I don’t know the finer points of the upcoming EU referendum but following a holiday in Majorca last week, I have observed one major difference between us and the continent that I believe is worth pointing out.
It is this – attire on the beach, or, more accurately, the lack of it.
We’re all adults, so let’s get to the nitty-gritty of what I’m talking about here, women who sunbathe sans top.
Now the English don’t do topless sunbathing.
It must be something to do with our uptight, prudish ways or the fact that, as a nation, we get embarrassed very easily.
Europeans, on the other hand, have a different outlook on life.
They enjoy three-hour lunch breaks, shutting up their shops and nipping off for an afternoon nap or a long, lazy lunch with a glass of red wine.
So maybe that’s why they have no concerns whatsoever about letting it all hang out on a beach, something we discovered the day after we arrived in Majorca (an extravagant holiday, I know, but the B&B we usually go to in Knott End was booked up).
We packed our towels and swimming gear and headed to the closest stretch of sand.
‘I know you were looking,’ said Mrs Canavan as we walked past one lady, ‘you almost bent your neck backwards to get a better view.’
The most comical moment came a few moments later when, in true British style, Mrs C wrapped herself in a towel and very carefully began an attempt to wriggle out of her clothes and into her swimsuit – while right in front of us a Spanish lady sat starkers, aside from a pair of bikini bottoms.
I do find it remarkable that women on the Continent seem to have no problem going topless.
Maybe Barbara Windsor and the Carry On films are to blame for why we view bosoms in a different, more schoolboy way, whereas in Europe they’re considered a part of the body as innocent and uninteresting as the ankle or elbow.
Whatever the reason, it doesn’t half make these trips to foreign beaches remarkably tricky for English men, who must, at all times, be seen to be paying full attention to their wife rather than be caught for even the briefest moment staring at a scantily-clad 22-year-old blonde-haired Italian stretched out on a towel nearby.
My solution was to locate a fixed point on the horizon and not move my eyes or neck whatsoever, while alongside me Mrs Canavan tutted and said things like ‘I don’t know how their mothers can let them go out dressed like that’.
I sense next year we’ll be booking a B&B in Knott End again.
Brains good to fry?...and Laurie
Another crucial difference between us and Europe is what they eat.
We like things plain and simple – a jacket potato, a casserole, or (if we’re feeling reckless) a quiche.
In Majorca we regularly came across things like this:
Now I’m all for trying new things – it’s why I recently enrolled in the West Lancashire Naked Hang-Gliding Society (though I left after one session; it doesn’t half get cold up there, or down there depending on which way you look at it) – but the brain of a cow is not one of them.
I suppose in some ways it’s a good idea. If a cow has already been killed to provide beef then you may as well use as much as you can of it, within reason, obviously.
One other thing to mention about my sojourn to Majorca – I met Hugh Laurie (in Palma, the capital, filming a BBC drama called The Night Manager, based on a novel by John Le Carre).
Well, I say met him. He was standing about 15 feet away on the set of the show. Mrs Canavan shouted ‘Hugh’ three times. He ignored us. We walked away.