The day my clothing casued alarm on a Russian beach

Letter to the editor
Letter to the editor

The burkini (full body swimsuit cover) is much in the news; apparently some authorities in the French State consider the wearing of the burkini by females, either when swimming, or simply enjoying themselves beside seaside, to be subversive of the French State and its de rigueur secular culture, and, to boot, degrading to womankind by wearing such apparel, even if they themselves so desire.

However, French authorities view female nudity, or sporting itsy-bitsy bikinis, when swimming, or at the seaside, to be in order and supportive of French secular values.

Your readers might be interested in a true experience I had in 1972 when summer holidaying in Sochi (on the Black Sea), then in the USSR.

The beautiful Sochi sandy beaches were divided into two; one part for foreign tourists and the other for Soviet holidaymakers. I choose to go for my dip in the part designated for Soviet citizens.

It was a beautiful hot summer day and, coming from Ireland, I was pale skinned and susceptible to sun burn.

I enjoyed floating on my back for long periods in the warm waters; so to avoid sun burn I wore a cap, a long sleeved shirt and long pants in the water.

There I was floating about gently, far out from the shore and away from the crowds, in the lovely warm sea, with not a care in the world; suddenly, I was grabbed by a couple of strong Russians and hauled to shore.

I was spread-eagled on the beach and a very large Russian lady sat on me and attempted to resuscitate me. Initially, I resisted and protested, but to no avail.

I realised that they had never seen a fully clothed man swimming about in the sea and had decided that I must be suffering from sun-stroke.

I decided to play along and told them that I was now feeling much better and very appreciative of their kindness and concern for my well-being; the beaming Russian lady then stood up and I took my leave, thanking her profusely as I hightailed it.

Micheal O’Cathail, Fermanagh