We - my even paler sidekick Orla and I - popped into the unstaffed tanning salon today. What followed was somewhat farcical, but let's just say we're still on the opposite end of the colour spectrum from Jodie Marsh. (It's the Irish in us, not the meat-free diets, I'm sure). And I have now discovered that sunbeds don't close up like sandwich toasters once they start.
The first thing you see as you enter the salon is a collection of leaflets pointing out the 'benefits' of tanning/ exposure to sunshine/ vitamin D. You have to pay in advance for at least 4 minutes use of the sunbed, which is only £2. There are recommended timings for people of each hair/ skin colour, and it does say that if you're fair or red-haired and always burn instead of tan, you shouldn't use the sunbeds at all - but obviously nothing to stop someone doing so. The maximum recommended usage, for the olive-skinned, was 15 or 16 minutes. It may be that the machine didn't accept more than 15 minutes payment - we didn't test that - but any sunbed user could simply pop back out of the booth after their first session was up, and pay for another 15 minutes. The salon isn't far from the City Academy, and it's easy to imagine pupils popping in there after school for a regular tanning session. OK, the salon does make it clear that under-16s aren't allowed - but with no staff on the premises, what's stopping them?