As happens all too often in my life, I have found myself in a nightmare situation.  I have switched one island for another and spent a fair few hours travelling to Cyprus, in search of sunshine and a tan.  The flight went smoothly, the taxi turned up, the hotel is great.  But instead of basking gloriously in the sun alongside the long-limbed beauties lined up by the pool, I am cringing at the bar downing my third alcoholic beverage of the day (it’s not lunchtime yet).  It’s my second day, and I can’t believe I’ve already let this happen.  I also can’t believe the lack of sympathy from my travel companion.

 

I try my best to adhere to the slip, slop, slap rules of sunbathing.  Yesterday morning, I slipped on a bikini – I know it’s meant to be a shirt/kaftan/burka but how on earth will you tan in one of those? – slopped on factor 30 from the neck down and 50 from the neck up, and slapped on a rather excellent straw hat and some sunglasses.  I settled down to read my book.  Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. Wildly different to the film, and very enjoyable.

Anyhoo, I reapplied both sunscreens regularly and popped into the shady pool bar to avoid the hotter lunchtime rays.  Shady in both senses, actually, since it was out of the hot sun and also full of dodgy Russians wearing big gold watches and startlingly bright short-sleeved shirts.  Having had my afternoon snooze, I went back to the hotel room where there was a full-length mirror.  My expectations weren’t unreasonable.  I wasn’t expecting Gisele or Megan Fox to stare back at me, I was just hoping for a less translucent version of my usual self.  Alas.  Shock horror and mortification don’t even come close to my reaction.  I had committed the schoolboy error of leaving a nice four-inch band under my…hum, not sure what word to put here…bust?…anyway, there, un-slopped and un-slipped.  And what’s more, I hadn’t slopped properly on my tummy, which created a rather artistic but undesirable effect.

“Shock horror and mortification don’t even come close to my reaction.  I had committed the schoolboy error of leaving a nice four-inch band under my…hum, not sure what word to put here…bust?”

 

I am by no means a sit-up devotee, preferring instead to spend half an hour each day watching crap TV and eating Kettle Chips than exercising.  As you can therefore imagine, I am a victim of Spare Tyre Syndrome whenever I am in any position other than lying completely flat, stretching my arms as far away from my toes as possible, and sucking in.  And so, when I had been reading about the breeding habits of salmon and the Yemen’s climatic variation, the tops of my stomach rolls, or peaks, if you will (I am just realising now that this is too much information to be sharing with people I don’t know) had been exposed to the sun, but there were parts of my middle which were in the folds and so remained untouched by the beams.

 

And now I was standing, aghast, a sweating mess with a striped midriff.  I slathered the angry red and pudgy white pattern with aftersun, willing it to magically turn into smooth, brown (toned) skin.  No luck.  The next morning it had not abated in the slightest.  So now I was perched on an awkwardly high stool by the pool bar, planning my next move, draining the last dregs of my drink.

 

“It’s fine,” I tell myself.  “No one’s going to care what you look like.  No one’s interested in your sunburn.  And it doesn’t matter anyway, they’re strangers! Who cares what they think? Well, me, clearly.  But I’m oversensitive like that.  Better to be oversensitive than thick-skinned…argh we’re back to skin…OK, here goes…” I ventured towards the bank of sunbeds.  And then walked around the swimming pool.  And then came back to the bar.  And ordered another drink.