Stay cool with Frankie Flamingo
Meet Frankie Flamingo, such a star of my Instagram world this summer that he may just need to open his own account. Blow-up pool and beach toys are all the rage, which anyone who’s set foot near sea and sand in recent months can’t have failed to observe.
It is all very retro, this return of the lilo and its groovy pineapple-shaped variations, and the advent of blow-up fruit and birdlife of all sorts, from slices of watermelon to swans and toucans.
Frankie Flamingo earns his keep by circulating our pool in an orderly fashion with drinks aboard, pausing when swimmers take a plastic cup to enjoy a slurp (of a matcha smoothie, in this case). In concert with the pool toy revival has been a veritable explosion of striped straws with snap-on tops (again, pineapples and flamingoes reign) and swizzle sticks shaped as palm trees, mermaids and leaping dolphins. So all those summer cocktails have been looking jollier than ever. Add a tiny paper parasol for effect, a few maraschino cherries (yes, back in fashion too) and good luck getting close to actually sipping the drink without injury to nose, eye or ear.
But it’s not all Campari and beach skittles. A T & I colleague reports the lamentable demise of a blow-up swan in her pool over Christmas and none of us dares tell the Queen. Said colleague has apprehended the small, overenthusiastic culprits, who have been well-known to her since birth. And at my local beach on Boxing Day, the tide whipped up and a giant inflatable unicorn was spied in the surf with two youngsters aboard, bobbing merrily as their mother ran along the shore, cursing as she went.
I helped her hold the safety rope looped about the unicorn’s neck and asked if perhaps the toy had turned out to be somewhat larger than she had imagined. She sighed that the box had seemed of average size, her husband had used a bicycle pump and borrowed a trailer to haul it to the beach.
I asked her how she was going to get it home. “Burial at sea,” she muttered as her blissfully unaware children bounced like tiny cowboys, holding tight to a rainbowcoloured mane.