Katy Hayes | The Sunday Times | Nov 29 2015
My husband is keen on watching the weather forecast after the RTE Nine O’Clock News. Being a writerly, academic, journalistic household, the weather has little impact on our lives. It’s not as though we are farmers out working in the fields; or construction workers digging foundations, who are in danger of getting flooded; or airline pilots at risk of failing to reach performance targets because of heavy fog.
So why is he so keen? “Oh, you know, the young lad on his bike,” he says airily. Our younger teen cycles to school and, if the weather is atrocious, one of us will give him a lift. But I know that this is not the real reason.
So, the weather comes on and he watches it for a minute and then says: “Ah, I couldn’t be bothered,” and turns it off. He loses interest in the weather when Jean Byrne is not presenting it. I notice this recurring pattern over time, and ask a few pointed questions.
He denies having any interest in Jean Byrne, beyond a general curiosity about isobars, and says he hasn’t the foggiest notion what I am talking about. But he is lying through his teeth. I know he is, in fact, rather keen on Jean. So I give him the icy glare.
“OK, OK” he admits, “so I do rather like Jean Byrne.” Ha — caught out. And then he adds: “But only because she reminds me of you.”
I am not at all mollified by this. It is true that Jean and I have a few features in common. She has dark hair; so have I. She wears her hair cut in a fringe; as do I. Her physique could be described as curvy; ditto here. But there the resemblance ends. I do not have a low, modulated, sexy voice; nor do I have an endless wardrobe of foxy dresses; nor do I easily channel Morticia from The Addams Family. I have never rocked the geometric fashion trend. My complexion would collapse in the face of day-glo pinks or solid-colour yellow dresses, and I know precious little about the Azores high.
When you consider it, I am like a frumpy version of Jean. Jean in mom jeans. And who wants to be that?
So I go a bit huffy with my fair-weather husband. A cold front approaches and a frost descends. I am a bit unsettled and changeable, frankly, and my feelings are fresh to strong. Generally speaking, I am mostly cloudy, with outbreaks of rain. A little weepy, so there is a chance of spot flooding. Early indicators suggest a tropical storm might be brewing out over the Atlantic and people are advised to prepare defences — the outlook is not good.
“You’re making heavy weather out of this,” he says, backing easterly. “She doesn’t remind me of you at all really. I simply said that to make you feel better when you were accusing me of only watching the weather because she was on it. You are like the opposite of Jean Byrne. You don’t look like her one little bit.”
“They all have lovely bottoms,” interjects Father Ted from the playroom, where the kids are endlessly watching reruns.
The predicted storm surge comes to pass. The gloom is persistent and widespread, with depressions spreading to all areas. Temperatures are noticeably cooler on higher ground, as in upstairs. There is a status orange warning for icy conditions, which will likely continue into the middle of next week.
It turns to status red. Storm Katy makes Storm Barney look like child’s play; it is a unique kind of cyclonic event, which takes place inside the house rather than outside. Turning on the central heating doesn’t help.
He is sorry he said anything now. Henceforward, he says, he will get his weekly weather information from the farming forecast at Sunday lunchtime, on the radio.