KITCHEN SINK DRAMA
There will come a time, in the future, when everything will be awful again. For some of us, that time will come sooner; the lucky few will last a little longer. But at some point, there will be days, for all of us, of absolute misery and wretchedness. But at least now, we have our bridge over troubled water. From now on, when you’re weary, feeling small, when tears are in your eyes, just think back to the first week in June 2013, and I think you’ll find that’ll dry them all.
Where did it come from? Even Evelyn Cusack herself would struggle to explain that. I can tell you that just a week before, I was doing some filming in Thurles and I finished up wearing all the clothes I’d brought with me for a week in one go, just to try to get some warmth into my freezing bones. Less than a week later, Thurles was quite possibly the hottest place in all of Europe. Spain, we were reliably informed, was cloudy; there was thunder in the UK and most of Central Europe was under water.
Exam weather, said some — but even the swarming gangs in school uniforms didn’t seem too put out by the sunshine, basking in its rays between exam sessions. I overheard a woman in a café advising the waitress that ‘they say it’s going to be even better tomorrow’, and, probably for the first time ever in this country, I thought to myself, that’s not actually possible. It was so hot that I — I! — put on sun lotion with double digits on the bottle.
On the train back to Dublin, I watched a whole stretch of this country, laced with beautiful blooming whitethorn hedgerows, stretched out beneath impossibly blue skies and I was reminded again that, on days like these, there is no more beautiful place on earth.
We put up our pool. We don’t do this every year — and certainly there was no justifiable cause for it last summer — because it takes a whole 24 hours to fill, which means that you need a guaranteed stretch of good weather to make the whole pesky endeavour worthwhile. It was worthwhile. The Dog, who presumed the pool was the world’s biggest drinking bowl while it was being filled, spent hours running round, begging to be splashed. The Youngest
The Dog thought the pool was the world’s biggest drinking bowl and ran round begging
to be splashed
was the first to immerse herself fully in its freezing water, followed by a dive-bombing Boy, whose voice appeared to unbreak in the process. On Saturday afternoon, a toddler, lathered in factor-a-million sunscreen, happily splashed around in it, and that night we had eight teenage boys in it. The Youngest brought a gang back from a birthday party on Sunday and when they’d gone, I finally dipped my own toes into its bracing waters and dunked right down in salutation of the gods of good weather. In the city, people complained about young men recklessly jumping into the Liffey from a restaurant roof. For a few days, it felt like water everywhere demanded to be jumped into.
Young Irish men can pass water on 360 days of the year and never feel the slightest urge to immerse themselves in it, but something happens to them when the sun comes out. Something happens to all of us. We eat too much icecream and drink too much wine and abandon our cookers in favour of unreliable fires in our back garden. I swear to God, for a whole week, Ireland smelled of charcoal and sizzling beef. When I went into my local butcher’s, the whole staff appeared to be on the verge of dancing.
Normal service will resume soon enough. I am already anticipating shivering in a fleecy sweatshirt in Dingle over the August bank holiday weekend. I hope it doesn’t rain too heavily when we go out fishing. I realise that the sunglasses I will wear in Croke Park will, in all likelihood, be more of an affectation than a meteorological necessity. I am presuming that one morning soon, we’ll run the central heating for a while, just to take the edge off things.
And in a couple of weeks, we will all hear the first bitter ‘well, that was our summer’ of the season. But when you do hear that staple of the Irish summer, just take a moment to remember exactly what it was like last week, and then offer a hand of consolation to the complainant. A bridge over troubled water, as it were. Because for the rest of this year, the only acceptable response to ‘well, that was our summer’ is ‘yes — but oh, what a summer it was’.