Be it French gite, Cornish beach-house or Spanish all-inclusive, all roads ultimately lead to the swimming pool – and it is to this viper's nest that you must go armed and battle-ready.
For there is no harsher and more laser-like place of scrutiny than the hotel pool. Here your parenting skills, cellulite, breast pertness, choice of book and/or husband will be ruthlessly weighed up. Your underarms will be silently scanned by lowered eyes hoping for batwings, your caesarean scar will throb under the scrutiny of a 20-something’s gaze, your marriage will be written off by the newlyweds who delude themselves that they’ll never turn into you nor spend a dark eternity of Sundays arguing in Ikea while wearing leisurewear.
So, tear your gaze from the beckoning waters of your hotel pool and take note of my exclusive guide to poolside etiquette. Flout it at your peril.
How to bare all
When is it okay to sunbathe topless? There are crucial subtleties to boob etiquette, which are well worth knowing. Top off while lying on your stomach, boobs pressed flat into sun-lounger? No problem at all. But do not be tempted to raise yourself onto your elbows to check if your children are drowning. All boobs will look saggy and droopy in this position. On no account get into doggy position to apply suntan lotion.
Lying on your back: excellent position, giving impression of pert boobs and flat stomach. Do not sit up, as this image will be immediately dispelled.
Do not allow your husband to fondly squeeze a breast or wistfully finger a nipple. Do not attempt to engage in conversation with fellow holidaymakers, who will feel obliged to stare manically at your forehead. This is not a suitable position for the new mother at high risk of spontaneous lactation.
Boobs out swimming in the pool: never acceptable.
Children: yours and theirs
Do not allow your children to defecate in the pool. Overcome your environmental opposition to swim nappies and use them. Organic hessian sacking will not isolate a turd.
If other people’s children defecate in the pool, identify it loudly and call for the culprit’s legal guardians to reveal themselves.
Weeing in the pool is fine.
If other people’s children dive-bomb onto your head, claim whiplash and appoint a no–win-no-fee lawyer immediately.
If your children dive-bomb onto other peoples’ heads, look away as if engrossed in another task – even if it means allowing your husband to wistfully finger your nipple.
Thong bikinis: Under 21. Under 8 stone.
Cut-out swimsuits/swimsuits with chains/metal/choker features: Only if your job involves a pole (except firefighters.)
Cellulite: Swim at dusk or in medium to heavy fog.
Mum-tum: Approach people backwards.
Thunder thighs: Approach people sideways.
All of the above: Do not approach people.
Public displays of affection
Any aquatic sexual act is unacceptable. On my last holiday, there was a woman known as 21-from-behind (amazing bum, but front of the house needed an extensive paint-job).
She: childless, carefree and wafting in white linen; he: coiffed and beaming, casually buying "Important Art" on his phone while children defecated around him.
Together in the pool 21-from-behind and he would snog and cavort, oblivious to everything, laughing at their childless good fortune and lack of cellulite.
No one wants to see such a blatant display of happiness. Send your child to dive-bomb these people’s heads immediately. Spill banana and butternut puree onto her white linen thong bikini. Spike his Martini with Calpol.
Do not look at your husband in his dubiously stained shorts, morosely eating your child’s chicken nuggets, and judge him. You will never wear white linen, laugh for no reason and forget where you are. Unless you’re in a care home.
You are not in your bedroom or on the loo. The book you pick to read poolside shall come under forensic scrutiny and your entire character will be defined by your choice.
Unwise choices include:
Lindsay Lohan: Strong is the new beautiful
Why Cats Paint: A theory of feline aesthetics
Everything I know about women I learned from a tractor
Microwaving for one
The Christian’s guide to the sexual marketplace
Wise choices include: anything you don’t understand.
So, future holiday-makers, gather your swim nappies and gather in your stomach. Shoulders back, boobs out – that’s it, now you’re ready to head (sideways) into the pool.
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