Olivia Kelleher: Reaction to good weather shows off unique Irish talent for gratitude

Only those who keep their summer clothes in a suitcase under the bed truly know the pure joy of a fleeting Irish heatwave
Olivia Kelleher: Reaction to good weather shows off unique Irish talent for gratitude

Classic Irish warm-weather dining promised “extra salad cream and a slice of ham if you’re lucky” but it could just as well have prescribed “sure it’s too hot for anything else”.

You would nearly feel sorry for people in countries where a summer involving warm temperatures is the norm.

Not for them the pleasure of soaking up every last ray of sunshine. When the sun appears, we are like people who have eaten an orange for the first time after wartime rationing.

Spaniards who don’t keep their summer clothes in a suitcase under the bed for occasional wear will never understand our behaviour in sunny weather.

The joy of popping in to Dunnes to panic-buy summer dresses only to get the last remaining item in your size. Particularly when said dress is surrounded by countless garments in XX small — a size worn only by children and Victoria Beckham.

Heatwaves are as fleeting as a holiday romance

We know this weather will be as fleeting as a holiday romance. But there is a fan with my name on it in Aldi. Or at least it will be mine if I survive the stampede in the middle aisle.

The media is complicit in our heatwave mania. Oh how we like a summer recipe. This very paper gave us a recipe for melon, feta, mint, and chilli salad.

Pairing sweet melon with “punchy contrasting flavours” sounds absolutely delicious. Not that I would contemplate anything as ambitious as making it. It’s just a relaxing read.

A couple of days later, Darina Allen was speaking my kind of language

A recipe for an “Old-Fashioned salad”. The accompanying picture came with the caption “extra salad cream and a slice of ham — if you are lucky”.

Dinner in an Irish house in warm weather is always ‘salad — because it’s too warm to be eating anything’. Which basically translates as “eat that bit of wilted lettuce and half a tomato. Who says I haven’t made an effort? Didn’t I push out the boat with a hard-boiled egg?”

And if it’s the mother who utters those words, you just know she is contemplating lifting her breasts and putting a fan under them. Might as well get some use out of it before it’s raining again.

Just call me Bree Van de Kamp

Meanwhile, the heatwave gold medal coverage has to go to RTÉ. 

I consider it an achievement to buy a few icecreams in Supervalu and get them home before they are slushies. But the RTÉ website is telling me about “two-ingredient ice cream in 15 minutes”.

“No trekking to the shops” they promise, as it involves “food you probably have at home”.

The “food styling” requires pink candy melts. They must think we are all like Bree Van de Kamp in Desperate Housewives.

The recipe involves peeling and chopping bananas to be placed in a bag for freezing. Then you are “blitzing” the ingredients in the food processor. I think I will stick with my Solero.

I will instead opt for the pastime loved by all in this weather. Which is of course getting as much washing on the line as is possible in a 24-hour period.

It has been like the Olympics of washing. My personal record was three loads washed and dried in the one day whilst working at home. It was the nearest I ever came to being a success as a homemaker.

It is a rare moment of triumph in a life where the music you once danced to is now your accompaniment as you clean the kitchen.

Our reaction to this mini heatwave has been endearing. It shows just how gifted the Irish are at gratitude.

In a year of Covid, being able to sit outdoors for coffee in freezing conditions was considered a win. We were happy to don mittens once we could have the chats. We know that every single day of sunshine is a bonus and we are maximising every moment of it.

Irish people are at their best when they appreciate that the pleasures of life are fleeting. We work as a nation as the scrappy underdog qualifying for a World Cup by the skin of our teeth. We have no expectation of constant good times so we grab whatever joy comes our way with both hands.

That said, I recall Russell Brand once saying that filming in Hawaii should have been idyllic but he was bored by the constant sunshine. He must be one of our own.

Bring the Child of Prague back in. Please

Perversely, we love the good weather but we are also delighted that it won’t last forever. A steady supply of pleasant weather doesn’t suit us.

Deep down, we like the fluctuation of the elements. We enjoy saying “Jesus, it’s bitter” or its more dramatic cousin, “it’s feckin’ Baltic”.

Too much good weather and we would feel beaten over the head by a rainbow. 

Already people are posting memes pleading with the person who put the Child of Prague statue out to take it back in.

Of course, as the heatwave progresses, we delight in the what-could-go-wrong scenario. The papers were all at it this week. Warning us not to drink ice-cold water when we are boiling hot.

Various media sites told us the cautionary tale of Texan Adam Schaub who was working outside in one hundred-degree weather.  He drank “an ice-cold drink” in his truck. Within seconds he was “unconscious” and his dad was “wiping blood out of his eyes”. Like this would ever happen in Ireland. 

Schaub was sawing trees in hot weather. We do NOTHING when the temperatures rise. 

As for the tip that “hot tea cools you down”, sure every Irish mammy has offered tea as the answer to every problem for decades.

Here comes the rain...

The tabloids are great for this doomsday stuff. In one article, the ‘Sleep Advisor’ warned us about using our fan all night.

“If it’s been collecting dust on the blades those particles are flying through the air every time you turn it on. Your skin may also suffer from the fan being on all night as it can dry it out.”

So look on the bright side. The medium-term forecast may include rain, but at least you won’t look like a desiccated mummy from overuse of your new fan.

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