Imogen Edwards-Jones is middle-aged, not middle-of-the-road. This week: holiday humiliation followed by full intimate topiary
It takes a certain amount of day wine to get me to skinny dip. As a strawberry blonde whose collars and cuffs actually do match I am not prone to peeling my pants off and displaying a bit of ginge in public. However, two years ago now, come 4pm one sunny Ibiza afternoon, I found myself one bottle of rosé wine down and I threw caution, and indeed my pants, to the wind and dived starkers off a boat.
There I was, merrily treading water, marvelling at my bravery and the welcome increased sobriety, when an actor friend who shall remain nameless (Tom Hollander) swam past sporting a large pair of goggles (surely against the rules when skinny dipping?). Anyway, he ducked dived right in front of me, only to surface very rapidly, huffing and puffing for air. He was slack-jawed with a mixture of horror and shock. “Jesus Christ!” he exclaimed, just about daring to glance below. “Have you completely given up?”
There is nothing that divides the yummies from the mummies like a full bush. Those who are "up for it" spend the summer lolling about in their itsy-bitsy super-titchy bikinis, while the rest of us over-its are continually irritably posting ponytails of escapee pubic back into our increasingly low-cut pants.
In the past I have protested that my full Seventies triangle was a sisterhood thang. That fannies were a feminist issue and that as someone who has a daughter and who is terribly anti-porn and all that jazz, it was not only my duty to spend the summer posting pubes, it was what Emmeline Pankhurst et al actually fought for.
But truth be told I was scared. Aged 18, while at university I had had a bikini wax so bad my thighs bled and I had erupted into the sort of pustulous acne, leg-ne and vag-ne teenage nightmares were made of. Throughout my twenties I had therefore contented myself with popping on an old pair of pants and swiping off any trailing excess hair with a slather of Immac. However, the older I have got, the less inclined I am to sit on my bed with my legs akimbo waiting for the stuff to work.
So here I am, some 20 years after my first brush with wax, finally brave/foolish enough to have another go. Michaela at the Strip waxing bar in Poland Street, Soho (stripwaxbar.com), is incredibly reassuring. She keeps promising me that it won’t hurt. That wax technology has changed a lot since my inner thighs were burnt. Lycon wax is used to stop the hairs breaking and lavender to calm sensitive skins, and they also use essential oils before and afterwards to prevent any inflammation or pulling on the skin.
She lies me down on a rather comfortable bed, and offers me Father of the Bride 1 or 2 to watch, I am not sure which as I am far too nervous to concentrate. She tells me there are various treatments I can go for. Styles if you like. There is The Hollywood = all off (£52). The Brazilian = all off but leaving a small beard at the front (£49). The G-string – a strip (£34). The Bikini = the corners off (£23). Or the Bollywood (from £69) = all off and customised, with either dye or jewels or both, otherwise known as a vajazzle.
I am tempted by a Bikini, but just to prove there is life in the old dog yet I choose a G-string and lie back preparing to cry. But it is all over before Steve Martin even meets his son-in-law, and I have barely felt a thing. In two painless minutes I have undergone full intimate topiary. There is no crying, bleeding or even, two weeks later, no horrible spotty grow back. The only problem? I keep feeling the need to show it off! Where’s a bottle of wine and a boat when you need one?