The Daily Telegraph - Travel


My wardrobe and other malfunctio­ns


Anthony Peregrine

As May matures, the Languedoc weather improves, the holiday season seems attainable – and my mind turns to suitable seasonal leisurewea­r, for I like to cut a dash. This does not, starting at the top, encompass the wearing of hats. Baseball caps look absurd, especially on men my age. As wrong as pith helmets on the Labour leadership. Meanwhile, straw hats, Panama or otherwise, announce either that you consider yourself a card, or are a failed minor novelist living in Morocco. Either way, they’re catastroph­ic.

I retain, anyway, a fine head of hair that protects from the sun, and has a wide cast of admirers. As regards the upper body, I am blessed in having, among the younger members of the family, elements employed by organisati­ons that furnish discreet and fashionabl­e polo shirts. I thus walk about in the sunshine, pledging unobtrusiv­e allegiance to a giant internet outfit, of which I understand little, or the Vins des Cévennes, of which I understand too much. It is a stroke of luck that no relation works in drainage or undertakin­g.

Nether-wear-wise, I shall need new trunks, the pair I bought in Tahiti some years ago having shrunk. (They first served on an atoll picnic with Tahitian ex-servicemen. These fellows were all built like Adonis; I was the long, white exclamatio­n mark at the front of the boat.) Anyway, they’ve shrunk. The press-stud springs open, which is unexpected in items designed for water. I shall economise by keeping for another year my selection of militaryle­ngth shorts, as worn at El Alamein. There is room in the pockets for grenades, and they scare the hell out of Germans. Most other nationalit­ies, too, if truth be told.

Continuing further down, I am a frequent admirer of other men’s summer shoes – cool, limited-strap sandals or even cooler yacht shoes. So I go to the shoe shop and request sandals like this or yacht shoes like that, and they say: “We don’t do them in size 12.” Then I go home and order from the internet and am thus equipped with sandals that look like surplus from the Punic wars, as worn by the elephants.

Underneath all this, though, is the key question: will my body be beach-ready? I’ve been doing my bit. I now rarely go beyond 14 units of alcohol of an evening, and recently had a brush with a lettuce. “Fanatic!” cried my daughter. “Stop trying. Your role is to stroll on to the beach, disrobe – and immediatel­y make everyone else feel good about their bodies.” So, physical imperfecti­ons as a public service? I can live with that. I haven’t got much b----- choice.

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