Nightmare on Ginge Street

When will I learn? I can not stand out in the sun. In fact, I shouldn’t go outside during the day, period.

Boxing day 2006

In Newcastle, the only place to be on Boxing Day is at the famous Newcastle Boxing Day Races. It’s a day in the middle of summer where girls wear as least as possible and the dudes wear suits and look at said girls. Also some horses race, I assume. I’ve not actually witnessed this but I imagine there is some sort of animal racing about.

I’m sure when the day started I’d have left with sun screen on (like every good ginge), but over the course of the day, out in the 40 degree heat in my suit I sweated it off and didn’t reapply. Needless to say, my pale freckled ginger face burned like a crumpet in the grill.

Before I even went to bed my face was red raw, sunburned to the point of looking like Freddy Krueger himself (one of the worlds most famous and feared ginge’s).

Normal folk who get some sun go from: Normal > a bit red > tanned & beautiful. I, along with my fair skinned brethren go another route. We go: White > red raw > peeling an entire layer of skin off > white again.

When I go for a skin cancer check-up my doctor, Dr Freckle (that’s not his name but it’s what I call him) just shakes his head as I come in, amazed I’ve made it through another summer without turning into a pile of ash. He says that it’s not a matter of if I’ll get skin cancer, it’s a matter of when I get skin cancer. I laugh and say “yeah” jokingly but he just repeats it again with a straight face. He is very reassuring.

So the next morning after my day in the sun, as I sat eating my cereal, something drops into my bowl. To my disgust, it was my own face. My burns were so bad that my face was weeping into my breakfast!

To make things worse, I had to work at the Video Shop for the day. Every single person that came through that day went through the exact same exchange:

Them: Get a bit of sun yesterday, huh?

Me: Yep.

Them: You know, with your skin type you really should wear sunscreen.

Me: Yep.

But the indignities weren’t over yet, it was also my mum’s 50th birthday a couple of nights later, so i had to endure a party full of relatives and friends asking the same rhetorical question: “Get a bit of sun yesterday, aye?”

It was from that day on I swore never to get that burnt again. Not because of the dangers of skin cancer. Not for the fear of wrinkles. Not even for the sake of all the embarrassment I’d gone through. I swore off getting sun burned just so I would never have to endure a week of you damned tanned day-walkers commenting on my inability to endure the sun over and over.

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