Tuesday 7 September 2010


I have had to leave the ironing and run back to the computer because I found I could neither rest nor iron smoothly until I had told you a crunch factor about my recent holiday. The fact is, I came back paler than I went. How is this possible? Well, the inner 40 year old took a look - accidently, I assure you - in a full-length mirror just as she stepped out of the bath a few days before the start of the holiday and didn't like what she saw. Instantly, two remedies sprang to mind. First, change the position of the mirror, second, get a fake tan. It takes much courage and a switch-off button to appear in a swimsuit at all at my chronological age. I would much prefer a nice Victorian bathing costume covering the pale, the wrinkled, the mis-shapen, but, on balance, grant that such an outfit may draw even more attention than the top of thigh to top of bosom cover-ups I currently use. The scarlet swimsuit helps; one can hardly look elsewhere. However, one can't wear that without interuption. A wet swimsuit, slowly drying on a damp, clammy body is not a good look, so I do have several, none of which is as distracting as number one scarlet. Anyway, there was my inspiration: a fake tan. I read the magazines, I follow the trends: no I don't, I read about them. Never mind how, what matters is that I knew such a thing exisited. I dressed hastily, rushed to the phone and dialled the local beauty salon which had once been owned by a friend of mine. The response was uber-normal. No-one flinched or gasped and an appointment was made for the last possible moment before I left so that I would get major benefit until the end of the holiday

Picture this: dressed in a close approximation to jeans, an old top and some bottom clothes, as one of my young used to call her knickers, with pop socks and slip on shoes, I duly presented myself at the salon which still bears the name of my friend. Just as well I was not more comprehensively dressed. I was shown in to a cubicle containing a stained hand basin and half a conical pipe. A towel that had seen better days was placed on the base of this cone, there was a hook on the wall by the door and that was it. If you are more than 65, or have back problems you may have had some experience of taking footwear off standing up. You, or anyway I, can't do it. Dilemma: go back out and sit down in Reception, which would mean replacing the above garments, or struggle on, leaning on the door at risk of falling down with every manoeuvre. (Now I come to think of it, that wouldn't have been a problem; there wasn't room to fall). Finally, when the choice was take them off or have them tanned, too, I did manage to strip everything, including footwear. The young beautician, who had banged on the door several times already, finally forced herself in and proffered a paper thong on the clear assumption that I was not preparing myself to sunbathe in the all together. I wasn't. I queried the suspect towel, which was duly, and with a snort, turned over displaying another seedy side, and, with the sang -froid of one about to enter a no-escape clause, I submitted myself to a chocolate all-over spray. Not quite all over, of course: there was the thong. In a day-long couple of minutes it was over, but not before I had turned round for my back to be done and seen a gaping crack in the half-capsule which did not a lot for the feeling of 'what about hygiene' I had had from the moment the door opened. Thereafter, a cold fan was turned on and I was told to stand still for five minutes. Two seconds later, Miss came back and switched it off. I knew I was nowhere near dry but the need to get out of there took over my entire mind and body and I rushed back in to my clothes as if at the scene of a fire. Well, rushed as well as a non-bendy person could in a confined space with no stool. I retained enough presence of mind to take my footwear out in to Reception to sit there to re-shod, trailing smudges of chocolate foot-prints and incurring the sort of vibrations you would expect on a crowded Underground train when you take the last seat.

Later that day, I noticed that I looked like Blackpool Rock - a sticky stick of peppermint flavoured toffee with the name of a town printed through it, should you happen to be outside the UK - which is usually made of two intertwining colours, in my case beige and chocolate brown. I had dried streaky and that's how it remained. My friend, the former owner of the salon with her name still over the door, would have been mortified. No treatment prevailed. I scrubbed and scrubbed, behind elbows, behind knees. All my moles and freckles and other blemishes were dyed black/ brown and more blemishes had appeared. I had thrown out a pair of bottom clothes and some pop socks and had the telephone in my hand - black so as not to stain a white one - to tell the Guru we weren't going anywhere when it occurred to me this was pure vanity and I must just count on the endemic invisibilty of the old. Over the next few days, at home and abroad, I continued to scrub, to leave brown marks on hotel towels and to curse the beautition. It did wear off, eventually, to be replaced by the sort of light creme brulee I usually turn and that's how it is that I have come home lighter than when I left. See you soon, but not quite this soon.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is hilarious!