Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Weather

“Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.”
So said Mark Twain, or was it Ronan Keating? The two are so similar it’s easy to get them confused.
Whichever of the two academic genii of the western world it was, they certainly had a point. I am rapidly becoming exasperated by our summer weather, and if I knew what a tether was, I’m sure I’d be at the end of it.
Don’t get me wrong. My son informed me when doing his geography junior cert that Ireland enjoys (I use the word very loosely) a mild oceanic temperate climate. Basically, this means that winters are pretty dreary, but summers are quite pleasant, if not actually hot.
Therefore, I never complain about the weather in winter. It rains, but you expect it to. There are howling winds, but you dress accordingly. Granted many of the younger generation venture out in bellytops in November and then complain of the cold, but to anyone with a modicum of sense, winter weather is pretty useless. You don’t expect anything else.
However, summertime ought to be a time of lengthy spells of blue sky and a bit of heat from the sun, just as they were when we were young. And before you say, its only an illusion, and summers were always very dodgy, err, no, they weren’t. I remember spending much of my childhood’s summer holidays on the beach. More than that, we’d go swimming in the sea, spending hours in there.
Have you tried swimming in Bettystown recently? Dip a toe in, and you have to be treated for frostbite. The coastal waters of Ireland are almost completely human-free, as compared to thirty or forty years ago. Kids play frisbees or football or build sandcastles, anything to avoid getting into the water. Global warming, me backside.
When was the last time we had a decent summer, a summer with weeks of hot, sunny weather? I’ll tell you when – the summer of 1975, thirty years ago this year. Thirty years? That’s far too long to be waiting for what should be normal, average weather for the time of the year.
People point to the summer of 1995 as being a great summer. Was it? We spent a fortnight in Spiddal in August and it rained virtually every other day. The indoor swimming pool and amusement arcades of Salthill got great mileage out of us that year. In August, please note. That was one of the last times that we spent our summer holidays in Ireland. Such was our frustration, that we’ve holidayed abroad ever since, save last year, when we ended up in a house full of steaming, drying clothes in Bantry.
I’m sure we’re not alone. Can the Government not see that it’s a false economy to have such useless summers? Foreign holidays are the norm now, and there’s a crisis in Irish tourist circles. Imagine all those harp-stamped euro being handed over in Praia de Rocha and Puerto del Carmen, and think how much they would aid our flagging tourist economy.
Such is the scarcity of hot summer days in this country, that whenever we do get a couple of days of decent weather, we go completely overboard, strip off to our skin and end up like overripe raspberries. Everyone goes around saying what fantastic weather we’re having. But it’s not. It’s only the normal average weather that we’re supposed to get in the summertime. We should have weeks of this, not the odd day here and there when “it’s not too bad out of the wind.”
Rubbing salt into the wounds is the ever-cheerful Gerard Fleming and his grinning cohorts at Met. Eireann. Why does he wink at us, as though letting us into some great meteoroligical secret, and then inform us with a grin about the latest flash-flooding or severe weather warning? Joan Blackburn could at least attempt to show a bit of contrition for the abject weather she dishes up nightly.
Why is Joe Higgins not putting pressure on these weather gurus up in Glasnevin to serve up a nice long dry spell for July and August? I’m sure his crusade against the bin tax was very laudable, and his support for the Turkish workers likewise, but he seems to be overlooking the most fundamental issue of all – the weather. The weather is at the heart of everything. You don’t mind sitting for hours on the M50 if you know that, come Saturday, you’ll be throwing an extra burger on the barbie with the Beach Boys blaring out from the boombox. So your son is in a class of 70 in a ramshackle shed in the grounds of the local school? Who cares? We’re bringing a picnic and going fishing down the Tolka at the weekend.
I read in the papers this week that parts of England are currently enforcing a hosepipe ban. The same England that lies just across the pond and enjoys the same oceanic, temperate climate as us? Yep, that’s the one. Does something smell fishy to you? My nose hasn’t stopped twitching since I read that.
Why have we agreed to take England’s fair share of rain and added it to our own? What kind of hold does mad Tony have on Bertie that our esteemed Taoiseach has agreed to this? Doubtless it will all come out in the twenty-five year State Paper rule, but most of us will have emigrated to Andalucia by then, if this present trend continues for much longer.
I mean, it’s not rocket science. All Winking Gerry has to do is to change a couple of those Ls to Hs, and push those isobars apart a bit. Maybe they’re completely out of big smiley sun symbols or perhaps they’ve just rotted away through disuse.
It’s not Gerry’s fault. He’s a rain man. He likes torrential downpours and winds rising to hurricane force 10, and that’s his prerogative. But nobody is putting pressure on him to spread a little sunshine our way. Au contraire, he was probably picked for the job precisely because of his penchant for dismal weather. A subtle Governmental subterfuge designed as a sop to our English brethren across the water.
So, come on, Ruth Coppinger! Come on Leo Varadkar! We put you in, and we can put you out too. Once we get some long, hot sunny spells, all our other problems will decrease in size. Even if you have no influence over the druids of Dublin 9, then press for our own meteorological service in Dublin 15, and give the weather back to the people!

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