IT’S only March but already there’s a profusion of willies on the gay naturist beach at the bottom of our hill.
Behind the manmade wall of shingle, heaped there by bulldozers to protect the passing public from the sight of so many naked men, are lots and lots of naked men, glorying in the climate-changed hot spring and each other. You can see them — and their willies — from the top deck of the bus that goes along the seafront into town.
You’ve probably guessed by now that I am not writing this from an Irish seaside town. As far as I know you don’t get colonies of naked men on Irish beaches, stretched out in the sun like slimmed-down seals. Think of me as a foreign correspondent.
Anyway, the point I’m making is that it’s very hot for March. Hot enough for grown men to strip off and loll about naked in public, which doesn’t normally happen until around May — and these chaps are keener than most. They don’t mind a stiff breeze.
“I can’t believe those guys are naked,” says my new lodger, her eyes widening. She puts on another jumper, and wraps a shawl around her shoulders. My new lodger is not a prude, but has just arrived from Goa, where she has been living for many years. She does not want to be here, having been perfectly happy living in Goa, but the Indian visa rules changed and she was booted out.
The poor lodger, once a Londoner, shivers. Although Brighton – for it is here on Brighton beach that the willies are in full bloom – is unseasonably hot for this time of year, it is nothing compared with the high-thirties of a Goan spring.
The new lodger looks around in astonishment as local residents come romping out of their houses, blinking into the light, their acres of winter lard exposed in a bulge of spaghetti straps and ill-advised shorts.
In Goa, people do not seek out the midday sun, but spend time avoiding it; the idea of rushing out into it would be deemed insane. Unless of course you’re a tourist, sun-starved and desperate.
The new lodger and her five year old sit shivering in the bright March air. To warm themselves up, they elect to come on a dog walk with me; walking is a new concept for both of them, because in Goa — you’ve guessed it — it’s too hot for walking, so you go everywhere by scooter. Soon we are striding along open countryside overlooking the beach, the sun illuminating all the gorgeous spring blossom.
“Look!” I say in delight, pointing. “March violets!” The mother and son look, and look, and look. There they are, a few tiny purple flowers hiding by a bush. “Oh,” says the five year old. “I thought it was going to be something good.” We walk on. “Look, a pineapple!” he says, pointing at some drooping, flowerless daffodil stalks. His mother sighs and shivers.
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