Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Speedos. Get the look.

The last time I wore Speedos in anger was in 1997. Then, as now, I was in France. I had just purchased a ten-swim pass for the swimming pool in Montpellier in another vain attempt to become lithe and fit. Proudly recalling my 2000m swimming certificate from yesteryear, I was looking forward to burning a few calories. I can't jog, I certainly can't run, I detest gyms, but swimming I don't mind. Popped the old swimshorts on, walked through the shower, then through the freezing little pool of foot detergent, and was about to lower myself into the pool when a shout of "Ah non, monsieur! called me back. "Oui?" I replied to the lifeguard/style policeman.

To cut a long story short, or perhaps to cut a shorts story shorter (and tighter), my trusty swimshorts were interdit. If I wanted to swim, I had to be wearing Speedos. I looked around. Everyone, well, the men anyway, were all wearing miniscule Speedos. I was doomed. Now I have no qualms about being slightly fat, nor exposing my wobbly tummy in public. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter, as someone once said. No, a body is merely a shell. On the outside I might be pale and flabby, but on the inside I glow. Warmth positively emanates. But wearing Speedos is different. I am British, and British people do not strut about displaying their packages in extremely small and tight-fitting swimming trunks. Or at least, not sensible ones. But at that particular moment I wanted to go swimming, so some minute Speedos were duly purchased at the front desk, where they kept a supply specially for naive tourists.

My swim-pass ran out with nine unused sessions.

I forgot all about this disturbing incident, and that pair of Speedos have been consigned to dustbin of history. In fact I probably threw them out that same day, knowing I would never wear them again. So packing for France, I threw my trusty swimshorts in the suitcase, and thought nothing of it. Mrs L, supposedly the better of the two us at packing, forgot to pack her bikini, so as our visit to the pool at Narbonne approached, we reaslised we needed to go and buy one for her. An Intersport shop was spotted close-by, but we thought that before splashing out, so to speak, we should check that the pool was at least open. Mrs L popped in, and came back with good news and bad news.

The good news; the swimming pool was open. The kids were immediately cheered. The bad news (delivered with a smirk I might add); we were both going shopping....swim-shorts were "interdit!" Gah! It all came flooding back to me. But we had to go swimming, the kids were desperate, and this pool had slides and everything. I spent the drive to Intersport cursing France and everything French.

The choice of Speedos was astonishing, there is clearly a large market. I bet that if you went to a sports shop here though, you would be hard-pressed to find even a single pair. I chose the cheapest ones, still eight euros, and conservatively went for "L" in the vain hope that it might preserve some of my anglo-saxon modesty. Fat chance. To give you an idea of quite how little material is used in these things, here they are in an espresso cup.

The kids had a wonderful time, however for reasons I cannot fathom, I did not enjoy it. The lady at the desk told me that swim-shorts were interdit because they couldn't be sure that people hadn't been wearing them outdoors, and so to preserve hygiene standards (and this coming from a nation that still has holes in the ground instead of toilets) they insist that people wear Speedos, which obviously people would never be seen dead in outdoors. A cunning strategy, except that French men probably wear Speedos at all possible opportunities. Dominique Strauss-Khan was almost certainly wearing Speedos in New York recently, but I digress. We were at the swimming pool for about an hour, and although I didn't get any comments, I knew it was not a good look. Nonetheless, in all good conscience I cannot conclude this post without a photograph of me modelling them.

You are invited to look away now, however, for the more curious amongst you, scroll down.....









  1. thats a classy look! You'll be wearing them on the patch next!

  2. Is that a pair of binoculars in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?