Becky says things about … being lost in translation

Greetings to you all, most splendid listeners! I have acquired a few more of you since my last post on being cheerful had the glorious fortune to be Freshly Pressed; and, as the majority of you are either from my own humble Englandland or from across the pond in Americaland, I shall say hello in both languages:

English: Good day to you, my old chums! Salutations and hello there!

American: Yo, bud! Waassuuuuuuup??? Hey y’all, how YOU doin’???

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If you excellent Americans have gleaned from the above that we English think you actually talk like that all the time and that you are a nation of  Budweiser-swigging, gangsta-Paula Deen-Joey-from-Friends incarnations, then you are sadly correct.

You see, we in Englandland just can’t grasp your language. Yes we know it’s essentially the same language as ours, but there are such monumental differences, my American pals, such crucial and paramount disparities that we just can’t cope with.  

For example.

You have no idea how a simple greeting from you can throw us English into blind panic.

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We have literally no idea how to answer this question. Do you even mean it as a question? Is it rhetorical?

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If it’s rhetorical, you need to tell us. We are a great nation, but we cannot handle a question so early into a conversation.

This language barrier has also prevented potentially millions of English people from getting jobs in America. Ever wondered why there are so few English people working in your office? This is due to a simple yet crucial difference in the language of architecture: your buildings start on the first floor and move up to the second. Our buildings start on the ground floor and move up to the first. Do you know how many job interviews have been missed, how many hopes and dreams have been slashed, due to this massively important difference?

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But sometimes, America, you’re not just content with moving floors around, you take a word that we can cope with, that we think we understand and you make it mean something else! At school I read the entire To Kill A Mockingbird weeping at the injustice of inequality, rejoicing at the vigour of the human spirit, revelling in the beauty of the writing, and wondering incessantly what the hell Scout was talking about when she mentioned her bangs. 

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Listener, I did not learn what bangs were until about a year ago. For those of my fellow Englishmen who still have no notion: bangs means fringe. As in, the hair that covers our foreheads.

Yes.

I know.

No, I have no idea how they came up with bangs, either.

But bangs is nothing. Nothing, I tell you.

NOTHING compared to the brilliantly astounding lost-in-translation moment that accompanies an American talking about their fanny.

**Pause to allow my English listeners to smirk quietly to themselves.**

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You see, America, we English find the fact that you use the word ‘fanny’ to mean ‘bottom’, unfathomably amusing. I recently told the lovely Lizzy from Big Body Beautiful that I had finally come to like my rather rotund bottom. Lizzy beautifully replied that she was delighted that I was ‘sending pleasing thoughts to my fanny’. This amused me tremendously. 

Oh, America. You wear fanny packs. You sit on your fanny. You want your fanny to be bigger / smaller / thinner / plumper / wider / juicier (enjoying this, England?) – and we English at first gape open-mouthed, and then laugh and laugh and laugh.

Why?

Because here in England, fanny does not mean bottom. Here in England, fanny means

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THAT is why we find a nice American girl saying she’s been working on her fanny to try and tone it up insanely amusing. It is also why I was tormented for years by the aching, unanswerable question of why the hell anyone would invent a fanny pack. 

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And as for the biscuit debacle. Well. How do you think we feel when we see American breakfast menus advertising biscuits and gravy? It throws us into turmoil. A nice, sweet digestive biscuit covered in gravy??? Are they demented??? Our biscuits are your cookies. Would you want your cookies smothered in gravy? Of course you wouldn’t. That is why the concept both startles and repels us. And what about the Great Chips / Fries palaver? We go to America and order steak and chips expecting this:

Courtesy of bbc.co.uk
Courtesy of bbc.co.uk

And instead get this:

Courtesy of @alz
Courtesy of @alz

Displeasing.

But perhaps the greatest example of a potentially fatal translation problem comes from a friend who had the following conversation with a policeman (or police officer, if you will) in Manhattan, New York, at around midnight. In the late ’80s.

