The first signs of it usually appear around March. There you are wondering around your local garden centre, or pootling up the aisle of the supermarket, when you are confronted by a paper sack; but, dear reader, this is not full of potatoes- it is full of charcoal.
In itself, this represents little worthy of comment but don't be fooled by its simplicity; for the sack has totemic powers which cannot be ignored and it will be soon joined by its companions in arms: new items of outdoor furniture!
It never fails to amaze me how we allow ourselves each year to be consumed by the quivering mirage that is the vision of a Great British Summer (GBS) that rivals, nay surpasses, that last GBS, you know the one, when was it? 1976?
An awful lot of hardwood has been cut down and made into folding tables since then, friend. Nevertheless the dream lives on around us.
Phrases and images that have been hidden away for months re-appear overnight as if by enchantment; you know the type of thing: that girl in the red swimsuit, "easy living", plastic yellow bottles and a drink full of salad held by a man in a blazer.
The magazines are head- over- heels happy because here is copy free of charge: will you do the Zee Plan diet, lose your pot: the lot! Which light natural fabric will you be favouring and have you seen whose about to dive off that yacht?
The yacht, of course, is in the Med' and that shoot was in Morocco where the light played fantastically with the shining threads in that skirt as the model twirled in a manner almost like a dervish.
On Reading High Street when the pressures low you'll need your Barbour.
Yet, it is unstoppable. Now we like to "festival" at the weekend; so much more interesting than camping or going to a concert and really, trust me, once you're in, the mud is fine. Take your tent or pack your van, particularly if it is a VW, and drive to somewhere more or less off the beaten track; call yourself Caz and forget about the office, the Blackberry and the congestion charge as you settle into your slice of GBS pie or paella if you prefer.
Then there is the sporting side and its all "This-year-its-gotta-be-a-Brit!" and I'm going to show my support by wearing a jester's hat but I'll take it off sharpish because the joke will be on me: inevitably...
And every year there is a home project of, sometimes, psychotic proportion: digging up the border, making a tree house or laying new gravel to "crunch up" the drive. Not forgetting the rakish little wooden-white sign stabbed into the grass with the legend: "Gone to the Pub" - a little smirk as you run out to get in the washing.
Our weather presenters preen like only at Christmas and seem, in some way, to hold the gift of the GBS within their personal bestowal and whim; their two minutes- fifteen really is far too long-hold us enthralled for what is said may determine the day and the way ahead. Yet, they are Old Testament Gods and will not yield to our fickle craving.
The GBS has all too short a lease and soon it will pass as inevitably as the trophy did to someone from elsewhere. The fan coolers will be put away, or restacked, and the tables will soon be half price. That old harbinger, the sack, will be found at the back of a garage underneath an un-inflated swimming pool covered in web.
In October, after half-term, there will be a heat wave.
To paraphrase Larkin on books: "Get stewed, the GBS is a load of crap!"