We went to the beach yesterday evening. Melbourne is going through a rather prolonged spell of warm weather and we had spent the day indoors, hiding from the sun. By dinner time we all had cabin fever.
On the way to Brighton Beach we stopped for take away fish and chips. Once there, we spread out our large family-size towel, and unwrapped the warm, oily parcel. Immediately the gulls began to arrive.
We ate our fill, squirting the chips with tomato sauce and the fish with inadequately small wedges of lemon. What was left was fed to the few seagulls who had waited patiently for us to finish.
Then we wandered down to the water. The sun was slowly setting and the breeze was cooling. Lots of other people were there too, enjoying the outdoors. Some threw sticks and balls into the sea for their dogs to retrieve – classic family fun.
We hadn't brought our bathers, but waded into the water, our feet sinking into the sand, our spirits soaring – refreshed. That's when it happened. Someone, somewhere nearby, sprayed some Aeroguard. In a Proustian instant my childhood surfaced.
It was a time when people were concerned about annoying flies and insects more than they were about skin cancer. We never ventured outdoors without the Aeroguard, though we left our skin exposed to burn. Sometimes we helped it along the way with baby or coconut oil.
In the 60s and 70s sunhats were optional and sunglasses were for movie stars. Everything was orange and brown.