YOUTH MATTERS Alex Christie...Sun brings out smiles all round, but then the clouds roll back

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With the seemingly-endless stretch of short, dark days of winter showing a change for the better I was one of the many who flocked to the nearest stretch of greenery to enjoy the sun.

Clad in bright colours, shorts, flip flops and sunglasses, my friends and I marched like a small army the short distance from college to the local park. Armed with a football and a crate of beer, we left the Russian revolution firmly behind in the history classroom we had exited with haste.

Upon arrival I was struck by the number of people sprawled across the small park’s grassy banks, basking in the meagre 18 degree heat, some already scorched and red from refusal to miss a mere second of sun. Running parallel to this dedication to gaining a sufficient tan were the endless beacons of grey smoke rising from the hundreds of disposable barbecues cooking up cheap meats and in most cases – salmonella.

Ducking and diving to avoid missile-like footballs sailing overhead, I passed a large group of youngsters with foam bats, balls and plastic water pistols. Teens and adults lounged around sipping wine, eating sandwiches and laughing, some even partaking in sporadic games of rounders or cricket. All appeared harmonic.

That is until early afternoon when the unpredictable sun was joined by a thickening of cloud and wind. Life as we know it resumed. Parents screamed to their children to come away from their futile games, blankets were snatched up from the ground and sun cream was stuffed into bags and out of sight while a sea of dissatisfied sun lovers began evacuating the park briskly.

The stereotypical ‘English’ and their obsession with weather comes full circle before their very eyes and they return home, deflated and downcast, yet hopeful the BBC five-day forecast predicts another spell of sunshine when they can repeat the process.