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Sun, sex and suspicious... Londoners? ‘We’re a city of shaggers’ says Tom Rasmussen

Dancers at Colville Gardens, Notting Hill Carnival (Universal Images Group via Getty)
Dancers at Colville Gardens, Notting Hill Carnival (Universal Images Group via Getty)

There’s something that happens to London in May. The sun: it baits us and baits us, making us beg for it, long for it, post moaning screenshots of the weather app captioned ‘yet more rain :( get me off this cursed island!’ to our stories. And then she appears: Miss Sun. Miss BBQ, Miss Late Nights in the Beer Garden, Miss Tan-Lines in the Shape of that Singlet You’ve Been Desperate to Wear All the Live Long Winter.

Don’t worry, I’m not here to make you suffer with the worst part of British culture (bar the monarchy) and drone on about the weather. Nor am I a ChatGPT tasked by my very chic editors with writing one of those HSBC ads about London that were all over the Tube last year. I am here to talk to you about the very concerning, deeply exciting behaviour this weather change brings about. It’s truly chemical: a kind of primal sexuality unlocks across London the moment that first shot of Vitamin D hits the bloodstream. Cuffing season is dead and gone; a new life is breathed into this city which you’ve threatened to leave every day since Halloween. This is great. Wonderful. Finally! But it creates a problem:

Londoners are really sexy. We’re a city of shaggers. Similar cities include New York and Berlin; Dublin is quite shaggy, too. And so we’re off: sexual tension everywhere. The bulging croissant shape of this man’s tricep, which is right at my eye level on the Tube, looks good enough to take a bite out of; the barista you’ve completely sexually overlooked all winter takes on a different kind of vibe as the sun streams in through the window of the coffee shop; every single person — literally every single one — at this Róisín Murphy show at the Albert Hall. On Instagram, people post pictures in Speedos from Hackney Marshes and you curse the day you moved to south London. The femme on the opposite platform at Canada Water winks as you take the train east. It’s like how people say once you notice, you begin to see the number 11 everywhere. Well that’s what London is like in the summer — only the number 11 becomes hot people. You can’t swing a copy of the Evening Standard without smacking someone you just know you would have incredible sex with.

The bulging croissant shape of this man’s tricep, which is right at my eye level on the Tube, looks good enough to take a bite out of

It’s a problem: constant distraction from the things that would otherwise make my daily life miserable. Am I going to have to be happy now? All these imaginary hook-ups, dates, marriages, babies and polyamorous co-parenting set-ups keep me from my winter coping mechanisms: like obsessively playing Water Sort on my phone, reading the deeply concerning news, railing against the new King (this one’s quite thrilling, really).

A behavioural shift can be a lot to contend with; and the entrance of summer into our streets, our brains, our beds always feels so sudden. Nothing can prepare you for the season ahead and winter was so brutal it removed all memory of how we possibly did it. The only advice I can provide you is the following:

Lean in. If you’re finding people hot, they are likely finding you hot, too. Of course, this isn’t an invitation to be letchy or weird or send unwarranted pictures. But it’s okay to check someone out with a cute, half-smile, locking eyes in a little too long kind of way. There’s something that feels so good about giving that to someone. It might go no further, they may well completely rebuke your attempts — that’s fine. Move on. Londoners — and their unspeakably sexy arms — are out in full force.