They call it ‘climate change’. They always have to have a nice neat title for things these days: everything pigeonholed and computerised. It’s an industry now. Universities have whole departments on the subject; people are making careers from it.
In the ‘old days’ we used to call it a ‘bad summer’. I can remember a few of those: families huddled in raincoats and sou’westers on the beach with a makeshift windbreak round them against a bitter north easterly – stinging wind, driven sand, hail, sea fret, six foot waves… and this was August school holidays. We were tough in those days though: had to get there on overcrowded trains; ram-jammed into charabancs; ‘Heaven forfend!’ some of us even cycled there – but we were happy, Oh Yes!
I digress! This year was a long cold dry Spring. July in Ireland was the dullest on record and that’s saying something. I think we got it here too! Then the weather turned wet. Now I can’t remember the days precisely, but I think they were about a fortnight ago, when we had two days of sunshine with a few butterflies and dragonflies flying. I think that must have been ‘Summer’ – but don’t quote me on this!
The weathermen can’t seem to acknowledge a ‘Summer’s day’ unless its at least 30°C in London; then they start whinging about putting sunblock on; protecting yourself from the heat; keeping yourself hydrated. In my day a handerkerchief, knotted at the four corners, on your head and a bottle of ‘pop’, was you for the day – off larking across the fields (rural) or on bombsites (urban). The newsmen terrorising us all by the talk of hospitals filling up with droves of heat exhausted people or tsunamis of jelly fish.
Stop me someone! I had meant to talk about the paucity this year of certain butterflies, the cold Spring, volcanic dust and the Credit Crunch – leading neatly up to the fact that I have only seen two Swifts this summer and not a single House Martin, Sand Martin or Spotted Flycatcher… that is, until yesterday when I saw, hawking above the first Pool on the Reserve, a goodly crowd of them - amongst which I detected some Sand and House Martins. This looked like a pre-winter gathering, before sloping off to warmer climes. Treacherous animals! Why don’t they stay on and suffer winter here like the rest of us? Might toughen them up a bit then they wouldn’t have to be so bloomin rare! Serves them right, wasting their time and energy flying off to Africa (would cut down on air-miles too!): flogging their way passed the nets and guns of the Mediterranean hunters and the other nameless horrors of drought stricken sub-Saharan Africa. Perhaps a bit of ‘global warming’ up here in the North might encourage them to stay with us for the winter. That’s a good idea! Think I could make this the subject of a dissertation - if I could manage to get into one of our over-subscribed universities first!
If you look carefully you’ll be able to see the swallows hawking over the trees in sunnier climes
This article has been censored: the expletives have been removed – this is a family show