Sound Off: Missing a spot with the factor 50 is zero craic

I find myself, as I do every year, dabbing aloe vera on to the Picasso artwork of burns on my skin

It was Leonard Cohen who wrote: "There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." We can all agree that he was ruminating on that which bound us all over this trying summer – the proper and complete application of suncream during a heatwave.

A skyward scowl. The grim realisation: sun protection must be increased by two million per cent to be in with any chance of avoiding the pork-crackling look. I dream of the impossible, to be cool and breezy in the loosest, least amount of clothing possible, while at the same time being more hidden from the sun than Count Dracula's freckly Wexford cousin himself.

And so the layering up and down begins – a string top, billowing summer skirt. Lovely. Next, the suncream, factor 50 for the limbs, factor 30 for the face, and factor 15 for the tips of the ears. This is followed by the shawl, the hat, the sunglasses, umbrella, going indoors, blinds down, and lying under one of those silver foils for keeping your car cool. Seeming less easy breezy and more Boo Radley by the minute.

Ah, the suncreamy smell of a hundred happy sunsets on our small, sandalled feet and scuffed knees. It's a pity my factor 50 makes me look like Kirsten Wiig in that food-poisoning scene from Bridesmaids now.


And so, at the end of the day, I return home to find the light has indeed found its way through the cracks. Here lies a perfect triangle – always a triangle – of burn, somewhere nonsensical like the sole of your foot or your armpit. As Brian Friel writes in Dancing at Lughnasa, "suddenly, suddenly you realise that hair cracks are appearing everywhere; that control is slipping away . . ." But I tried! The factor 50! A sun hat St Brigid would be proud of! I find myself, as I do every year, dabbing aloe vera on to the Picasso artwork of burns on my skin. There is a crack in everything. This is zero craic.

Cara Dunne is an artist

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