KILDARE OPINION: Summer days mean survival tactics for we sunshine dodgers

Laura Coates gives her views

Laura Coates


Laura Coates


KILDARE OPINION: Summer days mean survival tactics for we sunshine dodgers

It's around this time of year when Laura starts to adopt vampire survival tips to avoid direct sunlight

In case you missed the unexpected appearance of the glowing orb in the sky last week, with its accompanying rise in temperature, there was no getting away from it in the office.

Here at Leinster Leader HQ, the fans were on full blast, there were sandals aplenty and emails were landing with a sunny ‘ping’ and the chirpiest of introductions.

“Dear Laura”, “Dear Editor”, (or, to really get my hackles up and immediately hit the delete button, “Dear Sir”).

“I do hope you’re getting out to enjoy some of this fine weather we’re having. Now, let me tell you about…”

“I’ll stop you right there, Carol,” thought I on more than one occasion in face of this seasonal blast of faux-friendliness.

For I’ve no intention of venturing outdoors more than necessary until this anomaly has righted itself and the customary murk has returned to our — unfortunately — fair skies over Kildare.

The past week hasn’t been kind to the milk-bottle of skin and weak of eyeball among us.

Or, as we’re otherwise known, those over-endowed with Celtic genes who turn crispy and red at the first rays of sun.

We’ve spent it darting from shadow to shadow at lunchtime, trying to avoid the sun’s poisonous rays with the vim of Bela Lugosi dodging an open window, fearful of the effect if we stay too long in the sunshine.

Because, let’s be honest, this summery lark doesn’t suit us Irish. We weren’t built for it. We’re made for surviving horizontal rains and bleak, brief windows of daylight here on the side of the Atlantic ocean, not sipping cocktails at lunchtime in a beer garden.

But some of us haven’t realised it yet. We see it in the sunburn flaking off their shoulders, having merrily cast aside their tee shirts at the first sign of good weather.

Is it some sort of a badge of honour to see if you can get more badly burned than the bangers on your hastily slung-together B&Q barbecue grill?

Many of us misfortunates, who the sunshine suits worse than others, don’t have happy, hazy childhood memories of endless glorious days by the beach or on the Curragh.

I can recount my childhood family summer holidays by the extent to which I was over-toasted and spent evenings praying for sundown, instead of doing normal things like building sandcastles and splashing in the surf.

Shanagarry, Co Cork? Painful blisters on legs and back.

Westport? May also have developed weird sun allergy rash on my face, but got out of climbing Croagh Patrick.

I liked Kerry, only because I seem to remember it poured rain for days and they left me alone to read Famous Five books in the back of the car.

(This wasn’t neglectful parenting, by the way. It’s just the way things were done in the Eighties, and I’m not sure if sunblock had actually made its way to Ireland yet).

There’s an old Noel Coward musical line that only “mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun”. You never see the Spaniards, or the Italians, or the Greeks, or anyone, really, for whom hot weather and sunshine is a cultural inevitability, soaking it up the middle of the day whilst traipsing around old ruins and generally over-exerting themselves. Those sensible cultures tuck themselves away in darkened rooms until the danger and it’s fine to venture back outside — elegantly — in the magic warmth of twilight.

We should follow their lead.

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