Safer faking it than baking in the sun

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Sunday, Sunday. How blissful was that blazing day?

There’s nothing like sun for soothing the soul. Monday morning, workers went back to rock-breaking tinged pink inside and out.

Though everyone I know is now mourning the brevity of our heatwave and waxing lyrical about the summer of 76. I nod in agreement, yet I can’t actually remember the scorcher that lasted 24 days. I was 15; I was either in bed, in school or in a pub.

Plus, summers were always fabulous when I was young. Oh, the joy of being allowed to carry your little wooden chairs outside for lessons on the school lawn. How different these days; a rare burst of sun has schools scuttling their kids indoors for fear of sunstroke and sunburn and litigation. As for the school lawn, more than likely it got sold off years ago and is now a block of flats no-one’s got the money to buy.

In flaming June, I’d get home from school to find the kitchen door open and our plastic ribbon curtain moving ever so slightly in a whiff of a breeze. Does anyone have them any more, those strippy, slappy things? Pale blue and white, ours was when it was new. Age mellowed it to Cornish cream and duck egg.

Usually, there would be a glass and a bottle of something that was cheaper than Robinsons Barley on the drainer.

I knew exactly where my mother would be; in the back garden, soporific on a sun-lounger by the blackcurrant bushes, clad only in bikini bottoms. (She made my dad keep the privet high).

On sunny days, she’d whizz round her chores in the morning and spend the afternoon sunbathing under a marinade of Ambre Solaire, Jimmy Young her only companion.

Apart from the occasional rebasting with the red-brown oil I can still remember the smell of, still picture its shimmering droplets soaking into the bright blue canvas of the lounger, she would lie still as a statue. When she asked how our day had gone, it was through an un-moving mouth.

She’d have made a good ventriloquist. I think her theory was that, if she didn’t move so much as a cheek muscle, the sun’s rays would penetrate even deeper.

I don’t know how she stood it. She doesn’t now, either.

You grow out of sunbathing. You realise there are far too many things that won’t get done if you lie there on a lounger in the garden and too many things that won’t get seen if you’re on holiday.

Plus we all know now what my mum’s generation didn’t; that turning your skin the colour of a coffee table was bad for you.

For my generation, fake tan must go down as the best beauty invention ever. Just slap it on before bed, slap down the husband complaining you’re slippery as an eel and be prepared to smell like a biscuit all night. The next morning, you look just like your mother did after a week out to grass.

Though a tiny bit of me does fret that, one not very fine day, a scientist will announce that all the chemical-laden lotions we lathered on have penetrated to our livers and given us sclerosis.

And then what?