Mum used to say that Scotland had no real spring. Winter lingered on into April and May and summer often appeared from nowhere some time in early June, only to take itself off again around the time the school holidays began in July.
After the Easter holidays, we at least gave up our winter coats (‘burberries’ – the old fashioned kind – were just giving way to duffle coats) and set off to school in a blazer. This was no smart stripey affair but a plain black wool jacket, providing a handy cover-up over a cotton frock with the added advantage of big pockets where pencils, yoyos and sweetie wrappers could be stowed. When you had your blazer on, summer had officially come.
But then, as now, we could have a burst of what looked like spring in February or March, and we would set off on a grey morning, wrapped up as usual, only to come home at dinner time wilting in unexpectedly warm sunshine. Those were the days when the big question hovered in the air,
‘Mum, can I wear my blazer?’
It was an annual ritual. Asking too soon (and it was, by definition, always too soon) would only produce a no. Mum, after all, had a lifetime’s experience of how quickly the sun could go back into hiding; she did not want anybody catching cold on our walk home across the public park; she might also be burdened with the knowledge that last year’s blazer, packed away while we kept growing, was no longer going to fit. A ‘no’ was hope dashed, winter confirmed in its reign. But the question just had to be asked. We couldn’t miss out on the first day of spring, especially as our friends were all going home to ask the same. Of course when Mum said yes, we knew that winter had gone for good, but by then we might be the last in the class to still be wearing a coat!
Warm days out of season, days of hope, of fragile anticipation of something that might be granted or might be taken away. At this time of year, my sister and I know just what it means to be having a ‘blazer day.’