Released On 13th Aug 2019
Freddy's blog: Sunscreen
Ladies and gentlemen of the class of ‘19 - that’s the preschool class - if I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it.
We’re in the south of France, where a certain type of English person holidays, only we haven’t seen them because everyone here is French. They’re taking August off for constant 34 degree heat and blue skies. And they are tanned. The older ones have the patina of a well-worn pair of leather shoes or a vintage armchair. The younger ones are like nuts.
For me, very fair-skinned, I have a serious tan and I’m still the whitest person here. With the freckliest arms. It looks like our baby has the skin of her mother - who gets an impressive colour in seconds. The older daughter is slightly more like me, but beautiful, and her light tan and freckles make her look grown up.
It’s our first summer holiday in the school holidays. A new era. More traffic. More heat.
The sun gets to your head. The older one cries and says “I just can’t wait to be a grown up” when we tell her off for relatively frequent obstinate or rude behaviour. As though being a grown up means you can behave however you like. She’s 4. I’m pleased to be spending 2 weeks away from people who think being a grown up means you can behave however you like.
The sun gets to your body. Or it got to the steak tartare I ordered the other day (just after the baby threw a glass into the void beneath a terrace built against a rock - drawing a scowl from a French mother already full of rage on the next table). Gutsy move in the heat. Guts moved. And I spent the next day in bed and bathroom.
There is no shade here. Most of our visits to the plage de centre ville are to sit along the wall and eat croissants as the shoes and nuts are setting up for the day. Or we go to the other beach, the wild one, with the wild buggy-push/pull down.
We are a little too tight to buy an umbrella. And what would it do?
So we keep the girls out of the sun by staying on the balcony, or colouring and sleeping inside during the hottest part of the day. We seek out Mediterranean gardens and boat rides. A drive to St Tropez ends in disaster when we cannot park and have to go somewhere else (the place with the steak tartare).
We are in the flat of my wife’s late grandma, recently passed, this little family moment made more intense for my wife by the memories around us. At night my mind turns to the future, 10-15 years from now when the girls are grown and we might enjoy more of the nightly concerts in the town if we can all fit in this little flat, and how tanned will they be and how beautiful.
But I want sunscreen. I want to coat this time in factor 50 so it never takes on the patina of memory, never grows up, never ages.
I always cry when I go back to work after a holiday.
Freddy works in marketing for an association in the City and is the proud father of two very clever, determined and funny little girls.