Belfast Telegraph

Home Life Weekend

Kerry McLean: Maybe I am a prude... but I was shocked when I watched my first (and last) episode of TV's Love Island

By Kerry McLean

Over the last few weeks I have come to the conclusion that my big sister has always been right about a certain aspect of my personality. That's not an admission I make easily, not so much because I dislike this hitherto unacknowledged facet of my character but because I hate admitting she's right about anything.

As teenagers, she took great delight in trying to embarrass me, as I did her and as all sisters and brothers do at that age. I would tell her friends about the mortifying habits she had (she'd go through me for a shortcut if I was to confess them to you here, though you'd think most people in their mid-forties would celebrate being flexible enough to trim their toenails by biting them…) and in return she would declare to her friends that I was a prude, making me cringe and blush in front of them.

I know it doesn't sound like the worst insult in the world, but to a teenager, trying to appear cool and mature in front of people two years above me in school, developing a massive beamer at the mere mention of body parts was not the look I was after.

She used to call me Queen Victoria and joke about covering up her ankles in case it outraged my sensibilities. Ah, the cruelty of siblings!

So much has changed since those days and I really believed that the experiences I'd had over the next few decades had knocked the inner prude out of me. I've worked abroad for many years, I've travelled the world and witnessed the best and worst of people and, more than anything else, I was convinced that the final death knell for any lingering bashfulness had been well and truly rung after going through three pregnancies.

During my first trimester with my first baby I was shocked and embarrassed about just how many people would appear in the hospital cubicle on the maternity ward to have a bit of a poke and a prod while I was in a state of undress.

By the third trimester of baby number three, I don't think I even registered who was in the room, never mind who was hovering about the more private areas of my anatomy, checking that all was well with the baby.

By that stage, I was so used to the procedures and so large and knackered that I just didn't care. My inhibitions had been worn away bit by bit until they'd disappeared.

Or so I thought ...

I hadn't watched Love Island before this year, falling as it does at a time of night when I'm fighting to get the kids into the bath, fighting to get them back out and the final battle, getting them tucked away in bed for the night. But a recent meal out with some friends had me convinced I was missing something and they persuaded me to give it a go.

I watched one episode and in the space of those 60 minutes, there was partner swapping, random snogging and (I'm actually blushing here as I write this!) a couple who had full sex. On TV, knowing that everyone was watching at home. I had heard that it had happened in past years but I didn't think it would be so blatant and obvious. I had naively assumed it would be alluded to, not that the couple would be shown in black and white, filmed on a night vision camera, covered up by a duvet, granted, but still obviously up to all sorts.

I could picture their previously proud parents, or worse grandparents, staring at their TVs, open-mouthed with horror. Yet the young couple in question had no qualms, no embarrassment and, when they emerged the next day, were greeted by a round of applause by their fellow competitors. Is it just me or is that not still really shocking?

Maybe I do have more of the formidable, disapproving Queen Victoria about me than I thought and maybe I'm a dinosaur in terms of what passes for acceptable viewing but that will definitely be my first and last experience of Love Island.

If it floats your boat, go for it. I'll be over here in the corner, blushing and covering up my ankles.

Belfast Telegraph

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