Nobby and I are hanging out the 15th load of washing following our return from holiday when Nobby pipes up with:
'You should treat yourself to a new bikini.'
'But I've got a perfectly good bikini,' says I. 'Has the washing machine chewed it up or something?'
'No,' says Nobby, 'but you can't wear the same bikini every day for two weeks.'
'But I just did wear the same bikini every day for two weeks.'
'Yes, and that's just a bit of feedback.'
Subtle. As a slap in the face with a wet fish. Thanks Nobby! But hey, I am still proud of myself for braving *the* bikini for the first time in almost ten years. I finally felt the world could handle my jelly belly and its about time I exposed it to some sunshine before it gets any whiter. Not that I can expect a man who turns chocolate brown the minute the sun comes out to understand my English Rose's view of the world. From day one on our holiday the first language anyone tried speaking to Nobby was Italian, convinced that no way could this dark haired, dark skinned Adonis be and Englishman. Pickle has the same complexion and is also brown as a berry now. Fortunate really when the merest glimpse of the Nivea Factor 50 bottle in my hand makes him run away screaming 'I don't want cream!!!' Poppet is pure peaches and cream like me, though, requiring a thick layer of Ambre Solaire just to walk from the hotel door to the car, and thankfully she doesn't mind slapping it on.
My normal tan lines stop three quarters of the way up my arms and legs from the shorts and t-shirt, with a nasty reddish bib round the neckline. So fetching in a strappy top. Not. But not this time. Besides, Croatia was so darned hot for the whole fortnight even a bikini was positively sweltering. And I actually don't have the worst jelly belly on the beach, you know. Seriously.
So confident was I that I blithely agreed to take part on the 'Miss Crystal Hotel' election during the first week. It didn't seem so bad - the 'Mr Crystal' election the night before had 12 blokes pretending to be Tarzan in a bid for the covetted title but I was assured that the ladies competition was 'much easier' by Kristina, the bubbly animator who roped me in.
So I duly turned up backstage at the designated time so they could take down my particulars and translate them into German, Croatian and Italian for the international audience, and I was met by a table-full of sixteen year girls and the question, 'Did you remember to bring your bikini?'
Yes, the reason that the ladies don't need to act like Tarzan is because there is a swim-suit round, a la Miss World. Not what I wanted to hear on the same day that I slipped and fell down on the rocks and sliced my knee. *I'm sporting the cut-off jeans for a reason here people*, and it's not because I don't have a mini-skirt because I do. So it seemed that I and a fellow Mummy were the token oldies in the group for entertainment value and you could tell by the introductions.
'Petra is sixteen years old and from Italy. She has two sisters and a fluffy kitten called Fluffy. She is studying and wants to be a vet when she grows up. In her spare time she likes swimming, horse-riding, shopping and going out with her friends.'
'Nobby's missus is 39 and from England, but lives in Hungary. She has a husband and two children and a dog called Tiggy. She works in a school and doesn't really know what she wants to be, even though she is all grown up. She likes reading and used to do jujitsu but really she has no spare time or hobbies and going out with friends requires 50 quids-worth of babysitting and taxis so she generally watches DVDs on the sofa with Nobby and a bottle and of wine instead.'
Things did not look good, although they picked up considerably when the animators brought out the free booze and only my fellow Mummy and I were old enough to drink it. We had a lovely natter over a bottle of Merlot about work and travel and child-rearing while the others compared lipstick and exam scores. Then we were paraded round the swimming pool and thrust up into the spotlight for the contest.
Round One was a 'Getting to Know You' round where we each pulled a number out of a hat which corresponded to something we had to perform. The first poor girl had to sing. The second had to mime a man getting up in the morning. It was pure Butlins really. I had to do a ballet. Yup. It could have been worse, Fellow Mummy was given a chair, a hat and Tom Jones blaring 'You Can Leave Your Hat On' and was told to do a caberet.
Next the Swimsuit Round and out came the flat, tanned tummies and belly-button rings while I dug out my one-piece and a long sarong to cover up the band-aids on my knee. While the others wiggled it the most I was prepared to do was show a bit of leg. And do you know what?
I won third prize!
So now when we play Monopoly and the Chance card says you've won a prize in a Beauty Contest I can say 'yes I have'. And the prize was an afternoon for two in the Wellness Centre Spa at the hotel and a bottle of wine, so Nobby got to reap the rewards as well, I think he was a little bit proud.
Although the Spa turned out to be of the mixed, naturist variety - I'll tell you more about that next time...
On the 5th Day of Advent...
11 hours ago