Behold.

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True story, Listener. True story.

So, my lovely American buddies, the next time an English person chortles manically when you say you’ve got an itchy fanny, or gapes bemusedly when you say you need to straighten your bangs, or whispers ‘Sss’ when you say ‘Do the Math’ (it’s Maths, America, Maths), you know why. We’re not being rude, we’re just confused.

Becky says things about … the British people VS a heatwave

Firstly, on behalf of the British people I must say to all my overseas Listeners a most magnificent

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because just two weeks ago, I made a desperate plea for summer and asked all you sunny countries to send us a bit of sunshine after our weather people told us we were doomed to be rained on for the next ten years.

And, my sweetest, most generous overseas Listeners, LOOK AT THIS:

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Whatever trickery or witchcraft you used to convey your sunshine over to us, KEEP IT COMING!! We are thrilled. Thrilled, bemused, befuddled, a little frightened, rather suspicious, and generally a bit all over the place.

You see, whilst we British spend 100% of our time moaning about the weather and praying for a heatwave, when it eventually turns up it becomes THE ONLY THING HAPPENING IN OUR LIVES RIGHT NOW, and it sets into motion a complex behavioural process.

The first thing we do is get sunburnt. Instantly. Our fragile complexions are so unaccustomed to direct sunlight that the slightest exposure leads us to receive, without fail, strips of burning, peeling, crusty crimson in the following places:

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The second thing we do is talk about it. Endlessly. We can’t buy a newspaper without saying ‘Thanks very much. Hot enough for you?’ We can’t peruse a menu without saying ‘Oh, it’s too hot for potatoes’. We can’t greet a chum in the street without asking ‘Off to enjoy the sun, are you?’

Every line of conversation can be related to the weather, no matter how irrelevant or inappropriate.

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The third thing we do is read and write about it. When Britain gets hot and sunny for an extended period of time, there is no other news. Distant conflicts, deadly pandemics and impending natural disasters pale in comparison to the weather. We want no part of world news. Why? We want to experience this heatwave in our own way, then read about how other parts of the country experienced it to make sure we didn’t imagine it. A heatwave in England is news.

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The fourth thing we do is arrange outdoor activities. We enter a frantic race of Man VS Nature to organise picnics, BBQs, boat trips, afternoons in pub gardens, walks, hikes, festivals, small gatherings on the patio with Pimms and nibbles, before our tremendous good luck ends and the rain returns.

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The fifth thing we do is carry out arranged outdoor activities. No bit of pavement, no patch of wasteland, no stretch of motorway is unsuitable in our quest for alfresco pursuits.

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The sixth thing we do is become terribly dramatic about it. Within an hour of a heatwave commencing, we Brits are panting, blowing out our cheeks and gasping ‘Phew, it’s a scorcher’, we’re wiping the sweat from our reddened brows, we’re peering deliriously through the haze in search of refreshment, and we’re starting to worry about drought and burning to death. Rail services are cancelled for fear of melting tracks, cars are abandoned, people are fainting all over the place, and the Government have issued a hosepipe ban and declared a national state of emergency.

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The seventh thing we do is complain about it. This occurs on approximately the third day of a heatwave. We’ve spent two days frantically attending BBQs and picnics, we’re burnt to buggery, we’ve run out of clothes due to changing outfits at the first sign of sweat during the dramatic stage, our water bill has gone through the roof because we’re showering 12 times a day, none of us have slept since this wretched heatwave began because ‘there’s just no air in my bedroom’, and none of us are enjoying ourselves.

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And when the heatwave finally ends, which will be approximately four days sooner than the weather people predicted, and the clouds, wind and rain returns, we all breathe a sigh of relief and get on with our lives.

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So thanks very much for sending us some sun, but … just no more, okay?

Becky says things about … a plea for summer

Dear The Rest of the World

Hello. My name is Becky. I live in England.

Someone’s got to.

I am writing on behalf of my country. This is not a begging letter as such; it’s more of polite request from one nation to another at a time of crisis.

