Jennifer O’Connell: Honestly, it’s a good job we don’t have a summer every year

For the first time in living memory, families are debating how much they’re prepared to pay to not have to go on holiday

There isn’t a builder in the country with a T-shirt on. The tarmac is running in great rivers down the roads. It’s so hot, the hipsters are considering shaving their beards off.

In the park, teenagers with even tans in bikinis and board shorts are playing volleyball on the tennis courts, as though we're all suddenly starring in the current series of Love Island. One girl, involved in a complex game of hopscotch on the path, is gamely sporting only a coffee-coloured G-string, a bra top, and a rucksack.

“Merciful Lord,” an older woman walking past says, fanning herself furiously.

Honestly, it’s a good job we don’t have a summer every year.


For the first time in living memory, families are debating how much they're prepared to pay to not have to go on holiday. "Ryanair will only charge us €839 to cancel our flights," someone bellows. "That's not bad. We can't pay not to go on holidays, though, can we? Could we?" In the end, they figure they can.

Lookit, they decide, who needs Spain when, for just €120 and 7,500 litres of water, you can get your own swimming pool in Lidl?

Three barbecues

There’s no swimming pool in my own back garden, but my daughter’s kitten got so hot he jumped into the fish pond and had to be pulled out. We don’t have a pool but we do have three barbecues of different sizes set up at different stations around the garden, as though we’re expecting an entire boy scout troupe to pop around unannounced at any moment, in urgent need of sausages.

In a domestic emergency that got more immediate attention than the drowning kitten, we ran out of room in the fridge for trendy craft beers. My husband loads the cooler box outside. He is walking around urgently muttering about ice, like a newly qualified paramedic at the scene of his first accident. “Ice. We need more ice.”

I come downstairs on one of the last days of school and find the children hacking the legs off their school tracksuits with the kitchen scissors. "It's too hot," they moan extravagantly, these children who spent two years in living in California during the most prolonged drought in history, and are now ripping their clothes to pieces in temperatures of 25 degrees in Ireland. "I miss 'overcast'," one child says sadly.

Mad optimism

In town, there are people sitting on the benches that were installed in the shade under the trees on the main square in a fit of mad optimism several years ago, and never used since – at least not in any of the ways originally envisaged by the planners. But look – there they are now, actual people sitting around enjoying their environs in a civilised fashion, like figures in one of those architectural drawings of expensive new housing estates.

There’s been a run on floral tea dresses in Penneys and not a seat to be had under an umbrella outside a cafe anywhere, because the Spanish students have taken up permanent residence, smoking cigarettes, drinking tap water, and looking enviably acclimatised.

"Roasting" has replaced "grand" the default answer to inquiries about the state of your health – except for those of us who have once been to California or Australia or Dubai, and feel the need to remind everyone else roughly every 23 seconds that this isn't actually that hot, you know.

Wibbly Wobbly Wonder

On Twitter, there is an urgent flurry of tweets every time the mercury nudges closer to 30 degrees. Someone starts the usual calls to restore the Wibbly Wobbly Wonder to its rightful place in the canon of HB’s greatest hits. People share jokes about the tarmac filling in its own potholes and photos of the jellies that melted in their car, as visual evidence that we are living through an unprecedented moment in our history.

At work, missives are going around offices declaring shorts acceptable workwear. Flips flops are not. But no one cares because no one’s actually in the office, and no one has been in the office for days. Emails are not going unanswered, only because no emails are being sent. Meetings are being cancelled wholesale, because of “urgent appointments” everyone has somehow only just remembered they have.

Just as I’m thinking of cancelling a meeting myself in favour of an urgent appointment at the beach, I look out the window and see a Government Minister walking down the street in board shorts and what may be furry Crocs.

Hot and green

It’s the best little country in the world when the sun shines, isn’t it, everyone says.

My visitors from California are impressed. Is it always like this, they wonder and I swear it is. It’s so hot, they say. And still so green.

Oh yes, I say, that’s us. Hot and green.

By the time you read this, of course, it might all have ended. Our first real summer in 32 years may well have passed, leaving us only with gratifyingly tender shoulders and stories to tell our grandchildren about the big golden orb that once shone in the sky for weeks on end, and how we all lost the run of ourselves entirely, and how it was utterly brilliant.