AS everywhere in Marbella, you’ve got to dress for the occasion and the beach is no exception.
While the ladies can effortlessly slip on a sarong and a straw hat, it’s a sartorial nightmare for 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 be sure that they’re not too big and that you don’t wear them too often.
Male jewellery 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 as well as car key and mobile phone.
And get your back waxed. If I want to watch King Kong I’ll get the DVD.
If you’re wealth-conscious and want to make sure everyone knows you’re loaded, even if you’re in shorts, go for the biggest, blingiest watch you can find. It will earn you immediate fawning attention from the beach staff and they won’t know you bought it from a ‘lookie-lookie’ man for €50.
The next thing to consider is what kind of beach? To the uninitiated it may seem like a simple strip of sand but on this coast it’s so much more than that. Which beach you hang out at is as important as which restaurant you eat at, which 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 west of Cabopino and Bolonia. Now, I don’t hold anything against naturists – no, let me rephrase that – I’ve got nothing against naturism. At certain times and places, nudity is perfectly 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 my basic level of fitness (the last time that I did the 100m in less than 20 seconds was when I fell down two 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 likely 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. They have to indulge in sports. A few years ago I found myself on the beach in Bolonia (which is unmarked by the way – I’d have warning signs, barbed wire and the occasional attack dog to fence it off), where I sat down to enjoy my picnic hamper. I was offering my girlfriend a Scotch egg when I followed her look of frozen horror towards an airborne appendage – a nude hippie flying a flexifoil kite! Just the sort of thing to put you off your Cumberland sausage, I can assure you.
As I packed the quickest beach retreat since Gallipoli, he was asking if anyone fancied a game of Frisbee…
Next week: Once more unto the beach…