You see, we in England – you know, that poor sod of a country that looks like a toddler has been sick on the world – have just been informed by our Weather Lords (otherwise known as the Met Office) that we, to put it bluntly, can shove our summers up our flabby English arses.

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Apparently, due to the fact that the Atlantic is going through a ‘warm spell’, we are going to get rained on. For a decade. Possibly two. One of our wonderful newspapers – ironically called The Sun (oh, such vicious irony) – reports it here.

Now, clearly we are not thrilled by this news. We love summer. We haven’t had a proper one since 2006. There are 5, 6, 7 year-olds in this country who don’t know what summer is. In fact, if we were to suddenly have a summer, it may cause them psychological damage.

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To understand our plight, here are some useful statistics:

  • English families own an average of 49.6 umbrellas per household.
  • More English people die on the one sunny day of the year in the stampede for BBQ coals and sausages than in the rest of the 364 days of the year put together.
  • In England, yearly sales of an expensive perfume made from scrapings of goat’s bladder and guinea pig mucus are higher than sales of sun cream.
  • The average 6 year-old thinks a ‘bucket and spade’ is the name of a level on Mario Kart.
  • The average English person cannot watch an episode of Baywatch without crying. Not at David Hasselhoff’s beauty, but at the weather.

(Statistics provided by beckymakesupstatistics.com.)

But we are a nation of triers. We stoically stand around in mud at our music festivals (curative trench foot measures really have improved). We like to keep our gardens looking nice even though we can only spend three days a year sitting in them. We love a BBQ. Boy, we just love a BBQ.

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But you know what?

It’s rubbish.

We have lived in a damp, dark cave for too long. And it’s only going to get worse.

So please. This is a plea to the rest of the world to HELP US. For the love of God.

HELP US.

Australia: you have heaps of sun. I mean, do you really need it all? Don’t you get tired of it? Constantly feeling sweaty, always having to take cool-down showers? It must be really, really irritating. And you don’t even have enough people to appreciate it! 23 million people! In a country  31 times the size of England.

Come on. Does that sound fair? I’m sure all that dirt and rock is really making the best of your endlessly sunny days.

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And Greece. Your weather is lovely. I was on your sunny shores just recently, and I got more Vitamin D in 10 days than I’ve had in the last 10 years. Yeah, I know you’re a bit strapped for cash at the moment, and things aren’t great, so why not ship over some of your sun to us! Think what you’d save on the air conditioning!  The woolly jumper industry would go through the roof!

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Our chums in America. Or buddies, if you will. Hi there. You remember us. We’re like you’re cute little sister who keeps falling over and hurting her knee. You like us. Will you help us out? I know you’ve got loads of sun because I’ve been to lots of your states. It took me a mere 20 minutes to get sunstroke in Death Valley. Is that necessary? Can’t you turn the heat down a bit? Give us a few degrees? And what about Utah? I saw nothing but blue skies in Utah, and there is a lot of empty space in that state. Florida? Fed up with us pasty English folk descending on you every month of the year and eating all your doughnuts and talking loudly about how nice the weather is in the queues at Disneyworld? Well give us some sun to take home with us and we’ll stay in our country a bit more and won’t bother you. 

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I don’t know how you’re going to do it. I don’t know which airline offers the best rates on transporting sun. I don’t know whether you can take it as hand luggage or whether you’d have to check it in. I just don’t know. I’m just asking you to help us. Please. Send us some sun. Don’t keep it all to yourselves. Share and share alike.

And as I wrote that sentence, the sun came out. Whoever sent that over: THANK YOU.

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It’s gone back in again. STOP PLAYING MIND GAMES WITH US. WE ARE FRAGILE AND PRONE TO WEATHER-INDUCED HYSTERIA.

