A Hot, Sticky, Sweaty Tuesday In July 2022

The flowers in my garden have seen better days, but forgetting to water them on the night before the hottest day since records began is my fault.

Well, the predictions I was talking about yesterday came true. Not long after midday at Heathrow, they finalised the hottest temperature ever recorded in the U.K. as 40.2C. This was following the hottest night on record, where the highest minimum temperature hit 25.8C in south London.  

That hot night was certainly felt in the Mulrooney household, where we all struggled to sleep in the stifling heat. It doesn’t help that the fan we have is basically blowing warm air at you. If these kind of nights become normal, it’s going be very uncomfortable to sleep during summer months. 

When we went upstairs to check on Noah, we noticed that his bedroom felt very hot. We made the decision to move his mattress into our bedroom so that all three of us could benefit from the fan, even if it turned out to be pretty lousy. At first he barely stirred, so we headed off downstairs. About 9.30 we heard him crying, and then all hell broke loose.  

Understandably, he was confused as to why he’d fallen asleep in his bedroom and was now waking up in our bedroom. He was kicking and screaming, barely able to get a breath out. A three-year-old doesn’t see reason when they’re in this state, so we let him calm himself down. He eventually told us he wanted to be back in his bedroom, so we carted everything back in there. But, again, he started screaming about something, and then wouldn’t let us take his duvet away. This was despite the fact that it was far too hot to be covering yourself with a duvet. But, kids, eh? They do weird things. We left him to it then came back while he was asleep to pull the duvet off him.

Instead of heading to an office that has no air con, I decided to work from home today. I realise I’m privileged to be in that position, but if you don’t have air con in your office and the heat is stifling, your employer should be letting you work from home if it’s practical. I’m glad I did, as comments from other co-workers who did go in made it sound like they were walking through the fiery gates of hell.  

Not that my little spare bedroom was much better. Even with the fan literally next to me, it still felt hot as fuck. On the bright side, I did manage to get lots of washing loads dried on the line. So, I guess there’s that.  

Tomorrow it’s supposed to go down to normal northern England summer temperatures of a high of 21C. Rain is even on the cards, which I’m sure my garden will be very pleased about. But, from the hot, sticky, sweaty, mess that I currently find myself in, I’m betting that tonight will also be tough to sleep through.  

Anyway, I’m off for a cool shower! 

It’s Time To Stop Saying It’s ‘Just Summer’

Today we reached 32 degrees in Burnley, a temperature I don’t think I’ve ever seen here. Tomorrow it’s forecast to reach 36 degrees. That’s definitely a temperature I’ve never seen here. We’re living in unprecedented times when we’re seeing temperatures like that in the North of England. If you look at what the experts are saying, periods like this will only become more common. 

People keep banging on about how the media is going overboard with their warnings. While the media are no strangers to hyperbole, and headlines that include words like ‘apocalypse’ are on the extreme side, the media also has a job to inform people and warning us about the dangers of extreme heat is exactly what they should be doing. Would you rather they stay quiet and don’t give out sensible advice through channels that millions of people read every day?

People accuse the media of not focusing on the climate crisis enough, then dismiss it all as ‘clickbait’ when the headlines eventually decide to run with it. On the other hand, the people dismissing such warnings from the media are probably the same people who don’t believe we have a climate crisis at all and that the hot temperatures are ‘just summer’. 

I’m convinced that lots of people only read headlines. These are usually fed to them in one of their social feeds, then they rush to the comments to spout their opinions without taking the time to read the content of the article. In fact, there’s research to back that up. According to a study in 2016, 59% of people shared links to news stories without ever clicking on the link. 

If you actually took the time to read the content of these seemingly hyperbolic news stories about the UK heatwave, you’ll discover that this isn’t normal. As stated in this ITV News article, the average maximum summer temperature here in the UK is 23-24C. The possibility of it reaching 40C means that it’s 17C higher than the lowest average maximum temperature. That’s not normal. It’s not ‘just summer’ and it’s not something we regularly experience in this country. Especially not 40C, which has never been reached in the UK since records began (the highest recorded temperature so far is 38.7C, which was set in Cambridge in 2019). How can people look at a temperature like that, in a country that’s known for having lousy weather, and think that everything is ok?

