It’s always hot, and often wet in the tropics. At certain times of the year I really miss England’s seasons. There is no spring in India, the seasons segue from winter to summer here. Kerala is at its hottest in April and May, when pre-monsoon steamy white heat reduces the tumbling torrent of Cochin’s street-life to a dried up trickle. Tourists are the only fools to go out in the midday sun. Even the mad dogs sleep.
You can keep Paris in the springtime, I’ll take London. Give me a morning walk in Regent’s Park during an April shower: wellies squelching in the muddy playing fields, feet all dry and toasty, while my dog races around in the sticky rain. Years ago, when I used to walk Yogi in Camden, we would stop on the Hanover footbridge to watch fat raindrops slide off the trees onto the ducks beneath us; if the gunmetal clouds cracked with thunder she shot straight towards the exit, dragging me behind. Once Tom Cruise jogged past with his minder. They both smiled at us. My mouth dropped open, but Yogi was more impressed with a stain on the asphalt.
When spring arrives nature colours in London’s grey outlines. Like painting-by-numbers, brush strokes of yellow, pink and lilac splash across its monochrome city streets. Magnolia trees celebrate with creamy blooms, and heavy racemes of purple-blue wisteria cascade over walls or around front doors. For a few weeks every year petals of pink and white confetti used to catch in Yogi’s thick coat, as they floated from blossoming trees.
Windows are thrown open, weeds uprooted and lawns mown in a spring-cleaning frenzy. Pots, troughs and boxes are stuffed with pansies and petunias, then carefully placed on windowsills and front steps. In tree-lined avenues, lanes and terraces leaf buds burst from sleeping twigs, cloaking them in shades of green. As colour tumbles back into their lives, and the days get longer, Londoners take time to smile at each other again.
At the end of our evening walk Yogi and I would catch the last of the sun’s rays outside the pub, me knocking back a nip of whisky while she polished off a bag of crisps.