With the Spring Bank Holiday approaching, I was looking forward to a May Day repeat - BBQs, beer gardens, blistering British heat, bumblebees, and over things beginning with B. Before buying up a box of Coronas I quickly checked the forecast. From what I could gather the weather will, annoyingly, be going all English on us. I tutted at my laptop. "What's the point", I thought, "of having a day off when I'll just be sitting indoors anyway?" I looked at some flights to the continent to run from the dreary London rain. I noticed hundreds of last minute deals; dozens of "escape to the sun" offers. I grew suspicious and conducted some research.
And yes. It has emerged. The nice weather that occurred over the May Day bank holiday was actually a PR stunt, orchestrated by 'James Chef' - a new branch of holiday makers. I went to their head offices in Southend to find some answers.
"Well, if Coca-Cola can pull on your heartstrings by writing your name on their bottles, and if Tesco can turn "disgusting-horsey-food" into "hey-look-how-honest-and-down-to-earth-we-are", then why the hell can't we play God and make it sunny for a weekend?"
These were the words of Mr. Chef - CEO of James Chef Holidays. He was a tall, brooding man, with LastMinute.com tattooed across his forearm.
"Think about it! Everyone has a day off in May. So we use some crazy Truman Show-style technology to make it sunny. Suddenly, everyone is reminded how fucking great sitting around and drinking beer in the sun is. Next thing you know, people are like "arrgghh we should go on hoooliday, have a look on Travel Supermaaaarket, let's book soooomething". Then BOOM! 'James Chef are offering All-Inclusive trips to Gran Canaria for only 500 quid return'".
He told me how they tried to partner up with Easy Jet and Ryan Air, but both airlines replied with "if anyone's going to try and scrounge cash out of normal working people, it's going to be us" (apparently the two companies have been attending business seminars organised by TFL).
"I should win some kind of PR Award" Mr Chef went on, "you know, if PR was actually a real thing".
I realised that Mr Chef was right. London's a great city, but the weather feels a bit like one of those weird Guantanamo Bay torture techniques, where your resistance is slowly broken down by infinite greyness. I spoke to a group of Australians who were frequenting the local Southend WalkAbout - how they'd ended up here I didn't care to ask.
"Fuck" said the one of them, "it's so cold. Like, all the time. Last bank holiday reminded me what the sun was. I haven't been off TripAdvisor since". They all swore in agreement.
"I mean, England's great and all" said the tallest of the group, Locky, "and I don't mind extreme weather. Like, I've lived in the outback and endured 50 degree heat. I've done ski seasons where it's highs of minus 5. But here, there's just so much drizzle".
I asked the boys where they were going next. They told me that they'd fallen on hard times in Southend (apparently the beach didn't quite live up to expectations that Google Images laid out). They had plans to head east to Clapham in South-London where they'd been told there were plenty of bar jobs and houseshares.
I spoke to Jenny, a Southend born housewife. Until last weekend, she'd never stepped foot in the Essex Sea, despite being able to see the froffy green water from her lounge window.
"To be honest" she said, "I think what Mr. Chef has done is disgraceful. Playing with our emotions like that. I'd never felt the tickle of sand under my feet and that's the way I liked it. Now I feel like a Goddamn mermaid! I'm desperate to get back in the sea.
"It was nice though...maybe I should book something. Me and Barry ain't ever been to Gran Canaria".