As soon as the sun comes out in Ireland and the temperature starts to rise, we go bananas.
The fur-lined boots are put away along with the fleece-lined hoodies and ski gloves and instead, out come the string T-shirts, itsy-bitsy shorts and those skirts that start and end at the waist -- all accompanied by a bucket-load of white flesh. However, us middle-aged ladies have to be a little more circumspect when it comes to our choice of clothing and pale skin lest we become figures of fun, and we wouldn't want that now would we?
Circumspect, as we all know, is not a word in Maggie's vocabulary and nowhere was this more evident recently when the temperatures in the bogs hit 25 degrees and the buzzards hovered over the remains of Patsy's cupcake. All we needed was the theme music from Deliverance to ramp up the atmosphere.
All eyes were on Maggie as she swept up to our outside table dressed like a glorious bird of paradise. Her new maxi dress (a swirling mass of browns and yellows that reminded me of the toilet facilities at the Lisdoonvarna festival 30 years ago) was a tad on the maxi side and it dragged behind her like a train. It wasn't this, however, that drew the attention of the natives, nor the overly large green-framed sunglasses with gilt sparkly bits that would have put Dame Edna's spectacles in the shade. No, it was her skin, which overnight had gone from alabaster to russet with inadvertent streaks of horse chestnut. Her face was the colour of prune juice and a side effect was the smell -- a curious mixture of creosote and smoked mackerel.
"What in the name of Jaysus have you done now?" asked Josie as she rubbed her hand along Maggie's shoulders, removing some of the colour as she did so. Maggie did a little twirl and I suddenly felt overcome by motion sickness.
"What do you think of my tan?" she demanded.
"Where did you buy it?" asked Patsy.
"In one of those discount shops. They were doing three packets of tanning wipes for the price of two."
"Did you use all three in the one go?"
"Is it that obvious?" Maggie frowned as she lifted her dress to show us legs so brown they looked like stud fencing.
"Put it like this," said Josie. "If Sammy Davis Jnr was still alive we'd be hard put to tell the difference between the two of you."
"Sammy Davis -- was he that little guy with the gammy eye and a chin like a fish slicer?"
Believe me, Deliverance has nothing on us.