Beach bum Giles Brown explains the male beach nightmare and warns us off naturist beaches, saltwater enemas and taking to the sands on a Sunday.
IT is one of life’s trickiest conundrums: what to wear on the beach . While the ladies can effortlessly slip on a sarong and a straw hat, the beach is a sartorial nightmare for us chaps.
Savile Row has yet to come up with bespoke bathing gear, so here are a few pointers. Certain items of clothing on the beach are verboten.
These include football shirts, shorts with your national flag on them and male thongs, I don’t care if the latter are the latest from D&G, they’re the work of Satan and I’ll have to call the fashion police.
Sunglasses are another tricky issue – just make sure they’re not too big and that you don’t wear them too often, unless you fancy the ‘Rocky Raccoon’ look.
Male jewelry also has to be considered. A simple chain or ethnic necklace from Bali is fine, but you want to avoid the “Triana” effect, with half of Fort Knox nestling on your hairy chest.
If you’re wealth conscious and want to make sure that everybody knows that you’re loaded, even if you’re in your shorts, go for the biggest, blingest watch you can find. It will earn you immediate fawning attention from the beach staff, and they won’t know that you bought it from a ‘lookie – lookie’ man for €50.
The next thing to consider is what kind of beach it is that you want.
Which beach you hang out at is as important as which restaurant you eat at, car you drive and what designer label you’re wearing.
So let me start with the Giles Brown beach rule number one – avoid the beaches immediately west of Cabopino and Bolonia.
Now, I don’t hold anything against naturists – no, let me rephrase that – I haven’t got anything against it.
At certain times and places nudity is acceptable (streakers at rugby internationals, Test matches and any female in the crowd when Brazil are playing, for example). But if you are over the age of 30 and have the basic level of fitness as myself (the last time that I did the 100m in less than 20 seconds was when I fell down a flights of stairs after the Ashes) then it’s just not pretty.
And while it’s every teenage boy’s dream to end up on a nudist beach, the harsh reality of life is that you’re more lightly to be surrounded by German grandmothers than the supporting cast of Baywatch.
The other problem with nudists is that they can’t just sit there quietly tanning their bits, but have to indulge in sports.
I found myself on the beach in Bolonia, on the Costa de la Luz (which is unmarked by the way). I sat down to enjoy my picnic hamper. I was offering my girlfriend a Scotch egg when I noticed her look of frozen horror and turned to be face to … appendage with a nude hippie flying a flexifoil kite.
“Always avoid doing anything energetic on the beach. Dancing is certainly out.”
Just the sort of thing to put you off your Cumberland, I can assure you.
To plagiarise the estate agents’ mantra, the successful day at the beach is all a question of location, location, location.
You can either choose to base and baste yourself at a beach club or on the sand itself. Which is where we come onto beach rule number two.
When you find that pristine stretch of sand check which day of the week it is. If it’s Sunday, pack up and go home. If you don’t, within an hour of rolling out your beach mat, you’ll glance up to find yourself surrounded by what looks like the encampment of Attila’s hordes, but is, in fact, 20 Spanish families enjoying their Sunday.
An afternoon with Attila would be preferable. As well as the ice boxes, picnic tables, beach umbrellas, folding chairs and emergency kit for the baby, Spanish families love to set up camp 100m from their Seats and then fling open the doors so they can enjoy the music from the car stereo.
If you find an empty spot on the beach and it’s not a Sunday, stay away as well, because five minutes after you flop out on the beach towel, a gang of mulleted morons on quad bikes are bound to come over the horizon and start tearing up the sand.
Assuming you stay in the relative safety of the beach bar, your next task is to decide what kind you want. You can plump for the luxurious beaches such as Nikki Beach, Ocean Club or Buddha Beach, which are all full of beautiful people doing beautiful things to each other. But the entry fee of 20 euros at some – and the 70-year-old George Hamilton lookalike entertaining the eastern European teenager – can be off-putting.
Rule number three is always avoid doing anything energetic on the beach. Dancing is certainly out, and can be directly linked to the number of drinks consumed.
And the big no-no is watersports. I’m still recovering from a beach club’s press lunch last year, when I foolishly accepted an invitation to go on the Flyfish, which I subsequently deduced was the invention of a deranged aquatic sadist.
If I’d wanted a saltwater enema I’d have booked myself a session at a Thalasso spa. Rather than be dragged behind a speedboat, far better to stand at the bar watching the action.
Follow these golden rules and you’ll be sure to enjoy a fabulous summer on the beach. I’ll be the one with the Mojito and surf shorts by the bar…