Thursday, 5 July 2012

Tanning Troubles of a Strawberry Blonde

It is a common myth that strawberry blondes don’t tan. We do, it is just sometimes imperceptible to the naked eye.

On Sunday I came back from Italy as the proud owner of a belly plump with pizza and some bikini-shaped tan lines. I was ecstatic.

Sadly my tan lines don’t so much showcase a summer glow as highlight how pale I was before. The difference between the sun-kissed parts of my body and the un-tanned marks stamped by my swimsuit is the difference in shade between normal person and cave-dweller.

The intensity of my tan (as I shall insist on calling it) greatly depends upon the lighting of my surroundings.

It makes me think about the importance of context.

Next to an iceberg I look very tanned indeed. Next to my sister (who spent 8 months in Australia and now looks in no way related to me) I look like one of those fish you find at the very bottom of the ocean.

Context is everything, as you will find out if you listen to the wonderful Tim Minchin’s song entitled ‘Cont’.

I went to school with a girl who was deeply in love with Tim Minchin. My feelings about him have always been ambivalent, as I knew I could never compete with her devotion to him. In Little Britain there is only One Gay in the Village; in my hometown there was only One Tim Minchin Fan.

One evening on holiday last week we watched a DVD of Minchin’s performance at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Heritage Orchestra and all that changed: I now love him too.

If you haven’t watched any of it, do. If you have, you will know that it is ridiculous and at times incredibly self-indulgent. But that is one of the reasons why I loved it.

Picture this: the entire Royal Albert Hall filled with people who have paid to watch one man stand on stage with the entire venue and a full orchestra at his disposal. He can do whatever he likes. Even sing a song about cheese.  

That in itself is something that I think should be congratulated. But despite all the silliness (and his weird dance that looks like a seaweed in a current), it is clear that he is incredibly intelligent. Amongst the weirdness there is poignancy – and I found myself shouting, “I agree!” at the crazy-haired image on the screen. I found it heartening to think that yes: you can be silly, and smart. And have crazy hair. 

Another reason why I love Tim Minchin is because he is a fellow strawberry blonde. He may be Australian, but I bet he doesn’t tan that much either.

Now that I think about it I don’t actually mind that I don’t tan. Because as Tim Minchin sings in a song called ‘Not Perfect’:

“This is my body
And it's fine
It's where I spend the vast majority of my time
It's not perfect, but it's mine.”

Maybe I'll leave the fake tan on the shelf after all.


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