I used to look forward to holidays. That was before I’d taken many.
From a 42-year-old perspective, the 20-year-old’s optimism seems deranged. After climbing into your car, going on holiday is the biggest risk you ever take with your health and sanity.
I’m not even going to mention air travel (the folly of volunteering to cramp yourself into Stephen Hawking’s chair while a small, puce-faced child vomits and screams blue murder into your left ear – for 14 hours – defies rational explanation).
No, my principal beef is that places I can afford to visit (I definitely include my own nation’s offerings in this general judgement) are a bit shit.
Only in the lives of the super rich are the cabs plentiful and empty, the prices reasonable, the hotel rooms clean and well appointed, the dividing walls soundproofed, the satellite pornography peopled by cheerful and attractive actors, the sunblock effective, the lavatories pristine and unblocked, the maps accurate, the peace of night time uninterrupted by yelling drunks from Morecambe, the wi-fi dependable, the sewers invisible and odourless, the beaches unpolluted by dog shit and engine oil, the flash floods insufficiently violent to wash you off a mountain into the Dead Sea, the transgender prostitutes discreet and inoffensive, the pickpockets clumsy, the child beggars winsome and grateful, the waiters loquacious and amusing, the foreigners unexcitable and anglophone, the tourists indistinguishable from the natives, the local pack animals well fed and kindly treated, the swimming pools uncontaminated by Giardia, the food delicious and hygienically prepared by people who wash their fucking hands, the food poisoning confined to one lavish vomit followed by miraculous recovery, the diarrhoea brief and barely noticeable, the sandflies hypoallergenic, the mosquitoes vegetarian, the sea urchins and lethally poisonous Stonefish confined to the bay used by the other hotel, the hire cars well maintained with working brakes, the roads clearly signposted by somebody who actually wants to help you orientate, the service polite and attentive, the ‘attractions’ cheap and uncrowded, the lie-ins uninterrupted, the only-on-holiday marital sex agreeable to both parties.
In my world, at least half of the above will never be true – wherever we opt to go.
I realise, of course, that I should count myself fortunate to be able to take any kind of holiday. And – with reservations – I do.
But that doesn’t stop the gnawing tension creeping into my consciousness about this time of year.
Having Fun can be so fucking ghastly.