IT’S been some week, lads. Glorious summer days to while away at the beach.
The feeling of hot sand under your feet. Children laughing in the surf. The cold comfort of a Wibbly Wobbly Wonder dripping onto your belly.
And it’s almost surreal to find myself sitting here in my Northside Dublin garden, writing this piece in the quiet heat of a summer night, like some class of a Spaniard.
But we’ve put down a long hard winter and you wouldn’t begrudge anybody this moment. I, for one, welcome our new Sun God overlords.
And I’m blocking my ears and closing my eyes every time George Lee appears on the telly to update us on the NPHET numbers.
It’s nice to dream on weeks like this, isn’t it?
To dream that we might no longer be confined to the conditions on this soggy island off the Western edge of Europe, famous for its extended memoirs about rain and Bovril and duffle jackets that go on for miles.
To dream that that we could truly live a Mediterranean life, that we could go ‘full Happy Pear twins on it,’ so to speak – sea-swimming at dawn, barbecuing prawns for lunch, swanning around in the evenings in our summer clothes shouting Holá at each other across the copious outdoor dining locations that have sprung up.
No siestas allowed!
But it’s a bittersweet feeling, I find.
Days like these offer confirmation of our deep-held suspicion that Ireland is indeed heaven on Earth when the weather plays ball.
Imagine if we even had 20% more of this? Is that too much to ask, Sun God overlords?
After a few days of intense heat, however, there’s the creeping realisation that you are in fact now far far too hot and that your pasty Irish skin just hasn’t been through the necessary evolutionary steps to equip you for such pleasure.
I’m sure like me that you started last week with the wild enthusiasm of an extra from Home & Away bounding into the waves.
But by the time Heatwave Day Four hits, you’re just sitting there in a puddle of your own juices like Steve Staunton in a baseball hat at USA ‘94. And when you are forced indoors for respite, there’s the wave of pure Catholic guilt that washes over you, telling you to go back out there and enjoy it.
After all, any day now the clouds will return, the mist will come in over the Galley Head to sit on you for weeks on end.
And meanwhile, you’re lying there on the kitchen floor with the blinds down listening to Ronan Collins?
Get back out into it!
It’s tempting to frame everything around the pandemic, and honestly folks, I’m as exhausted with all that too, but there is something about this summer and this particular moment in the crisis that is making a lot of us really reassess our relationship with the beach, the outdoors and our own domestic tourism offer. It’s a delight to see.
A glimpse of the future
With the pictures coming in of flash floods in Germany and mainland Europe offering a terrifying glimpse of the climate crisis to come, we all may need to get used to enjoying our own country an awful lot more in the coming years.
If those pictures aren’t terrifying enough, NASA’s report that a ‘wobble’ in the Moon’s orbit will add to the rise of sea levels and induce an onslaught of coastal flooding from the mid-2030s was truly terrifying.
It’s a stark reminder that the pandemic may look like a wobble itself when compared to the work we need to do to reverse the damage we’ve done to our planet.
It’s make or break time
In slightly more upbeat news, I was lucky enough to take a spin on my bike down to Croker for Pfizer Jab number two this week.
I also had my EU Digital Covid Certificate by email within three days.
The rollout has been an incredible achievement for the state and just this week we were vaccinating our population at a faster rate than any other OECD country.
It just goes to show what can be achieved by our public service.
Likewise, a mention has to be made of the exemplary response from the public as a whole.
As of last week, HSE stats on uptake by age group reported 84% amongst 40 to 49-year-olds, 91% amongst 50 to 59-year-olds, 94% amongst 60 to 69-year-olds, 98% amongst 70 to 79 year olds and 99% amongst the 80+ age cohort.
Uptake amongst younger age groups is reportedly just as energetic, with the Jansen pharmacy rollout proceeding at pace.
Of course, time will tell if this will be enough to prevent a huge wave that could scupper best-laid plans for the autumn and the return to school.
Across the water, Boris Johnson was declaring Monday their ‘Freedom Day’, where I presume he intends to fight Covid on the beaches and in the seaside restaurants.
With case numbers rising exponentially, and Johnson himself forced to self-isolate in the middle of it all, the weeks ahead could well be make or break.
Will we ever be free of this cursed thing?