Sunbathing Naked And Other Miracle Cures by Guy Kennaway
It’s not often I finish a book and immediately want to tell the world about it. But that’s exactly how I felt when I finished Guy Kennaway’s remarkable memoir about his experiences with psoriasis. (Of course I was going to be excited about something psoriasis-based!)
I bought this book years ago. I’m talking eight years ago or so. It’s moved house with me twice and has been sitting on my bookshelf for the past eighteen months, whilst I’ve chosen other topics to read instead. (I mean, I love talking about psoriasis as much as the next psoriatic, but I’m not sure if I want to be reading a whole book about someone else’s life with it. My own life is experience enough!)
However, a couple of weeks ago, after another book had been completed, I found myself lazily browsing my bookshelf. Once again, my eyes fell on Sunbathing Naked. I’m going to have to read this bastard book at some point, I guess it may as well be now. So, instead of dismissing it like I normally do, I chucked it in my backpack and vowed to read it on my daily commute.
Kennaway starts by talking about his early life with psoriasis and how he tried to pinpoint it to certain activities (or people),
The stuff on my face was quick to establish itself in my life, providing a commentary on all my activities. Some things I did, like drink red wine and party heavy into the night, it disapproved of, and would be waiting in the morning to reprove me at its most blotchy.
He shares anecdotes of living in London and managing his skin condition whilst trying to hold down a relationship with his partner, and keeping his neighbours on side when it came to standing up to an unruly freeholder.
Throughout the book we are introduced to other psoriatics, from all walks of life. There’s Gemma, the teenager who is worried she’ll still have psoriasis on Friday, thus ruining the party she’s attending. There’s Claire, a woman who leads a farmer’s life and has tried all manner of diets to calm the psoriasis patches lurking on her backside. We are introduced to Emily, her mother and her father, who struggle as a family to deal with Emily’s psoriasis.
Then there’s Howard, who seems to have the worst case of psoriasis out of the lot. Despite this, he demonstrates the best attitude. Oh, and then there’s Gary, who… well… I’ll let you read his story. Definitely unorthodox!
Guy sways between telling his story and sharing stories of others in the book. The book is funny, entertaining and informative. It’s also an eye-opener to how other people manage psoriasis.
At one point Guy explains how he finally accepted the ‘incurable’ aspect of psoriasis, even when others refused to believe there wasn’t a solution,
So it was a really difficult thing for me to accept that there wasn’t going to be a happy ending with my skin. And I noticed that people who I met also didn’t want to accept that I was incurable.
“You’ve got that because you’re depressed. You may even have bipolar. If you get the right antidepressants that will all go away,” I was told.
As Kennaway weaves his psororias story around other sufferers’ lives, we learn a little about:
- The history of psoriasis (lepars in biblical times!)
- Psoriasis in popular culture (or rather with unfavourable characters)
- The (supposed) causes (including lack of sunlight, red wine, mental stress and Guy’s own list of reasons he has heard involving marriage, divorce and even Ipswich Town Football Club losing a game)
- All manner of treatments (sun, flesh-eating fish, anyone?)
- Side effects of popular psoriasis treatments, (rapid weight gain, skin rashes)
- And all kinds of attitudes.
It’s a great book. I read it in little under two weeks, smiling and nodding along in my head as I recognised some of the feelings in the books and also the types of things friends, medical practitioners and strangers say.
Bizarrely, the book is no longer available to purchase from new on Amazon, but you can buy it second hand from third party sellers for under a couple of quid. I really do recommend this book. Whether you have psoriasis or know someone who does. It’s funny, refreshing, a bit gross in parts – but ultimately reminds you that you’re not alone and that positivity, openness to new treatments and acceptance is the only way forward
At the end of the book, Guy invites readers to share their thoughts and views on www.sunbathingnaked.co.uk – but, as you will see, the site is dead. This makes me somewhat sad, thinking of all those questions and opinions gone forever. Maybe one of us should buy the domain!?
In the meantime, if you’ve read Guy Kennaway’s Sunbathing Naked And Other Miracle Cures, I’d love to hear what you think. Let me know in the comments section.