As useful purchases go, it’s about on a par with me buying a Bunsen burner, a car or a copy of Crime and Punishment in the original Russian.
Indeed, a Bunsen burner would bring me infinitely more pleasure, because on a slow evening I could poke things in it and watch them melt.
But nonetheless, I’ve bought a bikini. It doesn’t get an exclamation mark this time; my enthusiasm is already waning and I haven’t even tried it on yet. I might not try it on at all, just close my eyes and picture some dental floss wound tightly round a panna cotta. After all, let us remember that a bikini is merely underwear in a trickier fabric. You’re just in your scanties in public, there’s no getting past it.
You can relax, though – this isn’t a body confidence column. I’m not doing a Gok. We don’t have to truss my swimwear issues up in a pencil skirt and march it down the middle of the Trafford Centre.
No, instead, I’d like to poke my pen-sword into the wobbly flesh of summer panic purchasing, and watch it slowly deflate. It is only mid-April, and already the sum of my summer panic purchasing is: two pairs of sunglasses, two dresses, one pair of shoes, a swimsuit, one bikini and a detachable sequin collar. For a person, not a cat.
I used to take the opposite approach, of holding out in black opaques and high-necked nun frocks until the last possible moment (August). Then I’d decide the missing ingredient to transform my summer from a parade of sweaty misery is a cheesecloth blouse with apples on it.
Now, though, I prefer to do a pre-emptive strike. “You want summer, eh, society? Well then SUMMER YOU’LL GET.” Then I storm through Primark in a fit of pre-Easter optimism, working to a colour palette of “Calippos and crabsticks”, and buy everything that will do up. Then in the following months I work on a basis of incremental upgrade, replacing each item with a similarly disposable one as they break or shrink or get accidentally left on a bus, or as I realise through photographic revelation that they make me look like Miss Piggy doing a Carmen Miranda impression.
Admittedly, this year the plan has worked surprisingly well, though mainly because the temperature hasn’t gone over 13 degrees for weeks and I’ve broken out my trusty office hot water bottle. But the bikini is a new frontier. It’s mocking me, silently, from my tights drawer. It knows that my buying a bikini is a new level of kowtowing to summer, like politicians pretending to eat railway station pasties. We both know that I’d rather it was a pair of ankle-length Edwardian knickerbockers, and it would rather I was Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, but we have been thrown together by summer panic purchasing and must make the best of it.
If worst comes to worst and the weather never improves, I will start a bikini bonfire with my new Bunsen burner and use it to keep warm.