(Yes, I know: it’s all getting a bit, hmm, what’s the word, leery on Troubled Diva right now, isn’t it? Are we lurching downmarket in pursuit of cheap hits? Or are we alienating our more elevated readership, who are all shaking their heads in sorrow and clicking off in distaste? Well, one can only go with the flow. And this is a story worth telling.)
Sunday afternoon, the day after the Eurovision finals, and four of us decide to take the short train ride out to the coast at Jurmala. Alighting at Majori station in blazing hot sunshine, we discover a long strip of shops and pleasant cafés, thronged with promenading Rigans who have journeyed out for the day. The beach is a short walk away, down a street which is lined with rather fine looking clapboard houses (holiday homes for the urban elite, maybe?) It turns out to be a broad strip of perfect golden sand, stretching out to infinity in either direction, delightfully unspoilt and under-developed, with plenty of room to spread out, flop, and ogle at the scores and scores of absurdly attractive Latvian chaps strolling past.
In fact, this whole Fit Latvian Dude thing is getting quite surreal now, and we have become quite giggly about it. Is this some sort of cleverly staged initiative, launched by the Latvian Tourist Board in order to get the massed ranks of Eurovision queens (half of whom have media connections of some description or other) squealing about the place when they get home? Has every ridiculously handsome young Latvian in the country been recruited to parade around the city in tight clothing, or along the beach in their skimpy little shorts? It’s the only remotely plausible explanation that we can come up with.
Gazing out at the Gulf of Riga, we become aware of some sort of animal in the water, maybe about fifty metres away, where the sea is still quite shallow. As we notice it, so does everyone else around us on the beach. A crowd begins to gather at the water’s edge. The creature is remaining completely still. What is it, anyway? The Latvian Nessie? A sea-lion? An otter? Eventually, we conclude that it must be a beaver, which must have swum too far up the estuary and has now become stranded in the sea. Poor little beaver. It looks at us, and we look at him, and nobody moves.
Suddenly, we realise to our great surprise that a great big fire engine has pulled up on the beach behind us, just a few feet away from the water’s edge. A fire engine on the beach?
Before we know it, two strapping young firemen have jumped out of the vehicle. Oh my God, Latvian firemen!
They have stripped down to their underwear. Oh my God, Latvian fireman in their pants!
Ordering us to stand well back, and with one of them clutching a thick grey blanket, they wade out into the waist-deep water. Oh my God, Latvian firemen in wet pants!
(Meanwhile, just as a little side-show to the main action, their driver is, with much languid stretching – ooooh, it’s just too hot to be wearing this sticky uniform one moment longer – slowly stripping down to the waist. I scarcely know which way to look.)
Very slowly, the two firemen approach the beaver, one on either side, taking great care not to startle it with any sudden movements. Once they are close enough, one fireman quickly throws his blanket on top of the animal, while the other runs forward and scoops it up in his arms, to hearty applause from the crowds.
The pair then jog back up to the beach, and – without even towelling themselves down – jump straight into the cabin of their vehicle. The fireman nearest me is now sitting there, glistening in his damp pants, with a dripping wet beaver on his lap. (Hello Google!) Just before closing the door, he looks straight towards me and smiles a broad, winning smile, revealing perfect white teeth. Delighted by this attention, I beam straight back at him (hmm, must be better at holding my stomach in than I thought) – before realising that standing directly in front of me are three amply bosomed young beauties in bikinis, who are gazing adoringly up at him, hands clasped together in perfect “my hero!” poses. Ah well. Can’t have it all my own way, I suppose.
As the fire engine speeds away, I can’t help feeling that I have just been an extra in a particularly cheesy episode of Baywatch: Beaver Patrol. I can even picture the script meeting:
OK, so we’ll have some sort of cute drowning animal – let’s make it a beaver, OK? And then these firemen dudes show up – and then they strip off, and – whaddya mean, firemen don’t rescue beavers? Look, schmuck, they do on this show!
We trust you have enjoyed this little homo-erotic fantasy interlude. We will now return you to the Seven Stages Of Eurovision without further ado.