When I was 16 I travelled down to Newquay with my cousin in his white Vauxhall Nova, on our first holiday without our parents – we had a great time.
On our last two days we elected to hire a wetsuit each, and one of those pretend surfboards. Boogieboards? Bodyboards? A close encounter with a strong current and some rocks didn’t deter us and on our final day we donned our second skins and headed down to the shore to pretend we were ace.
After only a couple of minutes though, I felt a sharp pain in my heel. I thought I’d stood on a broken bottle or sea shell, but it hurt a lot more than that. I tried to soldier on but eventually I had to seek help.
I headed towards a perma-tanned chap sitting atop a really massive high chair. I think he was a lifeguard. He seemed amused by my plight. If I was Joe Pesci, around about now I’d have broken into a Goodfellas-style “Am I a clown? Do I amuse you?” rant before shooting him in the foot. But I wasn’t Joe Pesci. I was an awkwardly shy 16 year old Northerner and the only messed up foot belong to me. I was nearly crying.
After brief deliberation, the lifeguard confirmed I had been stung by a weaver fish. No, I’d never heard of one either. “You know why it stung you though, yeah?” he asked.
“Well, no” I answered, not being an expert in the behaviour of proper snide fish that hide just under the sand and stab you with poison. He chuckled for a moment before confirming “It’s because you’re wearing your wetsuit the wrong way round”
And I was. I had been for several days. And this odd fish obviously took offence. A tidal wave of embarrassment washed over me. What a wally. We had attracted quite a few looks of what we thought were admiration from onlookers, but it was more amusement. And there I was, backward wetsuit welded to my body, swollen foot, clinging to a quad bike taking me to the first aid hut. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to remove a wet suit in such circumstances? Not the best.
These days, I avoid pretend surfboards, wetsuits and of course weaverfish. The only weaver I want anywhere near my plates of meat is made by Clarks.
I’m a bit older, marginally wiser and as such the days of sartorial embarrassment on the beach are hopefully behind me. In an attempt to put that horrible episode behind me – I’ve thrown together an example of more suitable beachwear for this summer.
Just make sure you wear it all the right way around.
T-shirt wise, this Jacquard Henley by Burkman Brothers has a hint of Jim Morrison and screams “Look at me, look at me, I’m on the beach.” Choosing the most suitable shorts wasn’t easy but we eventually arrived at these from Birdwell. Timeless beachwear, ideal for dipping in and out of the sea.
The issue of footwear on the beach in a contentious one. If you’ve got asbestos feet you’ll probably choose to go shoeless, padding along the piping hot sand like you don’t give one. But not all of us are quite so macho and as such we need to protect our feet from turning into fried eggs. With a name like ‘Borstal Mesh’, these shoes from Generic Surplus sound more akin to prison issue footwear. But the reality is they’re designed for anything but that grim setting. They’re ideal for the beach – breathable and lightweight but sturdy enough for a promenade stroll too.
You’ll also be needing a bag. Well, look no further than this effort from Jansport. Perfect.
That bag we mentioned isn’t just for show though. A lazy day at the beach isn’t complete without some appropriate reading material. We’ve gone for the latest issues of Rouleur, Proper and Men’s File.
You’ll be needing to protect your peepers too, and while we’ve got a nice selection of specs up to that job, we’ve gone for the Timeless model from Han.
And finally, we know there are those amongst you who are either fair-haired or perhaps not in possession of the thatch they once had. That’s why we’ve thrown in a Grevi hat for you to stay a-head.