I could not resist any longer, and now my recklessness has come back to haunt me.
I am not talking about an extra-marital affair here. I am talking about my inability to withstand the lure of the fake tan bottle. However, as with an extra-marital affair, I am left with a sense of guilt, disappointment, and a concern about how I am going to get the stains out.
Being the less-than-proud owner of very pale skin, I have always been fascinated with fake tan – but only on my legs. I am happy to ignore the obvious discrepancy between the colour of my legs and the rest of my body, and have always spent the summers looking like one of those children’s books where you flip the different parts of the head, body and legs to create a hybrid creature.
My love affair with fake tan started with the late Eighties arrival of the mighty (stinky) Duo Tan. The directions promised that after liberal application of this clear cream, I would wake up in the morning with beautiful bronzed legs. In fact, although my legs always did change colour (more ‘rust’ than ‘bronze’) this was eclipsed by the horror of looking at my bed sheets. I still remember the heated discussions with my mother that, no, I really didn’t need to take Immodium.
Then there was a craze for tanning tablets, which my mother forbade me from using (this from a woman who, in the post-War period, used to soak her own legs in cold tea). These tablets consisted mainly of beta-carotene and carrot powder, so you can imagine the resultant shade of ‘tan’ that they produced. I believe you can replicate this effect in your kids if you give them plenty of Sunny Delight to drink.
You would think that I would have seen enough fake tanning products to put me off for life. But no, like the gullible fool I am, I am always ready to try a new one. Of course, it always ends in tears. The initial rush of delight and euphoria quickly wears off, along with the tan.
To try and prove the triumph of optimism over experience, I have recently been experimenting with the much-lauded Johnson’s Holiday Skin. It all started off really well, and the last few days have seen me springing about with apparently sun-kissed limbs. But this morning I noticed pale streaks on my shins, and dark, dry patches on my battle-scarred knees. The overall effect suggested by the nicotine shade is that my legs have a forty a day habit.
I have a glass of Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon (Tesco £5.48 down from £8.48 until 15/5), and as I am enjoying its slightly minty smoothness, I am stretching my blotchy legs out in front of me.
Presumably I will either have to wait for the fake tan to wear off, or scrub at my knees until I remove the top layer of skin. Or, I could do what I probably should have done in the first place, and just wear trousers.