Feeling like a dumpling and being used to the site of stick thin French women of all ages with nary an ounce of untoned flesh,I wasn't keen on the idea of exposing my ample flesh to the world and was pretty certain, although the terms pretty and bikini in my case do not marry well, that if I dared to my don a two piece I would very probably be contravening some EEC bylaw .Thus depressed by the vision of myself be sporting white Michelin man rolls of rolling flab to the world I invested in a sensible but chic item of swimwear in a tasteful chocolate brown with a cream trim and sporting a discreet skirt. It is very French and looks great on the model.
Alas having arrived at the beach in Italy I soon discovered that it is probably the biggest fashion error of the century. For here, amongst the cicadas and Oleanders, I discovered that the Adriatic coast is populated with brazen and badly upholstered women of advancing years all of whom regardless of shape, size and assorted wrinkles, wore bikinis in various styles and skimpiness and all wrapped around below their ample girths, a flimsy gossamer scrap bedecked with sequins, as if to emphasize rather than disguise their trembling thighs. I felt, and no doubt looked, like Nanny Ogg (if you do not know you Nanny Ogg is shame on you and go away and read some Terry Pratchett immediately!).
Greek beaches are equally populated with in your face matriarchs and although their flesh is browner the sagging and ungainly bits are just as obvious and unabashedly shown. Women here are women and proud of it. It seems in this heat covering up is not an option, The message here is this...A woman's body is a good thing and if you got it flaunt it no matter if the elastic has gone and it needs a good iron. I now look like a dowager duchess and am seriously considering one of the tents into an item of swimwear more attractive than my current costume. I would go to the shops and search out something but am yet to master the Greek for " Excuse me Madame, do you stock a jauntily cut barrage balloon with matching wrap in my size please?” It is interesting to see here women breast feeding discreetly a large toddler. In France breasts are definitely for sex and men's enjoyment and not for feeding babies, the bottle rules. Here it seems common sense prevails which may be why there seem to be so many happy bouncing toddlers about. This leads one to wonder if French mens obsession with boobs may come from not being breastfed and if they had been they perhaps wouldn’t be quite so oversexed. Now there is a subject for a thesis!
Onwards and upwards across Europe then, my brown barage ballon draping itself wet and ungainly about my legs as I emerge form the sea less like Venus more like the Kraken I look forward to Istanbul where at least I can be reassurred that I will not be expected to display my naked body parts to the world as I am realiably informed that anythign above the knee should be firmly covered up, and if worst comes to worst I can easily purchase an all enveloping garment in slimming black that will cover me from head to toe.. . well thank Allah and the muslim dress code for small mercies say I!
Of course we have to get to Turkey first and that is another story..