The Hectopascal

The running is going fine – not too good and not too bad.

A sore arse and a sore knee but nothing completely crippling and nothing that doesn’t react well to rest. I’ve ordered some magic socks and special pills from the internet that make running for ages a breeze (drymax socks and S-Caps) so I’ll keep you posted once the postman delivers them.

I’m off the booze for Lent and after the first week or so of wondering what the ample collection of wine glasses in the cupboard was all about I’m coping pretty well. I’ve taken up drinking redbush tea as an alternative to the vino tinto and it’s quite tasty.

That last sentence reminds me that I once saw a real live red bush – it was a Spencer Tunick mass nude photo session – and it was very off putting. Not something I’d recommend without drink taken. Apologies if you have a red bush – I’ve got the gene but it’s dormant so all I get are one or two flecks in the beard (now turning grey so no need to worry about it).

Apart from that I split my head open recently – this blog entry is starting to sound like the diary of a simple 14 year old boy- how could that be?!

This involved a trip to the local triage centre for some glue and paper stitches. It seems I’ll still have a cool man-scar on my forehead. The sort that would fit into a story about being koshed over the head with the butt of a gun (or cracking your head off the corner of  the extractor fan hood).

The title of this blog relates to the weather and how we report it in Ireland and how this is totally at odds with how we discuss it.

Before you read any further you have to realise that we, the Irish, are emotional pygmies.

That’s probably an insult to pygmies.

If, in conversation,  you ask us how we are we have a stock number of answers to deflect away from how we really feel. These are generally replies like “I’m grand”, “fine”, “great”, “couldn’t be better” and so on.

In order to stop you prying further into our emotionally fragile state we will normally deflect your attention away by changing the subject to the weather or offering to go for a pint with you (or often, both).

We normally use the same stock phrases for the weather (grand, fine, great, etc) but now that we’re talking about the weather we can use it for a metaphor for conveying  our emotions.  On a sunny day a melancholy Irish man will reveal his inner torment my telling you that it won’t last and rain is forecast. On the same day an happy Irish man will tell you that it’s great to be alive and the sun on your neck is a beautiful feeling.  Rain will keep the dust down or it will ruin the crops. The snow is good for the kids or bad for the wildlife, the wind is good for drying or bad for crops. Nearly everything is bad for the crops.

You get the general idea.

Now, if you tune in to our official broadcaster the weather is all cold fronts and anticyclones and Atlantic highs and millibars and hectopascals and rising slowly  and falling slowly and visibility (generally poor).

We are informed of our climatic state by scientists who’s language wouldn’t be out of place in a University physics lab.  All this does is make us feel even more alienated from our state of being. I’m sure this is part of the reason why writers like Flann O’Brien were so successful.

If we lived in the US or the UK they’d at least tell us how bad our weather was in language that the man on the Clapham omnibus could understand.  But not here. We have the weather presented to us in the specialist language that specialists use to make themselves special.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a weather forecast that said – tomorrow will be great for drying bedsheets on the line but if you’re going for a walk bring a coat ‘cos it’ll be a lazy wind; it’ll go through you rather than around you?

We get – the densely packed isobars with the Atlantic cold front will bring gusts of up to 15 meters per second to coastal counties and high ground.

I think I’m falling slowly.


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