All the 'Shades of Grey' you could want this summer in Ireland
Two weeks ago, thanks to a flurry of Irish twitter activity built around a hash-tag topic of 'Irish 50 Shades of Grey,' I became aware of the book 50 Shades of Grey. At first I couldn't understand the tweets but assumed it was a play on the Johnny Cash song 40 Shades of Green and Ireland's weather this summer. Didn't take me long to realize that Johnny Cash and his song were not the source for the jokey tweets, but it was in fact a new book making headlines thanks to both its content and the speed at which it's selling.

50 Shades of Grey has been called "mommy porn" which is all I need to know. I'll be giving it a miss. I'll never know why it was called 50 Shades of Grey, although the title kind of surprises me because it sounds anything but sultry or steamy. In fact, it sounds cold and dull, just like our summer, which is why I was sure those tweets were about our weather.
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I suspect the dreariness of the weather here may well explain why 50 Shades is selling like hotcakes. Mommies the length and breadth of Ireland are probably only maintaining a tenuous grip on sanity given that the children have been cooped up indoors for the past few months. A bit of escapism in a fantasy novel might well be medicinal.

All of which brings me around to Mr Niall O'Dowd of this parish, who spent a few days in Ireland at the end of June, early July. After his few days he returned to New York, where the weather was sweltering in the mid 90s and he longed to be back in cool, damp Ireland. 

Don't get me wrong, I can relate to that feeling. I remember how uncomfortable New York can be in a heatwave. However, that's just it. It's a heatwave. It lasts a week, maybe two then it breaks then you have temperatures in the low to mid 80s with lower humidity and it feels pleasant. Maybe the serious heat returns, maybe it doesn't. 

Here in Ireland, however, this summer we have had week after week of dull, damp, depressing weather. We had one very good week of weather in late March and a half-way decent week in late May. That's it. 

Over dinner two weeks ago I casually mentioned O'Dowd's column. My wife's look said it all. She didn't want to say anything as our son was sitting at the same table, but the look in her eyes was murderous. This morning my wife, fighting a cold, looked at me, looked out the window at the rain pouring down and as she wrapped her hands around a hot cup of tea said to me, "If I ever meet that O'Dowd ... And we only have the one. Imagine what it's like if you have two, three or more young children?"

Yesterday was St. Swithin's Day and tradition has it that if it rains on St. Swithin's Day it will rain for the next 40 days. That basically means the rest of this summer is a write-off.

So stir crazy Irish mothers of stir crazy Irish children will have to find another book to see them through the second half of summer 2012. 

I have no idea what that book might be, but if my wife was ever to write a fantasy novel it would be less "mommy porn" than "mommy horror." I already know the plot: a middle-aged Irishman who has lived in America for decades returns to Ireland for a short break and waxes lyrical to Irish mothers about the benefits of Ireland's cool, damp summers.  The mothers, incensed, take revenge. They lock him in a small house with their children and plan to leave him there until he's driven insane and has to be led away by the men in white coats.

And the title? Well, for the moment it has a working title of "50 Ways to Slay."