Thursday, 30 April 2009

Summer Forecast

Here comes the sun... Or so say the Met office, predicting blue skies and temperatures exceeding 30 degrees at times. Being a total sun bunny, I was thrilled to hear this, as I'm hoping for many a summer weekend filled with barbecues, lawn-lazing, beach trips, water fights and countless ice lollies. However, I did have to fight the urge to snigger at the news coverage of today's report. BBC News online led with the Met Office's scientific declaration that we are "odds on for a barbecue summer", while the Guardian hammered home the vital 'breaking news' that we are 'unlikely' to have as much of a poor summer as the previous two 'wash-outs'.

Now, I am no meteorologist but even I know the weather is an unpredictable beast, often undermining the experts with its random twists and turns. This struck me as a bit of a non-story (actually, it failed to even strike me- more of a nudge, really), with on-the-fence vocab ruling out any real facts. If anything, the tone of the press seems to be humouring us, trying to boost us amid swine flu and debt hell with a vaguely hopeful guess about whether we'll be breaking out the SPF or the brollies this summer.

The mission to understate the matter did bring a smile to my face, however. BBC broadcaster Laura Tobin was determined not to be outwitted by the wily British climate, announcing that 'Compared to last summer, which was miserable,' (thanks for the reminder) '... it will probably be positive for the majority of people.' No hate mail for her come August, then.

Also in the news today is the announcement that summer-born children will be given the opportunity to start school or nursery up to two terms earlier, with schools offering with a free place after their fourth birthday. Any talk of 'summer babies', particularly August-born, always makes my blood boil. Writing as the owner of a very, very end of August birthday, I resent the constantly patronizing tone towards those just a few months younger than their school peers. I emphasize 'younger than', as people often confuse this with 'behind'. I understand how a child can fall behind in school, but surely an August 31st child starting the same school year as a September 1st child has exactly the same exposure to the curriculum?

Many would take into account maturity (which is surely not based on month of birth but style of parenting, number of older or younger siblings and many other variables) and amount of home education, which I would argue also relies on the parents preparing their youngest-in-the-year for the pressures of school. I can say I have never felt overwhelmed or particularly struggled with school, while I know many of my peers born the calendar year before me have repeatedly fallen behind. I remember feeling incensed when, as I got ready to receive my First class degree last summer, GMTV were reporting in the background about 'poor' August babies not being given extra attention in the classroom. I'm sure there are a few cases, but I'm equally certain that this rationalization is being used left, right and centre to excuse laziness, behavioural issues and even valid learning difficulties.

Even if I am the exception that proves the rule (and I know a lot of sharp and successful August-borns), what of March, April and May babies? They fall in the younger half of the academic year, and yet there appear to be few educational concerns about Spring-born infants. Enough of a rant, really, but it does make me cross that something as simple as my date of birth should single me out as someone who will find life hard.

I've started back at Elle as their new Features assistant, and am loving it already. Although it will be tough and hectic day-to-day, it is a fabulous office with lovely and very professional ladies, none of your Devil Wears Prada divas. I'm so looking forward to being up in West London this summer, hopefully in some cute skirts and gladiator sandals (still searching for Roman perfection: check out Kate Moss's Steve Madden beauties below), and I'm feeling more like a proper writer every day...

She may just be a bad excuse for Topshop to charge £18 a vest, but by god La Moss can do off-duty chic.