Strathclyde Telegraph

From Buckfast to Bordeaux Column 2

Just back from a trip to the beach and the only thing that is burnt is the image of old-lady tits on the inside of my eyelids.

So, what’s got into these wild old French Dames that they think it’s ok to ruin the perfectly nice view of Arcachon Plage with their leather fun bags? When you are months from death (I assume they must be riddled with melanoma), is an all-over tan really necessary?

Curious about seeing nudity in public, when I returned home I did what any girl would do, I asked my mum, “Mum, why are you old folk always getting your tits out at the beach?”

“Well,” she replied, “we were all around for the ‘summer of love’. It was all connected to the liberation thing, the fight for equality. The first time I went topless-” (whit?) “was in the 70s in Greece but I got my boobies burnt, even in Scotland they get a bit pink, poor things…”

Ignoring the absolute bombshell there, I see her point.

I was astounded to realise that, in actual fact, the bra-burning women of the 60s and 70s are our mums and grandmas now! The women who decided bras were for chumps and realised that they could open doors on their own are the same generation of women that get angry if you forget to scan their Clubcard when you get petrol and question your choice of tattoo! Bizarre eh?!

Perhaps these topless old women with their brown, leathery breasts, fluttering in the wind at Arcachon, are flying the flags of liberation, of their heyday?

I must stop here for a second to give some advice – the sun is very dangerous! Getting burnt isn’t only a pain for the rest of your holiday; it also doubles your risk of skin cancer. It’s really important to use at least a factor 15 sunblock and reapply every few hours. Otherwise you will die. No, maybe not but your skin will be disgusting. Like proper rank.

Anyway, the reason we left the beach all too aware of the horrendous impact age and sunbathing can do to your tits is because the youth of France are actually a bunch of prudes and therefore we only had the rubbery and wrinkled option for our beach time observation.

I asked ten French girls between 20 and 24 years old for their opinions on going topless and the general response was that although it was fine if others wanted to do it, they wouldn’t. Charline, 24, was the exception who said she has went topless before, but only on holiday, as she wouldn’t like to run into someone she knew.

Another two, Mélanie, 22, and Marina, 24, seemed interested in the idea but, in my opinion, there were too many conditions for me to take their answers as affirmative. Things like it being in their own garden, with no chance of a neighbour seeing and with no children around. If absolutely no one sees you sunbathe topless, do your boobs even get a tan?

I thought for a while that there was a small chance that if we had all decided, “Right, let’s do it. Let’s whip these midge-bite excuses for breasts out and show grandma over there that she doesn’t own this strip,” that we could win. She would redress defeated. But I doubt it. I think Grandma’s a tough cookie and would think nothing of our childish mind games, or breast games if you will, and would laugh heartily at our little white triangles of supposed bosom.

So what I’ve learnt: the chance of a group of young French girls making this kind of bold statement of liberty is a mere fantasy as the popularity of topless sunbathing amongst the young and the beautiful in France has gone. It is indeed a very sad day but I do believe it maintains its popularity on other European shores so chin up perverts! There’s hope for us yet.

By Claire Alexander (columnist 11/12)