The warnings put out by the media are simply common sense advice that you should be following. When you go abroad to countries that regularly hit extreme temperatures, you’d be stupid to not consume more water than you would if you were back in the 23C summer of the UK. Countries abroad have also evolved to cope with these temperatures. People are used to working in higher temperatures, and they take breaks when the sun is at its highest. Air conditioning is also common in public and private buildings – including homes. Infrastructure in hot countries is built with heat in mind, and homes are designed to be cool inside. In the UK, our homes are designed to keep heat in.

But here’s what people fail to think about. If you’re fit and healthy then, as long as you stay hydrated and keep in the shade between 11am – 3pm, you’ll probably be fine. But, guess what? There are plenty of vulnerable people out there who won’t be fine. In fact, more people die during heatwaves. People need to get over the fact that it’s not just about them, and we live in a country where millions of people are vulnerable to events such as extreme weather. 

It reminds me of Covid when people thought it was ok to not wear a mask at the height of the pandemic, forgetting about the fact that it was done to protect those around you (actually, it was simply not giving a shit, and believing crazy conspiracies that some guy you went to school with 20 years ago has been posting all over Facebook). You might be ok if you have Covid, but that person with a weakened immune system who caught it off you in the super market might end up in hospital on death’s door.  

‘It’s ok, I’ll be fine’, seems to be the mentality of the people who spout that it’s ‘just summer’. Meanwhile, they’re unaware that their 80 year-old next-door neighbour has dropped dead from heatstroke.

When did we stop listening to experts anyway? Why are there so many people saying ‘I did my own research’? Like reading dodgy sites while you’re sat on the toilet somehow trumps experts who have dedicated their lives to studying a single topic. We have access to all the world’s information in our pockets, yet we’re somehow dumber than ever. Don’t Look Up, that film on Netflix about an asteroid hurtling towards Earth while everyone ignores the warnings of scientists, was 100% on the mark.

Of course, I’m no expert. But I listen to the experts. I try to understand what they’re saying. I don’t just read a headline and then jump into the comments to spout nonsense.  

So, if you do want to take the time to read more about what’s going on at the moment, click through to the links below. 

The terrifying truth: Britain’s a hothouse, but one day 40C will seem cool – The Guardian 

‘Collective action or collective suicide’: U.N. chief issues a stark warning as heatwaves sear Europe, the U.S. and China – Fortune 

UK Heatwave: Britain’s 40C future and why our homes, trains and schools aren’t prepared – I News 

Disability and the heatwave: Cooling solutions and disability as weather alert goes red – BBC News 

This excellent Twitter thread that sums up what’s happening across Europe. 

Advice and information from the Met Office. 

Bands To Watch: Meet Me @ The Altar

I’m over the moon that pop-punk seems to be undergoing a big revival at the moment, mostly fueled by Generation Z and amplified through platforms such as TikTok. The golden era of pop-punk is filling the ears of a new generation, influencing new bands and proving that singing about teenage-angst will obviously never die amongst teenagers. I’m probably going to write about that at some point, but for now I thought I’d launch a new series called ‘Ones to Watch’ and highlight a pop-punk band that I’m really loving right now. I hope to use this series cover relatively new artists that I’ve found in my voracious need to consume new music.  

Anyway, let’s meet Meet Me @ The Altar. 

The story of how Meet Me @ The Altar formed pretty much sums up how Generation Z lives their lives, as the band was formed completely over the Internet, with each member living in different US states. This thoroughly modern journey began in 2015, where guitarist Téa Campbell found the YouTube channel of Ada Juarez. Ada has been pumping out excellent drum solo covers of pop-punk classics on her channel since she was 14. The pair bonded and vocalist Edith Johnson would join them in 2017 after an audition where she sang Paramore’s All I Wanted.  

