What kind of beachgoer are you? Get ready for the return of the shadebathers, bodies in fine mahogany, supercharged nubile flirters and blatant naturists at a coast near you this summer.
We all do it. Wherever your chosen beach, from behind your sunglasses you find yourself ticking off species of beachgoers. It’s like a safari but the only zebra stripes or leopard spots to be found are on questionable swimwear.
There are, of course, the naturists with their dinglers dangling – why, you wonder, is it never the handsome ones who go au naturel? There are immaculately dressed French families with children who actually seem to like each other. Loud yacht kids who come ashore just to annoy the snoozers. Secretly we love them all. So that’s why we asked our writer, Mr Bound, a man who is half human, half sun-loving lizard, to give us his guide to the folk we secretly long to be among this summer. Danglers and all.
This cohort is all about maximising their time, so it’s up early to snare a spot of sand with the rough footprint of a Masai safari encampment. Why so? Well, Mum, Dad and the two children will each need a large-ish sun-reflective screen behind which to get changed before joining the master tent. Bi-hourly applications of a factor 90, sleeves and hats make for a fun-filled day that translates as chess in the shade.
You can spot them from the other end of the beach. Not because of the sun bouncing off boobs and bums as yet unkissed by sunshine but because they’re so damn active. When softball requires that much horizontal and lateral lunging you’d think some sewn-together support would be not just proper but a simple safety measure. It’s safety-first with the shades, hats and sandals, though: they’re all permanently affixed and at the “serviceable” end of fashion. Just not the clothes. Any clothes. Ever.
This handful of lads have turned the beach into their own personal Olympics – and everyone’s… if not invited, then inevitably involved. The football ends up spilling drinks and lunches, that frisbee’s veering dangerously close to the hawkish lifeguard and the vigorous water polo ensures there’s not a dry eye (or ’do) in the shallows. Of course, the beach is big enough for all but it’s more fun to plant your own San Siro in the middle of everyone’s loungers, right? Duh!
Fabio has been tanning, flexing and looking inscrutable on a certain stretch of the Amalfi Coast since time immemorial (roughly 1973, when his tiny Tanga-style trunks were last di rigore). Fabio’s routine is well-disciplined: two hours of sun, morning and afternoon; lunchtime is for perusing La Gazetta dello Sport, an espresso and a cigarette. Fabio knows two things to be the enemy of his physique: dolci and sitting down. Fabio is therefore almost literally a bronze.
What beach would be complete without a dozen teenagers falling in love for their first summer? There go the boys teasing the girls and the girls pretending not to notice. And there go the girls – swimming or doing a photoshoot while innocently licking ice creams. The boys, for once, don’t know where to look. Almost. Everyone, while faintly disapproving, is jealous, of course.
Ah, bliss! The hint of a cooling breeze to massage that warm Mediterranean sun all over you. Take a nap, why not? Mmmm… but hang on, what’s that? Is it..? Oh, man – other than some distant band, of which this lot are surely not members – who thinks it’s a good idea to bring their own hand drums down to the beach? And then believes they have the necessary pedagogic skills to show their friends how to bang them? Which they can’t because that thing they’re smoking isn’t a cigarette, right? This crew, that’s who. And all resplendent in tie-dye too.
François and Eloise are the children’s surf instructors and every man, woman and child has a crush on either or both of them. Gorgeous, tanned, toned, charming and carefree, they’ve been turning up here for a decade and appear to spend their winters cryogenically frozen, so kind has time been to their dimples and – lack of – wrinkles. Whether they have ever had to pay for their dinner is still unknown.