What a nation of whingers we are. I’m listening to it all week. “I hate it,” said my husband last Tuesday. There wasn’t a room in the house that was cool enough to sleep in. He’d lost his appetite. This heat made him feel sick.
Have a tepid shower and take those heavy socks off, I advised, turning my face to the sun.
My daughter rang. She had a terrible, raging headache brought on by the heat. She didn’t like this heatwave at all, at all.
Drink lots of water, I suggested.
“I’ve drank loads,” she said.
“Well, take Panadol,” I said.
“I did,” she answered patiently. “It’s too much, this heat.”
My friend phoned up to say she’d been afraid to come out of the shade for the best part of a week, and the one time she had ventured out into this raging desert sun which had appeared over County Cork, she’d burnt the back of her legs on the driver’s seat when she tried to drive to the shop for ice-cream.
“Ah, come on! You’re always saying we never get any sun,” I said brightly. “Slap on some sunblock and a hat. Get out there and enjoy it while we have it.”
Jeepers, I thought, isn’t this exactly what the multitudes are putting their health and lives at risk for, jetting off to all those Delta hot-spots the minute the government opened the airports? Absolutely desperate to get away from the clouds and the drizzle to blazing sunshine like this.
“I just want to sit in a cold room,” my husband moaned. “I want clouds. I want drizzle. I can’t stick this. If it was cold, at least you could put on a jumper. You can’t do anything with this. I can’t even find a cool room. Nowhere’s cool. It’s a bloody nightmare.”
Oh, for God’s sake shut up, I thought.
“Come for a swim,” I said.
“No. I hate the beach. I hate the feel of the sand. I don’t like the feel of sun-tan lotion. And the sea-water makes my skin feel sticky.”
He slumped, exhausted in his t-shirt.
“Take another tepid shower,” I said.
“I’ve just had one,” he replied, drying his legs with a towel. “But the good of it doesn’t last long.”
“At least stop wearing those heavy socks and those ridiculous work-boots,” I begged. “If your feet are too hot it makes the rest of you feel hot.”
(I didn’t entirely make this up, by the way — apparently, our feet, like our hands, are well supplied with blood vessels that allow for heat transfer, while the foot’s large surface area makes it an important heat exchanger. The way I figure it, this also works the other way round, that is, if your feet are cool the rest of you feels cool.)
“Stop making stuff up to prove what you’re saying,” he snapped.
In the end I gave up on them all, and went off for a swim by myself. I love this, I thought, as I floated on my back in an amazingly tepid sea. Even the waters of the normally icy Atlantic had gotten into the mood, rising to an incredible 18 and a half degrees (the lady swimming beside me told me she had checked this online), allowing you to sink in and enjoy after just three to five seconds of a less-than-usual freeze-shock.
I love these hot blue skies, I thought. I love the heat that doesn’t allow you to worry about anything and gives you the perfect excuse to take things easy. I love the little white baby clouds scudding happily after each other across a smiling sun. I love the shrieks of happy splashing children and the smell of sun-block and barbecue and the mothers yelling at the little kids to only go in up as far as their knees.
But even down on the beach there were still some people plodding around with martyred smiles.
“Are we allowed to say it’s a bit too hot,” a big man with a tan said to me with a complicit, put-upon smirk.
“Stop this right now, all of you,” I feel like shouting. “Put on your big boy pants. This is what summer is supposed to be all about! This is why you spend a small fortune putting decking outside your house and installing patios. This is why you all run off to Aldi every spring for the cheap outdoor furniture and the barbecue equipment.
When I went home, at around seven, the temperature was still over 20 degrees. My husband was sitting in the kitchen. He had, he said, gone off and bought two of those brightly-coloured plastic Adirondack deckchairs that, like the Supervalu suitcases years ago, have become the household icons of summer, 2021.
I looked out. The chairs were an eye-watering turquoise colour. He’d seen them on a mood-boosting trip to the local hardware shop and thought I’d like them for the patio. He’d set them up there, if I wanted to go out and sit in the evening sun.
“Oh, lovely,” I said, really touched by the gesture. “Let’s go and sit out on them right now and have a nice cup of tea and a chat.”
He looked horrified. “I wouldn’t sit out in this! I just thought you’d like one for yourself. Then I got the other one just in case someone came to visit you or something.”
Oh, God, just bring back the drizzle.