Why can’t I drink my Pimm’s in the winter? I come from a world where the brownish, bitter liquid is completely detached from the context it is given in Britain, yet remains and is beloved for being a distinctly British thing. There is no lawn to drag grey wooden deck-chairs onto and sit whilst sipping the drink, because la voiture est garée sur le gazon en attendant que le garage soit renové, et de toute façon on est bien mieux à l’ombre sur la terrasse.
Pimm’s comes in a clear bottle with a white label, and once it has made it into the glass with some Monoprix lemonade, that is effectively the end of its voyage as I see it. I say voyage, because the quick trip to Tesco it takes to bring back something to drink when you live in the UK, becomes a 3 to 8 hour journey for anyone living slightly further away.
What do you have in your Pimm’s? Orange, lemon, maybe a slice of cucumber? The first two are fruit which would not seem out of place on a Christmas dinner table, and the last, cucumber, is an all-year-round supermarket filler. The constraint, therefore, is not strictly related to the season itself.
You might look at it the other way round, and tell me that drinking mulled wine in warmish July wouldn’t come to mind. And I would agree, mostly. Even with the distorted calendar of someone who moves around all the time and has usually celebrated Christmas 3 times by mid-December, I struggle to ask for mulled wine until the temperature has dropped.
But mainly, it’s the backdrop that does it. A small town Christmas market brings all the smells and colours which never fail to set me on a hunt for a cheapish drink hut. The cinnamon, the orange and all the other flavours that come out of this festive elixir are part of the general seasonal set up, hence why the idea of reheating a left-over bottle of mulled wine in August seems purely absurd.
Although I enjoy the odd garden party, revelling in full awareness of the huge cliche these Ionesco-esque lawn scenes make up, I have never experienced a full, full-time British summer. So if the little thirst-bell starts ringing for Pimm’s a few months early or late, I see no reason to wait for the deck-chairs to be put out or the team to set up their game.
And anyways: what’s the point of restricting Pimm’s season to summer if I don’t understand how cricket works?