Ah August, the Sunday of the summer holidays. The weather is turning, the evenings are drawing in and the inbox is flooded with terrifying missals about the school year ahead — book lists, uniform price lists, requests for payment via various apps that we don’t quite understand.
Once you are in the second week of August, you can practically hear the Glenroe theme song, signalling that our three-month-long weekend is coming to a close.
Of course, there is no greater sign that summer is more or less done than the ending of Love Island. My wife and I, my daughter and her boyfriend, and our eldest boy all watched it, which, when you consider how people consume media today, is remarkable.
All of us — two sprightly fortysomethings and three teenagers — scheduling it in so we would convene in the living room at a set time to watch a show on terrestrial TV like we did in the olden times.
You can say what you like about the show, but its power is remarkable — it is part pantomime, part game show, part soap opera, part gladiatorial arena.
During the ad breaks we would all take to social media to see the funny — and often brutal — reactions from the tricoteuses of the internet to the latest cull.
This year’s season featured one islander, Jacques O’Neill, who left in a state of what can only be described as pretty profound distress. It was extraordinarily uncomfortable viewing — it should never have happened and when it did, they shouldn’t have shown any of it.
In the aftermath, it was revealed he was diagnosed with ADHD as a child. Anyone with a child with any condition that manifests itself behaviourally must have been watching with very mixed emotions. And by anyone, I do mean me.
My youngest child was diagnosed as having sensory processing disorder, and while all our kids have various ailments and illnesses, he is the one I worry about the most because it affects his emotions.
He is hyper sensitive to stimuli — a trip to a funfair would send him ballistic as the lights and noise are like torture for him.
There are some settings where he is calm despite the stimuli, such as the cinema, but if there is a lot going on and multiple sources of sensory information, he struggles.
‘Struggles’ does a lot of heavy lifting there because it can be anything from him refusing to move when walking down the street or just getting really upset about the tiniest things — he finds transitions hard, so even going from our house to the shop can be difficult for him.
Seeing Jacques completely lost and overwhelmed in the villa just reminded me of how my little boy sometimes finds it hard to contain his emotions — the world he inhabits is so different from mine that it can be hard to understand what is going on with him.
After Jacques left, I didn’t watch too much more of the season. It just felt a little sour.
I didn’t stop completely, so I can’t take any moral high ground here. But I don’t think any of us want to see people genuinely suffering — after all, the show is meant to be about love, or getting the shift, or something, and not about placing people in situations they shouldn’t be in and showing what happens when they fall apart.
For their families watching at home, it must be agony knowing that this isn’t who their child is.
But Love Island is over now, summer will be ending soon and school looms. My son has done really well since he started school and, for the past two months, has missed that routine.
Even the heat bothers him, so in our house we welcome the start of the end of summer and will be counting down the days to darkness, silence and more wholesome TV shows like watching people eat kangaroo testicles on I’m A Celebrity.…