Thank you for listening

Kind regards

Becky (on behalf of England) xx

Becky says things about … saying hello

So. Having had the tremendous good fortune of being Freshly Pressed in the last few days with my confessions at how rubbish I am at exercise, I seem to have gained quite a few more listeners who are willing to hear the things that I say. Therefore, I just wanted to –

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Stickman, you know full well that that is NOT what being Freshly Pressed entails. I am trying to make a serious and heartfelt gesture to my new listeners, and that’s very difficult to achieve when you insist on mucking about. Will you please just be sensible.

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And less of the attitude.

Sorry about that, dear Listeners.

What I was going to say before we were interrupted by a stick with an attitude problem, was a big friendly

“HELLO”

and

“HI THERE”

and

“GOODNESS ME, YOU LOOK LOVELY, AND YOUR SKIN IS REALLY GLOWING, HAVE YOU BEEN EATING MORE OILY FISH RECENTLY?”

and other such salutations to my lovely new listeners.

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And this is my pal Stickman, who hangs around and helps me say things. He’s a great guy, on the whole, but can sometimes be, to put it bluntly, an emotional, mental and physical carcrash, so watch out for him.

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You can refute all you like, mate, it’s the ruddy truth. You’re mental.

Anyway, that’s what I wanted to say: HELLO TO ALL MY LOVELY NEW LISTENERS (and obviously a high-five to all my existing listeners – you’re great, you guys). I look forward to saying things to you and to checking out your own fabulous blogs when I get back from a holiday to Greece in a couple of weeks. If you fancy joining me, I’ll be in Greece. I’ll be the English girl with the crimson face and the one strip of sunburn on her left shoulder (classic English holiday look).

Until next time, it’s cheerio from me!

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Oh for God’s sake. Those things will stunt your growth you know. You could’ve been a massive oak tree standing proudly in a park by now if you’d never smoked. Instead you’re just a stick doing stuff on a blog. Life choices, Stickman. Life choices.

Becky says things about … saying things on other people’s blogs

Yes, sweetest Listeners, I don’t just say things on MY blog, I say things on other people’s blogs! Isn’t that great?

The clown of all evil / knowledge / worldly omnipotence, Le Clown, asked me if I’d take him out of his cosy clown home in Montreal and show him the sights in London.

I myself couldn’t be bothered to do this, so I got Stickman to do it, and, predictably, chaos ensued.

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Okay, mate. I just don’t think anyone is ever going to ask you to show them round a  major city again, that’s all.

Anyway, Listeners, check out the whole unfortunate escapade here.

Becky says things about … terrible confessions

I recently made a throwaway confession on my Facebook page which went thus:

Porridge is revolting. There, I said it.

The comments I received were so numerous and passionate in their defence of porridge (good book title, that: In Defence of Porridge. Hands off, that one’s mine) that it rather took me aback. It also pleased me greatly that I had done something I don’t normally do: made a controversial statement. It made me feel quite the new woman.

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So, spurned by my new-found rebelliousness and disregard for people’s opinions, I decided I would make some more confessional controversial statements. It’s rather liberating, you see. Rid myself of my deepest, darkest secrets and put them out there for people to do with what they will. Because I just don’t care. I am a law unto myself. FREEDOM!!

1. I quite often find children intolerable.

Thought I’d start with a nice evil one, but also one which I know will have a lot of you biting your lip and nodding in a ‘Thank God someone else does too’ kind of way.

Kids are cute, I’ll give them that. Not all kids, mind. There are some repulsive children out there, the sort where it is literally impossible to smile benignly and say to the mother ‘Awwww, she is adorable, you must be so excruciatingly proud to have spawned such a beautiful creature.’

