Irish whinging about the weather can get on your nerves. But my God the 2017-18 winter deserves all the whinging it gets. It’s toying with us, pretending to stop just long enough to get us to put away our thermal long johns, then whipping back into vicious life. Here’s how I comfort myself as I stand at a Dublin bus-stop with every piece of exposed flesh flayed by horizontal sleet.
First I remember how things were just a short generation ago, when central heating was a novelty in Ireland. For the four months of winter, life shrank down to the semi-circle around the fire. Many’s the seat of a pair of trousers I singed painfully in the quest for a biteen of heat. Ochón
Then I think back further. Imagine life in the Viking town around Wood Quay in Dublin, where the only heat would come from a fire without a chimney in the centre of a mud-and-wattle hut. Then just think what persistent Irish February rain could do to a mud-and-wattle hut.
“What didn’t kill them made them stronger”? I’m sure Irish Februarys killed more Vikings than Brian Ború. So I feel thankful (and hope that bloody bus comes soon).
My real heroes at this time of the year, though, are Irish Met Office forecasters. Your heart has to go out to them. They have the most thankless task you could imagine, so they keep trying to soften the message:
“Scattered showers of locusts spreading from the West in the morning, turning to fiery hail by the afternoon and becoming persistent overnight. But it’ll be mostly dry on Friday!”