Brendan O'Connor: If only we had the weather...
So apparently this would be a great country, if only we had the weather. And then we get the weather, and, true enough, it’s a slightly better country. But with the weather comes the dawning realisation that even when we have the weather, we still have to go to work.
Irish people associate good weather with not going to work. That is because normally, when we encounter good weather we are abroad, on our holidays, and not at work. And normally, in the kind of places Irish people go on holidays abroad, no one seems to be doing any work. People sit around scratching their bellies and talk extravagantly to each other over little cups of coffee.
So we imagine that if we too were to have the weather we too would sit around not doing much apart from animatedly talking to each other. The country would be falling apart around us but we would dismiss it with a Mediterranean shrug. We wouldn’t care because we had the weather.
But then the weather comes and we find that while it is lovely outside, we are mainly stuck inside at work. And then we start thinking dark, resentful thoughts about the weather. It is out there taunting us. As if it’s not bad enough having to be at work, now there is suddenly a viable alternative, which is being outside, or at the beach. Then we get slightly jealous of people who don’t have to go to work. We are walking around in the evening and there they are, sun-kissed and maybe slightly pissed, clearly having been sitting in their shorts for the day somewhere. Or we see them coming home after a long day’s fishing, as we are trying to get out and get at least an hour of the evening sun.
You can tell that things are bad when you start fantasising about having that life of leisure. I even considered playing the Euromillions last week. My wife was a bit taken aback and tried to direct me towards the regular Lotto, but I pointed out to her that you need to win big when you win these things. The regular Lotto would be just enough money to cause trouble, but not enough to never work again and live high on the hog. By the time you would have shared your paltry million and change with all your grabby and expectant relatives, given a bit to some causes to ease your conscience, and then bought a house, you’d be back where you started except everyone would hate you.
With the Euromillions you could give everyone in your extended family a million each, dole out plenty to charity, and then, your conscience at rest, you could flit between houses all over the world, accompanied by an entourage of nannies, teachers, speech therapists, whatever you wanted. And most importantly, you would have serious fuck off’ money. You would be hoarse from the amount of people you’d be able to tell to fuck off.
I recognise of course that the odds on the Euromillions aren’t great so I do have a back-up plan. At some point I am going to spot the next big thing and know I’m spotting it. I spot the next big thing all the time. That’s easy. The trick is to believe yourself. For example, I knew decades ago that Apple was special, from the first moment I clapped eyes on a PC. We were in on the ground floor with Apple at my school. But I only realised how fantastic Apples were when I saw the clunky alternative.
Since then I’ve spotted lots of next big things. Myself and a bunch of other guys tried to start a Storyful idea before Storyful did; I tried to get my monied friends to hoover up apartments in Grand Canal Dock when it was a wasteland a few years back. I could see that while it was temporarily down and out, it would one day be our Barcelona. Last year, I saw that Birkenstocks were about to have a moment. I even looked into buying them — the shares, not the sandals. But they are not for sale. And this summer I see that Birkenstocks are back again on the high-fashion catwalks. I also spotted Mulberry before they were stratospheric, though I see they overplayed their hand on jacking up their prices to luxury levels.
It’s not too late yet. I’ll find the next big thing soon enough. And then I will neither have the excuse of weather nor work for why life is not the fantasy it should be.