There are some memories that never leave you and anything can bring them unbidden to the front of your mind: a smell, an advert on television, a piece of poignant music. Weather can have that effect on me too.
When it's wet, windy and wild outside, my memory throws me back to a particular holiday with my parents when I was a young child. We'd gone to Galway over Easter in our old caravan, only the weather had forgotten to move out of winter mode and into spring. We spent the next few days gazing out at Galway Bay through the steamed up windows while the wind howled around us, shaking the caravan.
We spent entire days cocooned in those itchy, nylon, bright green and orange sleeping bags that were the height of camping style in the late 1980s. The furthest we ventured was the fairly woeful and icy cold toilet block 50 yards away from our front door, though it felt like a marathon, trying to get there and back and still maintain some heat in your bones and a few dry bits of anatomy.
Yet it was one of my fondest memories, looking out on that beautiful view, drinking steaming mugs of hot chocolate with marshmallows and laughing uproariously with my parents and sister as we played snap, old maid and pontoon.
Not that weather always brings happy memories to mind. The high temperatures and thundery weather this week have retrieved my recollections of living, working and, worst of all, commuting in London. My travails with public transport were rarely pleasant while residing there, but add into the mix massive overcrowding and sticky summer days and no wonder it felt at times like I was following in Dante's footsteps.
My worst experience was when, in the midst of rush hour, on a baking hot July morning, the Underground train I was on broke down and I spent four hours on a carriage with no air conditioning, getting drenched in other people's sweat as we stood like sardines, shoulder to shoulder. Well, shoulder to armpit for those of us who were vertically challenged. Just where you didn't want to be. It was after that experience that I decided I was definitely moving back home to Northern Ireland.
But while wonderfully happy or fairly horrible, those are my memories. They're one of the few things that are truly ours and no matter how much or how little you have in the bank, no matter where you live or what you do, no one can take them from you. Whether good or bad, they're responsible for determining our outlook on others and shaping the person that we become and present to the world. That's why we get so upset when something threatens to corrupt a memory that stands out for us.
We tried our best to copy the tricky dance moves, taking it in turns to do that famous lift
For me, one such important recollection is watching the film Dirty Dancing in the summer between leaving primary school and starting secondary. My best pal and I were going to different schools and had determined to spend as much of the holidays together as possible. The weather wasn't great so we passed almost every afternoon in her living room, listening to the rain pelt off the windows and watching that film endlessly. We learnt every word of dialogue and tried our best to copy the tricky dance moves, taking it in turns to do that famous lift.
We were emotional and anxious about being separated when September came, fearful that life would take us in different directions, which it sadly did. We still saw each other occasionally in later years but that almost sibling-like closeness was lost. But for the duration of that summer, while engrossed in that film, all unhappy thoughts were put out of our heads as we fell in love with Baby and Johnny, while they fell in love with each other.
When I watch it now it still brings back those slightly bitter but mostly sweet memories, which is why I was disturbed to read this week that a sequel has been announced, 33 years after the original.
I for one won't be watching it. I don't want to know what happened next to Johnny and Baby.
Instead, they'll live in my memory, forever frozen in their youth and in my summer holidays.