The meteorological pendulum having swung the other way, we are now embroiled (or possibly just broiled) in a heatwave. Temperatures in darkest Burgundy are forecast to reach 38°C over the weekend, which may prove something of a culture shock to the parents, newly arrived from Scotland’s tundra and desperate to embark on beating back the garden, which has got a tad out of hand having been left to its own devices since May.
The warmth has enticed the tourists out of their usual woodwork and into the mountains for the purpose of hurling themselves down hills at various speeds using assorted modes of transport. Unfortunately, most of them seem to have forgotten the suncream again, which means quite a few of them are frankly painful to look at.
Anyone who has worked in tourism or hospitality for more that 30 seconds will have twigged that people on holiday systematically leave their brains in a special container under the bed. Or possibly at the airport – you can’t leave your luggage anywhere for fear that it might suddenly explode and cause carnage at boarding gate 27, but there is clearly a huge left brain facility somewhere airside of WH Smith. Indeed, if I were aiming to write a book, the subject of Idiot Questions I Have Been Asked By People Who Should Know Better would easily stretch to a trilogy, and if I asked former tour op colleagues to contribute we could probably come up with something the size of the Encyclopaedia Britannica and still have enough for a sequel.
Now I’m not about to do the tabloid moral panic frenzy thing here and insist that anyone who hasn’t covered themselves in factor Overkill x 10² and donned a burqa before venturing beyond the doorstep should be sectioned for their own safety, but really I would suggest that if your skin is used to sea-level northern drizzle it’s hardly astonishing that you turn into a poulet rôti after an hour on the hill.
Most of the mountian bikers don’t have a problem, what with the full-face helmets and head to toe kevlar, but some of the walkers and most of the casual tourists make you want to call an ambulance. I am here to tell you that it is not normal to look like a lobster after half a day of your holiday. You have not ‘caught a bit of sun’ – you are frankly burnt. You should not be surprised if you die of rampaging melanoma later this afternoon, so don’t book a restaurant for dinner because it may not be worth it.
The problem is even worse in winter, when people assume that because it’s cold the sun isn’t there (I’m not sure where they think the light is coming from, but never mind). This results in some alarming sights, from ridiculous goggle marks which people throwing sickies for the sake of some short-break skiing will find it hard to explain, to full-face blisters needing immediate medical attention. Hint: you see how brown the rest of us are? Well, we’re all using factor 50+. Yes, even in this blizzard.