We have just come back from a fortnight in Corfu, the dean designate and I. As you will be aware, packing for a beach holiday is a steep challenge, especially if it has been raining solidly for three months, and you no longer really believe in the concept of hot weather. Then there is the tension between travelling light and still giving yourself a choice of clothes. And worst of all, the need to pack glamorous things that will get you through the 'Why do you walk through the field in gloves?' stage of the holiday ('O fat white woman whom nobody loves.')
When we arrived at the first place we'd chosen to stay, we suddenly understood our sons' hilarity when we'd told them we were going to Kavos. The owners of the hotel took one look at us and clearly thought 'Uh-oh, they have no idea.' They sent for the neighbours who led us away from the bar and the pool, where the 20 somethings lay drinking cocktails and reading Fifty Shades of Grey in a welter of sun tan oil and lust, to a nice quiet studio apartment with this view from the terrace:
You see? Nothing 18-30 Club about it at all. We wandered in to the seething hub of Kavos that evening and I can report on what to wear. A bikini, a pair of micro pastel shorts with your bum cheeks hanging out, or perhaps a crocheted halter neck top, or indeed crocheted pants. Tans are compulsory, or failing that, sunburn so severe that if you got that way by falling into a scalding bath you'd take yourself straight up to A & E. The old grey-edged Copydex glue peel-away sunburn is on trend this season. You might like to accessorise with an alcohol-inspired tattoo (we met a nice young man with parrots on his bottom), along with some kind of body piercing which seems to you like an excellent idea at 5.30am, when you might also be amused by one of the cheeky T-shirts on sale ('I'm in Kavos, bitch', 'Let's get fucking mortal in Kavos').
But really, by the time you are 50 the moment for cheeky shorts and impulsive tattoos has long gone. Instead I opted for 50s glamour: a huge straw hat, a big pair of sunglasses, a sarong, and the only one piece swimming costume in a 20 mile radius. Not forgetting sun factor 40 sun tan lotion. The effect may have led the youngsters to stare and wonder, 'What's wrong with that poor woman? Does she have leprosy?' But I'm playing the long game. If you want lovely skin, follow these three simple rules: Don't smoke, stay out of the sun, and choose your genes carefully.