Sarah Britten
Sarah Britten

You will look like biltong when you are 60

Braaivleis, cricket, sunny skies and cabriolets. Ah yes, Joburg does summer well. So does Cape Town (even if they don’t have our fantastically amazing thunderstorms, the ones we tweet about obsessively). In fact, the whole of South Africa is pretty generous when it comes to drenching us in sunshine. Naturally, we take advantage of this. We prostrate ourselves before its beneficent rays. We spend all day in the pool. We take the tops down on our cars.

I find all of this quite remarkable. Hello, people? Are you wearing sunblock? How about a hat? Do women — specifically the melanin disadvantaged — who drive around in topless cars not realise that they will look like biltong at 60? And there will be nothing their plastic surgeons can do about it?

These are probably the same people who plonk down a grand for a little jar of La Mer. That Miracle Broth won’t do you any good if you’ve fried yourself to a crisp.

I would never dream of riding around in a cabriolet with the top down. I am so pale that I luminesce in the full moon. You can see the corpuscles flowing through my veins if you look closely at my shins. I last tanned intentionally when I was 17. and I never go out without a hat and sunblock, if I can help it. For all its other crimes against popular culture, Twilight made pale and interesting fashionable, and made it very slightly less socially challenging to be pale and interesting oneself.

So I don’t understand this cavalier attitude to sun damage. It’s even worse if the top-down crowd also smoke cigarettes. They’ll look like biltong when they’re 50, although quite a lot of them get a head start and bear a disconcerting resemblance to a packet of Takis droewors by the time they’re 40. You can always tell a woman has spent too much time in the sun by looking at her chest: her skin develops that weird clotted look, rather like mixing vinegar very thoroughly with pouring cream.

I saw a classic example at the Throbbing Strawberry in Douglasdale a couple of weeks ago. (Anywhere north of the shooter curtain is a good place to see the biltong crowd in their appalling-yet-fascinating crepey glory.) This one not only had the biltong look and a Dunhill between her fingers, she was braless and her boobs were halfway to the floor. Her skin was that curious shade of burnt umber that betrays a tanning salon with a heavy hand. If I’d been thinking on my feet, I’d have tried to sneak a shot for Paleisthenewtan.com.

So, my fellow blondes (and brunettes, and redheads): don’t ride around in cabriolets with the top down. Really. Who wants to look like biltong at any age?

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