66. Tanning

I hate reality TV.  I hate scripted reality TV even more.  Keeping up with the Kardashians, Jersey Shore, The Only Way is Essex, something to do with Chelsea, Geordie Shore, Big Brother.  It is all so dreadfully hateful that if I stumble across so much as one of the characters in any of these shows online, then my laptop is launched through the nearest window.  I go through quite a lot of laptops.

Fans of these shows generally stay out of my way for fear of me throwing them out of windows too.  However, when my rage it neutered by beer I have been known to answer the following the question: “Wot iz it bout it dat you ‘ate Maaaarty?”

So much.  I hate the attention seeking, the vanity and the cut-away to the studio when Kim is running us through a commentary about how her important business meeting is going.  Quiet you.  You know what is going to happen because you have already filmed it.  I hate how people think it is real.  I hate the pretentiousness, I hate the fact that no-nothings with an IQ of 6 have been rewarded for being stupid when those with high IQ’s and those that work hard to earn a decent living get little to nothing.  Stephen Hawking, David Attenborough, Paul Merton, these are all real role models.  But the thing I hate most of all however is the fake, luminous, terracotta-coloured tanning and the lifestyle and gobby attitude it seems to adopt.

“Oompa Loompa, do-ba-dee-doo,
I’ve got a perfect puzzle for you.
Oompa Loompa, do-ba-dee-dee,
If you are wise you’ll listen to me.
What do you look like if you frazzle all day?
No colour exists that’s all i can say.
What are you at getting terribly orange?
What do you think rhymes…with…orange?
I don’t like the look of it”

It is detestable and anyone who thinks that being the same colour as the jacket of the man who empties your bins is out of their tiny, knowledge starved minds.  I return to the Costa del Thames once a year, and each time I am quizzed by those around me why I am not burnt to a crisp.  Stranger’s who I try to impress by telling them that I live out here don’t believe me as my skin is as white as the head on their lager.

People believe that when you come to live in the UAE you automatically become brown or orange.  But, in most cases, you end up red, for a few days before it all starts to fall off and you end up all white again.  The first few months of living in the UAE is a novelty, particularly if you come from a miserable, grey little island like Britain.  But after a while the sun becomes a nuisance.  It is ultimately a big burning ball of fire that wants to hurt you.  To willingly be out in it all the time is uncomfortable and confusing.

What are the benefits?  What are the pros of having skin with the same texture as a handbag and the same colour as a Satsuma?  You don’t need much sun to top up on vitamin D, and as far as my in-depth research corroborates that is about the only medical benefit of sunlight.  Hey, there is nothing wrong with lounging by the pool browning yourself for an hour or so every day, it can be quite relaxing, but there are limits.  If you look like a fillet steak then you have gone too far.  Mix that with a horrible trashy accent and the inability to talk like a human being and you have a disaster on your hands.  They lose their sense of personality and become a clown.  It just – and pardon the pun – gets under my skin.

So with skin cancer foremost on my mind I try to spend most of my time trying to avoid the sun in the summer months.  When it’s 45 Celsius outside and getting hotter the last thing I want to do is go to a beach and lie underneath the fiery orb just for the pleasure of being told “oh my God, you’re like well tanned.”  I’m white, with occasional panda eyes, for comfort.  I don’t want skin with the texture of a peeled cow or the colour of a high visibility jacket.

I don’t have a problem with modest use of fake tan either.  If you are a woman – not a man – and you want to slap some canned tan on, no worries.  But remember that a little dab will do you.  If you empty the tin all over yourself and walk around with lumps of it dripping off then I’m afraid the rest of us aren’t going to want to talk to you.

Nine times out of ten the tanning club don’t annoy me, if it helps you feel better about yourself then I am all for it.  It’s nice to sit on the beach or by the pool, it’s ok to glob on a bit tinned tomato, but it’s the attitude that abuse of these activities breeds.  Have you ever seen an episode of Geordie Shore?  For reasons I won’t explain, I have.  White and pale, they’re bearable, the second one of them turns orange and that’s it.  Society has fallen.  They are obsessed with their skin colour and honestly believe that looking like an egg yoke attracts the opposite sex.  It doesn’t, believe me.

So a message to that 2% of people in the UAE who live by the sun, die by the sun: By all means carry on grilling yourself, but stop embarrassing us in front of our hosts and please, for your own safety, be quiet…  The rest of us are trying to think.

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