As they lived in separate states, they had to work on music remotely. They would also fly to Orlando to do basement shows, telling Louder: 

“I don’t even think there was ever a day where we didn’t talk to each other,” says Johnson. 

“It felt right though. Sometimes in life you have obstacles, and this distance just happened to be the thing we needed to overcome in order to do what we love. We never complained and we’re seeing those sacrifices pay off now,” she adds with a grin.” 


Their track Garden was released in 2020 and was well received, appearing at a time when we were all needing a little emotional support during an incredibly shit year dominated by a pandemic. From there, a record deal by Fueled by Ramen followed. Earlier in 2021, they released their Model Citizen EP and also went on a US tour with Coheed and Cambria (a band I absolutely adored as a teenager).  

The Model Citizen EP is brilliant, kicking off with the infectious ‘Feel a Thing’, a song that is constantly stuck in my head (in a good way). It’s also accompanied by a retro-inspired music video where the band go into an arcade and get sucked into a game. Cue some charming retro video game inspired graphics, with the band lovingly rendered as characters in a side-scrolling brawler.  

It’s also very refreshing to see a fully female pop-punk band and one made up of women of colour too. The pop-punk scene has mostly been dominated by chino-clad white men, from the early days through the 2000’s. A sizeable amount still put out pop-punk tracks in their 40’s that can sound a little dull and uninspired (see Green Day’s latest output). I’m not saying you can’t do a good pop-punk song when you’re older, but it is a musical genre that tends to be better with young and fresh bands like Meet Me @ The Altar, as well as connecting with a younger audience too. Plus, those older bands have made the pop-punk genre a little stale in the last few years. 

My teenage years may be long gone, but the energy that Meet Me @ The Altar put out makes me feel like one again. These newer pop-punk bands remind me of being 19 and sitting on a train at 7am in the morning on the way to university in Leeds. They always helped put me in the right mood, especially when I was half-asleep at that time. Those bands were also a big part of my identity at the time and helped me cope with the world. As much as I never want to back to how I was back then, as I’ve changed so much, I know that things would have been a lot harder without music like this. So, I hope that bands like Meet Me @ The Altar can help a new generation come to terms with who they are. I wish them massive success! 

The Dreaded First Holiday With Your Child

If you’re a parent but you haven’t yet been on holiday with your child or children, then let me tell you this. Dispense with any fairy-tale notion that you’re ever going to have a relaxing holiday when you go away as a family. Yes, maybe they’ll be a little easier once they hit their teens, especially if you only ever have one child, but those days of going on a chilled holiday as a couple are long gone. 

We were probably a little naïve in thinking it wouldn’t be too hard with a two-year-old. I mean, he throws a little paddy simply because a toy car won’t fit under a wooden bridge that’s about three sizes too small for it. So, why we thought he’d be ok I’ll never know. At least we didn’t have the stress of going abroad, as it was just a two and a half-hour drive to a Haven holiday park known as Primrose Valley in Yorkshire. 

It’s technically not our first holiday, as we went to Spain for a family wedding when he was only around 5 months old. But that was relatively easy, as he was still in the stage where he slept for most of the day. This holiday was our first trip together where Noah could now take part in activities and enjoy himself, although he had many moments that just made us want to pack up and head home.

Trying to get a family photo when a two year-old is wriggling around in your arms and refusing to look at the camera is hard. This was our best attempt in Scarborough.

But I’m probably being a little too harsh, as we did have fun moments on our holiday. It is, after all, mostly about your child having fun. Yet, we were utterly exhausted by the end of it to the point that we travelled home a day early on the Sunday (we were supposed to be out of our accommodation by the Monday) simply because we could have a day off from work to recover once we were back.  

That Lockdown Hair

The WHO declared the Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic on March 11, 2020. My son, Noah, wasn’t even one on that date. 

Here is Noah just a few days before that.  

Noah in his Burnley FC shirt with his Burnley book.

Here is Noah on the Sunday just gone. He’ll turn two next month. 

Noah and his long hair.

You can sort of chart the course of the year by looking at his hair, which has obviously grown a lot since the pandemic began over a year ago. It was whispy and thin at that age. It’s now longer and thicker, and he has the most magnificent bedhead every morning.

