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When package holidays began, all of a sudden we could
experience life at close quarters with people from other
nations. We thought the Germans were the most ridiculous
people on the beach.
As Monty Python pointed out years ago, they pinched
the sun beds and barged into the queues and frightened
the children. And if you weren’t at the buffet spot-on
seven, Fritz had wolfed all the sausages.
But with the advent of the Boeing 747 came the longhaul
holiday and we realised that the Germans were
country mice compared with the Americans. No shorts
were too large, no thong was too small.
What’s more, Hank does not like to sit on the beach
and read a book. He likes to shout and play volleyball.
When the Yanks are around, it’s like being on holiday in
a primary school playground.
For years the Americans were in a class of their own,
but then the Berlin Wall fell down and, as a result, from
the Indian Ocean through the Middle East and the Mediterranean
to the Caribbean, Boris and Katya were making
all the running.
In many ways the Russians are like the Americans.
They’re either far too fat or far too beautiful. There’s no
middle ground. And again, like Uncle Sam, no part of
the body is immune from man-made enhancement. The
Americans go for surf-white teeth; the Russians for alarming
special forces tattoos. And neither seems to see anything
wrong with breast enlargement. I saw one Russian
woman on the beach in Barbados the other day who had
the body of a walnut and a chest that put Antigua in the
However, where the Russians move into an easy lead
is beach attire. For the men it’s the traditional Speedo,
while the women seem to get their fashion pointers from
internet porn sites. I haven’t yet seen anyone strutting
down the beach in stockings and suspenders but it’s only
a matter of time.
Today, though, a new contender has come along and
blown the old favourites into the seaweed. The title of
Most Stupid People on the Beach has gone in 2004 . . .
We were designed to make Spitfires and Beagles. We’re
supposed to be in a shed, in gloves, inventing stuff. We
therefore do not look good on a beach. We’re piggy
white and if you expose us to the sun, we turn into
We’re designed for bracing walks along the front in
Scarborough and wet camping holidays in Scotland. But
our newly discovered wealth means we can now go to
the tropics. Because it’s new money, we really have no
idea what to do with it.