Hasn’t it been a marvellous summer? Naturally, the weather is the chief topic in Ireland, even when we haven’t any. Weather, that is. No weather signifies bad weather.
At least where Johnny Beglwey is concerned. It’s been a great spell, he admitted, but added the caveat that before the start of the long summer, we had no weather at all.
The ‘weather birds’ on Sky News and the BBC, not to mention CNN, RTE, and all the assorted alphabet of new channels, seemed a bit left out of things, and tried their best to look happy for us out there in weather-land. I’ve long suspected that our various weathermen and women love it a tad better when the chart is awash with clouds that, in their potty parlance, ‘bubble up’. Talk of mixed metaphors.
The Irascible One licked the Guinness-froth from his upper lip and took a deep breath.
Then, while we waited upon his considered pronouncement on the matter in hand, he changed his mind, said nothing, and went back to contemplating his pint. Which was nearly as puzzling as going on a sunshine holiday when there was plenty of sunshine here. I can’t understand the folk who booked a Spanish holiday in the middle of our splendid summer. It might have been a few degrees warmer along the Iberian peninsula, but if one only goes to coastal Spain for the weather and the ocean, they might as well have stopped at home and enjoyed what we had here. And then came something of enlightenment from an unlikely quarter.
“You can’t get a Spanish suntan in Ireland,” Little Jimmy Murphy piped up. “I think you have something there,” Dolly smiled from behind a large glass bowl, which she was filling with pot pourri. Grunt, from Johnny Begley. And then we found out why the Irascible One was being so disgruntled. He was off to Spain himself the following Wednesday. It came as little solace to him that he had booked his Spanish sojourn away back in March, when the proverbial ‘many weathers’ were at play in field and village and town and suburb. Even though the leaves were littering pathways, still the sunny skies procrastinated over Autumn. The sun shone on, as though saying that the arrival of autumnal days would happen soon enough. Still, there was the unmistakeable ‘feel’ of autumn in the air even though it was still summery at the height of the day. And underneath it all, the orchards, with heavy-laden boughs, around which tractors and pickers atop mechanical things congregated to harvest whatever variety is in vogue nowadays.
And there’s a hint of nostalgia, too. I’m thinking of the late Gerald Spencer, proprietor of the now-defunct orchards of Silverspring Fruits in county Kilkenny, and his good wife, a lady of the old school, who died some little while ago. Good folk. God rest them both. It’s a cultural thing, I guess. This summer of summers, our heat has been ‘clean’ and not at all like the humid days we have been subjected to in years gone by. September, I gather, has been the warmest on record. And that’s saying something.
September has traditionally been a reasonably good month always to be relied upon to provide a modicum of good weather even at the end of a disappointing summer. Perhaps we really are getting, more and more, Mediterranean-style weather. In which case the weather-birds may have to revise their ‘script’. Less variation in the weather means less to talk about, less clouds and weather fronts for the computer graphic artist to shove hither and thither on our telpevision screen, or from Billy to Jack, as my old grannie used to say. I’d love to know who Billy was and why things went from him to Jack? – whoever he was.