| 13.4°C Dublin

They slept through summer

We only see the sun for a few days ... so how come our lot were still in bed untill late afternoon?

'WE'RE only blessed," I tell my wife, or words to that effect, "that our boys are long past the age where they have to write an essay when they get back to school, titled 'What I did this summer'." "They may still have to," says my wife. "It's the sort of thing we used to have to do in French."

"Well, in whatever language," I say, "it would be a bloody short story."

"I'm quite sure," she says, "that the sun will shine again, not for just those five days."

"It may very well," I say doubtfully, "but will they sleep through it all again like they did the past week?"



Truth be told, that our so-called Irish summer is back to seeming more like a warm, moist October again, rather than a postcard someone has sent to taunt us from the Algarve, is a relief. It means we don't have to try and wrench the boys from the rancid teenage Velcro of their beds with the same weary cliches we've been shrieking hoarsely all week, such as 'Get up, you're missing the whole summer'.

On the nicest day of the year – last Sunday – it was almost 2pm before one of us ventured up to the loft to where the second eldest and his younger brother lay entombed in what can only be described as a hermetically sealed pet cage.

The only thing missing, one couldn't help but think, while shuffling, nostrils clenched, through the gloom of unbearable heat – a cross between a sauna and a rugby team's laundry bin – were wood shavings on the floor, which there may well have been, judging by the wince-inducing crunch of detritus underfoot.

And there they groggily lay, sweaty fringes plastered to their foreheads, squinting like hairy, bad-tempered moles, the opening of a Velux window making an audible 'psshhhht' noise like air rushing into the hatch of a submarine after a month at the bottom of the sea.

"Don't even tell that story," says my wife now, "like YOU'RE the one who went up there."

"I'm cursed with a vivid imagination," I tell her. "Anyway, my stomach isn't strong enough. I wouldn't last 10 seconds in the hot mushroom fog of that crypt."

Only our daughter ended up tottering to the beach with us, and that was under relative duress.

"What ever happened to a nice family day at the seaside?" rues my wife as we sit here reminiscing. "Netflix happened," I say.

We were home again, pink and stinging from Irish overexposure, by the time the first teenager lumbered into the kitchen.

"We're out of cereal," was all he could mumble.

"It's 4pm," my wife told him. "Put some shorts on, we're having a barbecue."

"I don't have any shorts," he griped. "None of us do."

"Then put your trousers on and fetch me the scissors," she said.

"I'll find some shorts," he muttered.

"We don't have a barbecue," offered the eldest sullenly. "It dissolved. In the garden. A year ago."

"We're borrowing one," said my wife. "And we're HAVING a barbecue." She said this through gritted teeth, putting equal emphasis on each word in a way that made them non-negotiable.

We ended up pootling up to the allotments and ferrying firelighters and burgers down to a tiny unplanted corner of our modest patch of stringy, struggling vegetables, then squatting in the smoke for an hour, the first summer outing we'd been on as a family in what seemed like years.

"But do you know what?" I ask my wife as we sit now behind wet windows, talking about this as if years have passed, not just three days, "it was quite nice to have them all together like that."

"Amazing though," she says, "how the three boys still managed to sit on that tiny blanket without actually looking at each other." "Comical," I say. "And quite the feat. We may have to keep getting consecutively smaller picnic rugs each year, just as a joke."

"Don't you remember what happened next, though?" says my wife. "We all lived happily after?" I offer.

"No ... well, yes," she says, "but BEFORE you drank all the wine."

"Um," I say. But I do remember. The eldest upped and left on his long-board and didn't come home until two in the morning; the second eldest hooked his head up to some manner of handheld device and stumbled off to meet friends down the town; and the youngest teen shuffled home after much pleading.

"And Jessica," she says, referring to the little girl, "got a lift home with one of our friends."



"Who had come with more wine," I blurt enthusiastically, suddenly remembering. "Then she locked all the doors and taunted her brother for an hour from an upstairs window before letting him in," she says.

"And it was the Best. Summer. Ever," I say, slapping the table.

"Well," she says, "it looks like the sun is coming out again, so you best get some shorts on this time."

"I don't have any shorts," I tell her.

"Then put some trousers on," she says, "and fetch me the scissors."

"I'll find some shorts," I mutter.