Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

How hysteria about sunshine leaves me hot under the collar

I like a spot of good weather as much as anyone else, but if anything would make me glad to see the back of it, it's the hysteria with which I'm being told every hour of every day that the sun is set to continue shining.

It's as if this is the only news that matters. As if this is all it takes to make life perfect.

As if nobody ever gets melanomas, hospitals and old people's homes don't literally go into meltdown trying to keep patients cool, unemptied bins don't stink and people don't dive into rivers and drift out into seas and drown.

Here, rain always means the Troubles, knee-cappings in dank alleyways and police ticker-tape being stretched out across a road at dusk as the heavens open.

Sunny weather is peace and little boys from different sides clutching little symbols from the other's tradition and gambolling through fields.

It's like some sort of propaganda machine, pumping out only one message.

In fact, the blanket feelgoodery of it has become almost as unbearable as the heat itself. Every morning on radio and TV we're told in tones verging on delirium, with the enthusiasm you'd normally use only when addressing a class of five-year-olds, that it's another great day for the barbecue, the beach, the back garden.

For who exactly? Most of the people in Northern Ireland over the past scorched fortnight were here because they had to work – often longer and harder than usual because their colleagues had legged it on the annual Twelfth exodus.

Maybe if you're on air early in the morning, you've the rest of the day to loll around the garden in a pair of shorts but it ain't like that for the rest of us.

Oddly, too, given the extent of the heatwave, there seems to have been fewer warnings about sunscreen and staying hydrated even though the Met Office has already warned people are likely to die from the high temperatures.

Yet during our more routine overcast summers, these same messages were driven home with a religious fervour.

Amid the frenzy of sun zealots, I suspect there are thousands of us enduring the heat, jaded, exhausted, short-tempered and loathing the forced jollity we have no choice but to suffer.

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