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The Slob’s Holiday
My husband and I went to Reno for our holiday last year. “Isn’t that place where people go to get a quickie divorce?”asked my second son? ‘Yes’, I said, trying to look enigmatic and interesting. ‘You are not getting divorced, are you?’ he asked bluntly. ‘No,’ I said, ’we are going to an outdoor pursuit trade fair. The children sighed with relief and slouched away, muttering things like ‘boring’. I call them children, but they are all grown up. My eldest son has started to develop fine lines around his eyes – fledgling crow’s feet. A terrible sight for any parent to see. Anyway, the piece isn’t about children. It’s about holidays.
The first thing to be said about holidays is that anybody who can afford one should be grateful. The second thing is that planning holidays can be hard work. In our household it starts with somebody muttering, ’I suppose we ought to think about a holiday.’ This remark is usually made in July and is received glumly, as if the person making it has said ‘I suppose we ought to think about the Bolivian balance of payment problems.’
Nothing much happens for a week and then the potential holiday-makers are rounded up and made to consult their diaries. Hospital appointments are taken into consideration, as are important things to do with work. But other highlights on the domestic calendar, such as the cat’s birthday, are swept aside and eventually two weeks are found. The next decision is the most painful: where?
We travel abroad to work quite a lot but we return tired and weary, so the holiday we are planning is a slob’s holiday: collapse on a sunbed, read a book until the sun goes down, stagger back to hotel room, shower, change into glad rags, eat well, wave good-bye to teenagers, have a last drink on hotel terrace, go to bed and then lie awake and wait for hotel waiters to bring the teenagers from the disco.
I never want to be guided around another monument, as long as I live. I do not want to be told how many bricks it took to build it. I have a short attention span for such details. I do not want to attend a ‘folk evening’ ever, ever again. The kind where men with their trousers tucked into their socks wave handkerchiefs in the direction of women wearing puff-sleeved blouses, long skirts and headscarves.
I also want to live dangerously and get brown. I want my doughy English skin change from white sliced to wheat germ. I like the simple pleasure of removing my watch strap and gazing at the patch of virgin skin beneath.
I don’t want to make new friends – on holidays or in general; I can’t manage the ones I have at home. I do not want to mix with the locals and I have no wish to go into their homes. I do not welcome tourists who come to Leicester into my home. Why should the poor locals in Holidayland be expected to? It’s bad enough that we monopolize their beaches, clog their pavements and spend an hour in a shop choosing a sunhat that costs the equivalent of 75 pence.
So, the slob’s holiday has several essential requirements: a hotel on a sunny beach, good food, a warm sea, nightlife for the teenagers, a big crowd to get lost in, and the absence of mosquitoes.
As I write, we are at the planning stage. We have looked through all the holiday brochures, but they are full of references to ‘hospitable locals’, ‘folk nights’, ‘deserted beaches’, and ‘interesting historical sights’. Not our cup of tea, or glass of sangria, at all.
The parents’ choice of holiday destination made the narrator’s children feel
The narrator’s words ‘A terrible sight for any parent to see’ refer to
the way children behave.
the fact that children are aging.
the way children change their image.
the fact there is a generation gap.
When the need for holiday planning is first announced in the narrator’ family, it
is regarded as an important political issue.
is met with enthusiasm by all the family.
seems like an impossible task.
is openly ignored.
To find a two-week slot for a holiday potential holiday-makers have to
negotiate the optimum period for travel.
cancel prior business appointments.
re-schedule individual summer plans.
make a list of the things to be taken into account.