Monday 18 November 2019

Aisling O'Connor: Why the Seamus in socks and sandals is part of what we are when sun shines

Heatwaves can cause temporary bouts of madness, as we all sizzle in the sun.
Heatwaves can cause temporary bouts of madness, as we all sizzle in the sun.

Aisling O'Connor

AN unexpected but welcome bout of sunshine is certainly good for the soul but has a tendency to cause havoc as we Irish grapple with the challenges of living in a hot country. Met Eireann currently has us on Yellow Alert for temperatures in the mid to high 20s. If there was a fashion police warning however, the caution would surely be escalated a couple of levels to red.

Sunlight is supposed to have a powerful effect on mental health. Brighter days foster a positive outlook. Typical of the cliche 'Paddy Irishman' jokes, this weather that's supposed to make us feel better, generates lunacy on a national scale.

The sudden change in the climate on these normally dull shores instigates widespread panic to barbecue, bask and bare. Sales of outdoor grills, paddling pools, and cider go through the roof as the public scrambles to take advantage of the sizzle.

Unfortunately we suffer from temporary madness as the urge to 'make the most of it' at any cost overtakes common sense.

Porcelain skin is traditionally an ideal of beauty but our celebrity-obsessed culture deems bronze to be the Holy Grail of complexions.

Tilda Swinton, Cate Blanchett and Gwen Stefani carry parasols and wear wetsuits to keep the sun off their signature skin tone.

We Irish don't look to these delicate beauties and feel a kinship. Any opportunity to defect to the other side is wholeheartedly embraced.

For Irish people don't understand the principle of sunscreen. That which protects from the sun while slowly allowing a tan to develop is not for us. We want a colour – anything but white.

Under the justification of making hay while the sun shines, how many of us have told ourselves that a little burn won't kill us and will eventually peel into a colour. It seems insane to get burned to a crisp on purpose, but the general consensus is that you'd be mad to block the sun's rays from ridding your shins of white glare.

Who cares if you end up looking more like a lobster than Brazilian glamazon Gisele?

There is also a sense of not wanting to overly invest in the summer, which is understandable given that we're lucky if we get two weeks of a heatwave in any given year.

It is odd, though, that on one hand there is no issue with buying a new barbecue, an inflatable pool for the kids and enough booze to sink a ship but we chintz on clothes and pricey sun cream. It will come as a surprise to none that mega-budget retailer Primark has just reported an 8pc rise in profits.

We are not like the Australians and the French who are used to dressing for the heat. They consider a pair of good-quality tailored shorts a staple of the working wardrobe.

When temperatures soar in Ireland, we either rummage in the back of the wardrobe and emerge in a pair of micro shorts barely seen since Italia '90, or hit the shops for a smash and grab at fast fashion.

Women are the worst offenders, with 'muffin tops' tragically unharnessed in waist cut-out one-piece swimsuits and striped feet from gladiator sandals worn without sun cream – not to mention those crotch-skimming hemlines.

Glory be to sunglasses. The sartorial mess-on-legs that is the average Seamus in socks, sandals and board shorts is an eyesore on many levels.

THE glare is two-fold as the sun brightens up the streets, and reflects off the pallid legs of those unaccustomed to stripping off.

We are predominantly a covered-up people – we simply don't like exposing our snow-white skin for no reason.

With the exception of year-round fake-bakers, the Irish only dare to bare in an attempt at a painful transformation.

We are a silly bunch in the most adorable way. The good weather is to be enjoyed – and no better people than us to jump in at the deep end.

George Bernard Shaw described Ireland as the world's largest open-air lunatic asylum. We just don't know how to things by halves. God bless us, the mad Irish.

Irish Independent

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