The Irish Tingle
“ Water is a great leveller.” My Mother used to say.
What the hell does she mean by that? I hear you ask. Well I guess what she meant was that when you’re feeling out of kilter or imbalanced emotionally, that submerging onesself in water would readdress this imbalance and help put everything back in some perspective. Now you might think that advice and insight such as this, would emerge from a being who was a great swimmer of the seas or one of those hardcore “January day” amphibious beings. But no you’d be wrong because all my Mother’s water adventures really just lay in her taking a lava temperatured bath every day, and wallowing in it “hippo- like” for an hour or two ( she’d kill me for saying that if she was still alive!) Nonetheless her sentiment was correct.
Having yesterday taken my first swim in the Irish Sea this year I can vouch for her great observation. For the first time in a while, without the use of alcohol or any other substances, I felt great.
What is it about the Irish summer that makes it so revitalising? Yes I’ve done the holidays on the Med, grilling myself in the sun, starved of all fluids, squinting at my book through sun induced tears mixed with a bit of sun lotion for extra sting. But I have to say that there’s something about sitting on half empty Irish beaches, denying grey clouds, flask of tea and egg sandwiches, camping chairs and a bit of craic that I just love. And the beauty of it all is that we still get in for a swim! It doesn’t matter that it’s grey and swirling. You get in, face contorted, shrieking as if being tortured and then 5 minutes later” ahhs” and “oohs” and enticements to the cowards on the shore with their dubious expressions, about how gorgeous the water really is. And it really is. You feel like you’re accomplishing something more than a gentle breast stroke in the Med. Pah! You feel like you’re doing something phenomenal even. Exhileration on a different level, and a sense of bonding and knowing with those who’ve entered that cold swirl with you. What else as simple, can do that for you?
Then back out to the stripey windbreaker to try and get some modesty, drying yourself with a threadbare seventies print towel (you can only just still see the print). They only seem to have those towels still in existence in Ireland. None of your fluffy primaried coloured shit that you get on your packagers. No a good threadbare cotton that gives a good rough dry with all the sand still stuck on the still damp body! I love it, love it, love it.! The Irish tingle. Throwing on the hoodie and opening the flask for another cup of tea. The smell of those wild shrubs that grow near the beach. Man it’s so good.
And there’s something about the light. You can’t beat the light. And when that grey breaks for one minute in the hour, we all look up as Ra’s rays flow through; we bask and heat up like lizards, smile at one another and know that it is worth it!