Summer is, without doubt, my favourite season. Of all of the words I would usually use to describe this beloved time of year, ‘rude’ generally isn’t one of them. But this year summer left without saying goodbye and in my opinion, that is beyond rude. It was as if I'd invited summer to my party, it arrived early, drank all the Rosé, ate all the wasabi peas, flirted like crazy, fell over on the dance floor, and then sneaked out. Summer then texted autumn and told it all about the great party that was going on and autumn took the liberty of gatecrashing when it was most definitely not invited. Too metaphorical? But you get what I mean? Have you ever known a Summer end so quickly? One day I was getting a bikini wax and the next I was digging out my Ugg boots.
I think I am so upset with Summer because I am at my happiest on the beach, it is officially my happy place. As luck would have it, Hove beach is at the bottom of my road. I have my preferred spot, a little patch of shingle beneath the wall, opposite beach hut #35. I have been known to get a bit miffed should someone pitch themselves there ahead of me, I’m a creature of habit.
This summer I shared my happy place with a lively bunch of Brazilians. Every Sunday they would accumulate en masse and fire up a BBQ. Not exactly Ipanema beach, but hey, Hove beach still has its charm. The Brazilians just ate meat. There were no bags of salad, tubs of coleslaw or baguettes, they just ate meat. They didn’t bother with cutlery or plates, the searing hot flesh went straight from the BBQ into their mouths. A few disapproving looks from myself and the other bathers were thrown their way. The amount of smoke and noise they were generating was however soon forgotten, as we were quickly seduced by the unctuous smells and the summer soundtrack. Their party vibe was infectious, they were proof that you can take the boys out of Brazil but you can’t take Brazil out of the boys. No doubt they will sensibly migrate for the winter, but hopefully they will find their way back next summer, to sizzle up Hove's Sundays once again.
I love being on the beach for many reasons, I can waste many hours just looking out to sea and pondering, snoozing and reading. But I think the real reason I love the beach so much is that I'm at my most comfortable barefoot and in a bikini. I hate covering up, not because I'm an exhibitionist, I just love the freedom of wearing as little as is decently possible. Albeit, Brighton has a nudist beach it has never appealed to me to strip off in my hometown for a number of obvious reasons. I have, however, happily stripped off on nudist beaches in warmer climes.
They are a curious place, nudist beaches. Everyone seemingly totally relaxed and happy in their own skin, but at the same time, you know that behind the sunglasses - the only acceptable item of clothing - everyone is checking each other out. It may not be the done thing, but it’s human nature is it not? I remember one such beach in Ibiza which was a hive of sporting activity and as such presented me with a burning question for the gents amongst you. If you are stark naked on a sandy beach and decide to stand up and play frisbee why bother putting your socks and sandals on? You’ve got it all on show, yet rather than put your swimmers on (for support?), you choose to cover up your feet? Socks but not pants? WHY??! Answers on the back of a postcard.
My ambivalence to nudity definitely stems from my childhood. Family nudity was never an issue when I was growing up. My Catholic mother was SO strict about so many things, I won’t even start to list them, but walking around stark naked at home was more than acceptable. My mother also had a very liberal attitude to swearing, which again seems very odd, considering I wasn’t allowed to watch Grange Hill or listen to The Smiths. The rationale behind it is quite baffling.
If only she had loosened up enough to allow me to indulge in some of the teenage pleasures I so craved, I might have some better life skills under my belt. But maybe she thought that giving me the confidence to swear whilst walking around naked would be enough to bag me a good Catholic boy. Thankfully not, who wants a good Catholic boy?
As I write this, I feel a tad hypocritical and a little bit mean about casting aspersions on summer as it would appear we are now experiencing a heatwave. But as luck would have it, it has just started to rain heavily. Thankfully I am now totally justified in being so judgemental about summer’s tardy behaviour. I can also justify to myself the time spent this afternoon writing this instead of heading down the beach with a kilo of meat, and not much else, to hang out with The Brazilians.