Sunday 25 September 2016

It hasn't gone away, you know

Published 30/08/2015 | 02:30

What happened to the summer? Is it gone? Was it ever here?
What happened to the summer? Is it gone? Was it ever here?

Our capacity for denial never lets us down. Some people say it has gone away, that it has left the stage. While others will tell you it never went away, you know. Some people practically deny it ever existed and if it did exist, they swear they had no hand, act or part in it. But still it remains the central talking point in Irish life, a huge part of the story of this country. Some even refer to it as the national question. So this is possibly a good time to take stock of this eternal question: What happened to the summer? Is it gone? Was it ever here?

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Our capacity for denial was stretched to the maximum this past week. It was as if the only way we could come to terms with the end of the actual summer was to decide that we were going to have an Indian summer.

Irish people have a great sense of justice and fair play about the weather. Despite decades of evidence to the contrary, we still like to cling to the belief that the weather should conform to some kind of International Convention on Human Rights, whereby if you don't get good weather in July, you should get it in August. And if you don't get it at the start of August, you should get it at the end of August. And if you don't get it then, well then call in the Indians, because we are owed some weather. It is our right, after all we've been through. God bless us, where else would a really bad July be taken as bona fide evidence that August was going to be a scorcher?

The actual meteorologists were at pains to try to calm expectations of an alleged Indian summer over the next week. They conceded that there might be a few relatively dry days and temperatures might go slightly into the late teens at times midweek, but they weren't exactly encouraging anyone to get out the bikinis. The media, knowing that the phrase "Indian summer" would guarantee a few clicks on the websites, took those few dry days and ran with them. The truth is that we all probably know in our heart of hearts that there won't be an Indian summer, that we won't be breaking out the unused sun-cream this September.

But we enjoy our delusions and our hope. And, of course, that great resilience the Irish people have, the resilience and determination that sees us having picnics, going to the beach and conducting all kinds of sporting and outdoor activities in the pissing rain, will ensure there is an Indian summer in our hearts and in our minds. Whatever the weather for the next week, you will see us out and about next week, ekeing out the last from the summer that never was, stolen moments and late evenings, even if the kids have gone back to school.

So in response to a letter this newspaper got yesterday from a little girl asking whether the summer really exists, we are delighted to say: Yes, Virginia, there is a summer. It exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.

Sunday Independent

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