minimum in the way of solar radiation and the camaraderie this reunion engenders. People seem to drop everything instantaneously and flood into the city’s parks to barbeque and sit around on picnic blankets, a sea of pasty shoulders and knees resurface from their clothed hibernation, and the seasonally deserted benches outside the Fraser Building are populated with hordes of wide-grinned students sitting cross-legged with their lunches in their laps, a scene straight out of an obnoxiously diverse university catalogue. Every cafe and bar scrambles to get extra outdoor seating to accommodate the influx of day-drinkers, ice cream sellers finally start breaking even on their profits and everyone is bubbly and bouncy and momentarily careless and happy. I’ve never been particularly attached to the sun but being starved of it for months on end has converted me.
Why people react this way to the sun can be allotted to personal preference or simply to the novelty of it all. It may also be a small compensation for the nutrient deficiencies of the tragic dietary norms of Glasgow or an opening up of a myriad of outdoor activities we can suddenly participate in – or any number of justifications. However, news telecasts and magazines will mostly report on the record number of Brits carting off to the beach and the importance of lathering up on sunscreen and whatnot, without often shifting the public discourse to the unsexy and depressing ecological implications of these heatwaves. Global warming, whatever the burnt Cheeto who sits as the helm of the most significant economy in the Western world and some of our home politicians seem to think, is real, and it’s not getting any less terrifying. We’ve definitely earned the right to rejoice in a bit of sunshine after a seemingly interminable winter, but maybe while we’re nibbling at our ice cream cones and calculating how to maximize our tanning opportunities we can do our part to be a bit more aware of what this means for our planet.