June 13 What not to do on holiday.
And broadly speaking what not to do on holiday is annoy the people who you really, really like ‘cos you must do, ‘cos you’ve come on holiday with them! And thinking any other way isn’t going to help…
And what I specifically mean is not the scarily quickly out of control ‘we’ve made a big mistake’, I never said I liked North Wales’, or ‘ I told you there’d be nothing to do in the Seychelles, now we have to talk to each other…’ type of argument that may well preface family breakdown, but more the low level paternal I know a bit more about everything than everybody else and they really need my advice type annoyance at which I can, by general family agreement, really excel.
So, for example, we were in the Canaries in the spring. At breakfast beneath the gently swaying Royal palms on our garden terrace, Dominic, like the innocent he is, says he doesn’t like Honey Melon.
‘I had some melon yesterday, nah, I’m not really keen…’
Now Dominic, my son, is of course all his ages simultaneously to me, sometimes I even allow myself to see in him the really quite adult nineteen year old that he is. But at this perfectly reasonable statement Dominic at eight kicks in in my head, refusing to eat his sprouts, or his spinach, or something else green and utterly indispensable to his future role as Secretary General of the United Nations, and so I am, as Dominic would say, ‘off on one’.
‘Dominic, come on…just because you didn’t like melon doesn’t mean you won’t like honey melon. They’re not the same thing. And you obviously don’t have to eat if you don’t like it, but you should at least try it.’
Dominic looks askance at me in the hope that I’ll just stop.
Convinced that look only means he’s preparing his eight years’ old’s favourite tricks however I say.
‘And you can’t just nibble it, and spit it out, you’ve got to really try it. I mean its just like saying you don’t like carrots ‘cos you don’t like turnips, or don’t like cabbages ‘cos you don’t like lettuce.’
A pause while Dominic tries one last time make me look at him properly in the eyes and bring me back to this breakfast table in this here and now. But no…..
‘It’s like saying you didn’t like Spain, so you’re not going to France, or you’re not reading books, ‘cos you didn’t like comics, or you’re not playing chess, ‘cos you didn’t like swimming, or you’re not going to Mars, ‘cos you’ve never fancied Jupiter, or saying you’re not participating in this life, ‘cos someone told you the next one would be crap too….so please just try a bit of honey melon!’
Slowly, very deliberately, he does. He doesn’t like it.
So, returned to my good senses, here are a few of the things one does not really need to say or do on holiday, which Ramona, my wife, has asked me to combine with the opportunity to breathe deeply and fill completely the (my physiotherapist tells me) oft neglected upper chest cavity. They include, not telling her when to put sun cream on and extolling the virtues of being in the shade more than five times a day, not asking where something is until after having looked for it in the suitcases, and maybe not waving water wings at Dominic every time he goes for a quick dip in the pool.