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But I can handle ugly children. I’ll just look at them and wince a bit, and there’s no harm done. It’s children’s behaviour I can’t handle. Now, I know that by their very undeveloped and uneducated and un-everything nature, children can be expected to act in ways that are perhaps socially and humanely undesirable, such as throwing tantrums when they don’t get their own way, or crying when they’re tired or hungry, or winging and being unreasonable and refusing every offer of food, sleep, warmth, entertainment and affection, but I just can’t help wanting to kneel in front of them and say very quietly:

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And as for letting them win at stuff – well. Perhaps fortunately, I am yet to have my own children, because those children, when / if they eventually turn up, will have to learn the hard way that, guess what: LIFE IS NOT A BOWL OF RUDDY CHERRIES. So you’re not very good at hitting a shuttlecock with a badminton racket, and you’re desperate to beat your mum or at least get the bloody thing over the net, and your mum might shout words of encouragement and advice from the other end of the garden, but you know what she won’t do?

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Hell no. Because you haven’t won, have you? You can’t even get the bloody thing over the net. And years later, when you sit down in an interview room for the job of your dreams and the interviewer doesn’t say ‘You sat down in that chair very nicely, you’ve got the job,’ you won’t be disappointed. Then you’ll thank me.

2. If I were Queen, I would ban football, tennis and golf from ever being shown on television.

It’s a Wednesday evening. You’ve had a hard day at work. Your boss doesn’t respect you and someone used up all your milk. You want a nice quiet drink down the pub to relax. You get to the pub and are confronted with this:

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You spend the next hour listening to loud and fascinating opinions on the rules of football and the moral integrity of the referee, punctuated by brain-imploding cheers or teeth-aching expletives, knowing that at the end of 90 minutes you can look forward to a detailed analysis of the previous 90 minutes by those people who have just spent 90 minutes watching the 90 minutes and talking about the 90 minutes whilst watching the 90 minutes.

Or you get home from work one day in late June to find that your house has burnt down, destroying every possession you ever owned, with no hope of salvaging anything whatsoever, and you call a friend for some support.

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Or you’ve just run someone over and you’re quite keen to get it off your chest, so you go down the pub and sit next to your mate and have the following conversation:

You: Mate, I really need to –

Mate: Shh.

You: What? I just need –

Mate: Shh.

You: Why are you shhing me?

Mate: Tiger’s about to take a par 6.

You: What?

Mate: Shh.

You: Look, me talking in a pub in England is not going to disturb Tiger Woods playing golf in Florida –

Mate: Shh.

You: Mate, I really need some support here –

Mate: Shh.

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Enough said. Of all sports, it’s those three that ruin the most lives.

3. I couldn’t really care less about animals.

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Now let’s get one thing straight. With the exception of cats, I do not want to perform animal genocide and rid the world of every living animal on earth. I’m fine with coexisting in a world with animals. I really like dogs. I quite like sheep, and I’ve definitely got quite a lot of time for most ducks, especially mallards. But a photo of a horse leaning down to nuzzle its foal and the words Motherhood is Beautiful written across it will take me dangerously close to animal genocide. 

And I resent the fact that, just because I can’t get excited about your 3,503 blurred photographs of the back-end of an elephant from your African safari, it does not mean I deserve this:

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And yes, that is the blood of a newborn kitten I am drinking.

4. I have never seen Back to the FutureThe GodfatherRocky, The Karate Kid, Labrynthe, The Breakfast Club, Star Wars, or Top Gun, and I thought Ghostbusters was rubbish.

When I was a child, having to admit that I had never seen any of the above films was something I dreaded. It was social suicide. Mockery, shunnage, and active disdain would ensue. My pleas of ‘But I have seen Gone with the WindSingin’ in the Rain, The Man Who Would Be King, and I thought the BBC adaptation of I, Claudius was simply marvellous’ fell on deaf ears.

But as I got older, identifying a social situation in which I could drop this bombshell gave me more and more pleasure:

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You know what, I’ve got through 28 years without ever having seen those films, and I’ve done okay. And what’s moreI’m shocked and appalled when you tell me you’ve never seen Strictly Ballroom, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Calamity Jane, Mary Poppins, The Railway Children or Monty Python and the Holy Grail. And the more shocked you act when I tell you what films I haven’t seen, and the more you tell me I absolutely have to watch them or else I will be a social outcast for all eternitythe less likely I am to ever watch them.

