Sun Days


Way back in the days of my youth, before the hole in the ozone layer appeared, before we thought too much about global warming and the knowledge of my own mortality lay somewhere in the distant future, I was a sun worshipper. I wasn’t alone of course, all of us here in the land downunder spent summers tanning. No such thing as 15 spf in those days, we had things like coppertone and our favourite, coconut oil.

Despite the days spent lying on a footpath turning every fifteeen minutes and slow basting in the sun I can only remember two really serious sunburns. One occurred one summer school holidays when I had a job watering the greens at the local golf course. Out in the sun all day for weeks I ended up badly blistered on my chest from the sunburn. I think I was about 16 then, about the age I was in the photo here.

The second time was an Australia Day weekend in January 1978 when I spent the holiday weekend with mates at Torquay on what is now called the “Surf Coast“. That was a blistering weekend too only that time it was the shoulders that copped it.

Mum would make up a concoction of tomatoes and vinegar and bathe the sunburnt areas with it. I have no idea what that did except disguise the summer smell of sweaty feet. My sister Karen and I used to have a competition each summer to see which one of us would get brownest and on most occasions it was me who won. Maybe she was more sensible than I was, but after the first few weeks of a normal summer I no longer burnt I did just go darker with each passing day in the sun. I hated that my skin was the type that pretty soon returned to normal once we went back to school in February.

Around 8 years ago I had a sqamous cell carcinoma cut from my right collar bone. On Friday I had something that looked pretty similar cut from my left shoulder. I get the results next Friday, but I guess it is the price of those many early Sun Days.

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