Spring is coming, are you ready? asked the pretty lady on a moped who happened to pop up on my Facebook feed this morning. Well, yes, thanks for asking, I am ready. This winter has been cold and grey and devoid of snow and I am so ready for spring.
Strangely, walking down the street, the same question was asked of me by a billboard, and then a shop window. All three companies wanted to know if I was ready to shed my woolly layers and emerge, butterfly-like into the sun. Hell YES I am!
But then I realised, what they mean is: am I prepared for Spring, because woe betide any adult woman who just wanders nonchalantly into the new season. My body, for example, which has been reliably converting food and oxygen into movement and thoughts all winter is no longer fit for purpose, and must be upgraded, like a crap phone that got dropped in the loo, or a car that failed its MOT. Waxing, trimming, toning and buffing are all in order before this knitted chrysalis can be shed.
Last year’s clothes of course, simply will not do. I don’t know, but people must have vastly more exciting holidays than me. My swimsuit is almost totally unscathed from the couple of weeks lounging by the pool last year. What do people do with their bikinis that means they have to be replaced every year? Swim with sharks? White-water rafting? Lounge in vats of acid? Anyway, like any serious endeavour, Spring requires a whole new kit.
As for my house, well that won’t do AT ALL. I still have my winter curtains up. For Christ’s sake woman, what kind of a housewife are you? To herald the lengthening days, what I really need are some pastel florals, preferably against a backdrop of freshly-painted “Greenery” walls. Until I’ve hoovered behind the bookshelves, and switched up my bedding, Spring will just have to wait. Pinterest said so.
How did this happen? How did something as delightful as the steady progress of the season, the first gusts of warmer air, the emergence of the primroses in the lawn, get all messed up with commercialism and to-do lists. How on earth did it all get so damn stressful?
Well, in my other life, when I’m not ranting about stuff on the internet, I teach English for Sales and Marketing, and the books I use to teach have some insights. One says for example, that “Emergencies, real or imagined,” will increase sales.
Now real emergencies I have no problem with. Storm coming? Check the candle supplies. Winter on its way? Wheel chains needed. These are all perfectly valid reasons to flog us stuff. But what about the imagined emergencies? If I started screaming at you to GET READY, like some kind of hopped-up prepper, you might decide not to talk to me anymore. If I persisted, friends and family, would worry; people would start to avoid me in the street.
Into all lives some shit must fall. Tax returns, exam season and class reunions are all example of events which warrant preparation and a certain amount of trepidation. But Spring, Christmas, the summer holidays, Halloween and New Year’s Eve are supposed to be our rewards for putting up with all the other crap. They are the light side of life, the dessert you were promised if you ate all of your broccoli. How many times in the run-up to Christmas have you heard a woman bemoan “Oh, I am so not ready for Christmas, I haven’t even ….”. This pressure to “Get Ready!” is turning life into a chore.
I think Christmas is too long-gone to be saved. We’ve pretty much absorbed the message that it isn’t really Christmas if you haven’t worked yourself into a nervous breakdown in the run-up, baking, cooking, shopping and cleaning. But please, can we not do the same for Spring? Can we please just enjoy it without feeling pressured to overhaul our homes and our bodies, to prepare, to spruce, to worry and to spend. We allow the sales people and the advertisers to bring this noise into our lives. We even act on it, normalise it. Fuck that noise, it drowns out the birdsong.