That’s just how it works.

5. I would rather have a holiday in Las Vegas than help build a school in Africa.

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I’m a nice person, honest. Just like you’re a nice person. We’re all nice people, really. But if someone said to you ‘I’ll pay for you to go to Las Vegas, stay in the most expensive suite on the Strip, give you £5,000 to spend, and book you in at the best breakfast buffet in the city, or … you can go to a small African village and help build a school that the community so desperately needs’, think very long and hard about your answer.

Believe me, if I had Bill Gates’ dosh, I’d get a whole heap of schools built over there – I mean, they wouldn’t be able to move for schools and wells and hospitals and housing.

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I’d just also spend a hell of a lot of time squandering heaps of cash and indulging in sordid debauchery in Las Vegas, that’s all.

I feel much better after confessing all that. All that remains for me to do is sit back and await the hate mail…*

*Please don’t send me hate mail.

Becky says things about … stand-up sunbeds

What’s that you say? ‘Becky, surely you can’t have anything to say about stand-up sunbeds’?

Well, O doubting Listener, I do.

Here in England, Mr Sun, after a long and frankly evil period of absence, has finally decided to show his face, and much like the rest of the pasty, sallow English species, I panicked when I realised that I will soon be required to exhibit flesh in public.

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So there was nothing for it but to pay a visit to a sunbed.

Except that when I go on the lie-down sunbeds – which really isn’t that often – I get a burnt bum. I mean a seriously burnt bum. Traffic cones will melt if I stand too close to them.

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So to avoid this potential plastic-melting hazard (because one must consider every eventuality), I opted instead for a stand-up one.

For those of you who have not been in a stand-up sunbed, it is like walking into a toilet cubicle on a spaceship in which someone has left the heating on for many hours. It has flashing buttons and neon lights and big heavy doors that should make a vvvvvvt noise when they close, as all spaceship doors do.

For those of you who have been in a stand-up sunbed – you just, kind of….

stand….

Don’t you?

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They’re just a bit awkward, aren’t they? I mean you really do just

stand.

Naked, blasted with ultra-violet rays, wearing tiny black goggles, in a confined space.

It’s all a bit strange, really. I thought to myself ‘Well…… here we are then…’ And then thought of nothing, because there is literally nothing else to do or think.

Then I decided to pass the 10 minutes by doing some squats. You know, get a tan, tone my bum, multi-tasking like a pro. So I sank into the first squat, burnt my bum on the ultra-violet wall behind me, cursed, and stood up again. That was the end of the squatting debacle.

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So then I thought that, despite the lack of music, I’d try a little dance. Anything to avoid just

standing.

So I performed a jazzy cavort that involved one very small side-step. Then a very small side-step back again. And so on, for about nine seconds, until I felt embarrassed in front of myself and stopped.

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So after that I was back to just

standing.

But then seeing as I was naked, I thought I’d pass some time by fiddling with myself. No not like thatyou foul beast. There’s a time and place for everything, and those silly goggles do not put you in a sexy mood. I mean just … you know … fiddling. I played with my elbow skin for a bit. That was fun. Then I prodded my stomach. Then I gauged whether I could be suspended by a hook through my love handle in a Saw-like torture method, and decided that I definitely could, which was a bit of a bummer.

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Then when I’d run out of bits of prod, poke and pull, I was forced to just

stand.

After about 30 seconds of

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I thought I’d be a daring ninja-type-James Bond-tough-guy and flip my goggles off my eyes to see just how bright it really is in there.

I performed said goggle-flipping manoeuvre . And I’ll tell you just how bright it is in there. It is ****ing bright.

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After causing myself permanent ocular damage, adding ‘Being suspended from a hook by my love handle’ to my list of Things To Worry About, embarrassing myself in front of myself with scanty dance moves, and searing my posterior, I decided to play it safe and wait out the last few minutes by just

standing

while my skin slowly crisped.

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I prefer the lying-down ones.