We’ve had few opportunities to get it cut, with hairdressers being open for a few weeks before having to close again. Cutting it ourselves just makes it look like we’ve put a bowl on his head, so we’re content to keep it as it is for now.  

But you can also see how much his face has changed. He’s now a little boy who can run around and say over 50 words. I’m constantly amazed by every new little thing he does, and he has a cheeky little character that always has me in fits of laughter. 

It’s a shame that the majority of a year of his life, which is a long time in a child of his age, has been spent being cooped up within the same four walls. We try to go for walks or go to the park when the weather is fine, but there’s only so much you can do when you’re limited to your local area and lots of activities you can do with your children are still closed.  

He still gets to the go to the childminders, so at least he has the social contact that he is mostly being deprived of in other areas right now. 

It’s the effect that the coronavirus pandemic has had on children that worries me the most. Maybe not so much Noah, as he’s still very young. But all the kids at school and the amount of learning – or simply just being able to be a child – that they’ve missed out on.  

It’s been hard for us all, mentally and physically, but I hate that children have had to miss out on chunks of their childhood. It’s something they’ll never get back.  

March Steps Challenge Mid-Month Check-Up

It’s halfway through the month, so it’s time for an update on our goal to hit 10,000 steps a day throughout March. Just a reminder that my wife, Alex, is raising money for Cancer Research UK while she does too. You can donate here.  

The good news is that we’ve managed to hit the target every day, even if it’s sometimes meant running up and down the living room at 10pm. My Fitbit says that I’ve done 196,701 steps since the start of March, which is well on the way to the 310,000 required by the end of the month.  

Steps that Thomas Mulrooney has done throughout March 2021.
You can see how I started off strong, but flagged a little by the second week. Still, it’s way better than the 42k steps I did in the last week of February.

I know some people who are doing it who aren’t doing 10,000 a day yet are still hoping to hit the target. In this case you’ll do more than 10,000 one day, then maybe only do 7,000 the next. But I’d rather not have a day off, so we’ve stuck to our guns. But, I’m not here to judge, so do it whichever way you wish. The priority is getting exercise. 

I won’t lie and say it’s been easy, as it’s been bloody hard at times. Sometimes you have a particularly busy day at work and, as I sit on my arse at a computer all day, I sometimes don’t get the chance to get many steps in. I try to remember to get up every hour and do at least 250 steps, because they all add up and it keeps me from being too inactive in a sedentary job. I also try and go on a walk on my lunch break, weather permitting. 

Speaking of the weather, that’s been a problem at times. Not that I’d expect anything less from the good old UK. It’s easy to say that you should go out and walk even if it’s raining. If it was a drizzle, sure, but I draw the line at lashings of rain amidst strong winds. On these days we have to do our steps inside, which usually ends up with me running up and down the living room.  

Alex has taken a less boring route than me and has taken to doing step workouts she found on YouTube. If you’re interested, the channel is called Get Fit With Rick. He has a variety of step workouts from a quick 1,000 to a knackering 10,000.  

I’ve also been trying to drink at least a 1.5 litre bottle of water every day. I started off well, but I’ve flagged a bit recently, so I need to get back into that. I have found that I feel a lot better when I do drink water, although you also have to pee a hell of a lot more. 

While it’s tiring at times and my limbs can ache the day after, it’s all worth it and I feel great. I weighed myself on the 4th March and I was 14st4lbs. I’m refusing to weigh myself again until April arrives, so fingers crossed that all this walking makes an impact.  

But even if I don’t lose as much weight as I hope I will, I’m still seeing the benefits in being generally fitter, more awake and more switched on during the day.  

Just try it. You don’t have to do 10,000 but set a target you think is achievable and go from there. You’ll start to make decisions with increasing your steps in mind. You’ll do things like taking the stairs instead of the lift or getting off the bus one stop early. All these little things add up. Before you know it, you’ll be hitting your target in no time.  

I’ll report the results on the 1st of April. Until then, I’ve got some more walking to do!