Holidays are all very well, but the things that really make life worth living can only be done at home. For example:
10: Get a babysitter in
Even after parenthood, some pitiful semblance of life continues. There are, for example, at least three evenings every year on which you’re obliged to squeeze yourself into something uncomfortable and go out for a nice meal*. As long as you remain relatively close to home all you need to do is book a restaurant and find a local teenager who is willing to find a window in their busy schedule of happy slapping and self-harm so they can come round and look after your precious progeny. All it’s going to cost you is the price of the meal, a couple of taxis, five quid an hour for the babysitter and an eye-watering surprise the next time you get a telephone bill. Try the same trick on holiday, the local teens will laugh in your face.
9: Go to the pictures
Holiday time might seem like the ideal opportunity to settle back and watch two and a half hours of delightfully sweary Tarantino nonsense. But of course we can’t: For a start off if you watch films in other countries they will almost invariably have been dubbed into some comically inaccessible language like French or something. Failing that they will have two lines of subtitles emblazoned across the very area at the bottom of the screen where one might normally hope to see the nipples of a promising young actress. Disappointing for many male cineastes, as well as a good proportion of female viewers of a certain stripe.
8: Listen to the wireless
Now, there’s no News Quiz on French radio. There’s not even a Now Show. I have no idea what the French (or the Spanish or the Italians for that matter) do with their bright young men but they certainly aren’t giving them jobs writing topical sketch shows for national speech-based radio stations. If you’re planning on doing any driving, ironing, or general slacking about in your holiday fortnight make you sure you do it somewhere that gets Radio Two, at the very least.
7: Have a nice cup of tea
The essential point about tea is that no matter what so-called ‘historians’ will tell you it’s a British drink. Ask an American to make you a cup of tea and even after you have negotiated your way through a bewildering choice of ‘erb tinctures and described the kind of drink you would like you will be presented with a greyish liquid capped with a thin slick of scum and, as if that were not bad enough, the tea-bag will be cohabiting with the milk in an entirely unnatural fashion. Every British schoolchild knows that the bag shall not lie down with the milk – yea, even in the tea of old ladies it is an abomination.
6: Drink tap water
Blame the French. Everybody does. For everything. Especially though, for those astoundingly expensive bottles of a substance which routinely falls from the sky and one might therefore reasonably expect to get for free. Evian, Vittel, Perrier: Generally packed in plastic bottles that leach poisonous antimony into their contents at a rate that would terrify any homeopath. And, indeed, most astrologers. The British, for all their self-proclaimed faults, can deliver a nice glass of water to your tap whenever you fancy it. Hosepipe bans permitting.
5: Have a lie-in
One of the greatest pleasures known to the working man (and even a few working women) the lie-in is generally confined to one weekend morning – typically a Sunday to commemorate Our Lord’s well-deserved, although disappointingly newspaperless, lie-in after that very first working week. On holiday though there will always be some oddball insisting on visiting some ghastly monument. The one time you can afford a lie-in will be the one time you can’t get one.
4: Waste a night on the Playstation
It’s not uncommon for the wives of Playstation aficionadi to view their husbands’ enthusiasm with disapproval.. This would be a mistake: Games consoles have been ‘proven’ by ‘experts’ to sharpen up reaction time and contribute to much later bed-times which means that the woman of the house is rarely troubled for anything untoward in the nightie area. There’s no such guarantee of an undisturbed sleep in an Andalucian chalet farm.
3: Wear your Comfy trousers
Everybody has a pair of Sunday trousers. Until about age 30 both sexes tend to favour some sporty tracksuit bottoms, even though the only sport that these particular examples would be appropriate for is competitive eating. Once we reach child-bearing age gender preference in Sunday trouser becomes more evident, with expectant fathers plumping for something in a fustian to suggest stability while their spouses stay with the trackies but upgrade to velour for that ‘Primrose Hill Set’ look. After all, you never know when Meg and Sadie are going to pop round in their Britpop Tardis. Thing is, no-one packs their Sunday trousers. And that’s why they can never get a proper rest on holiday.
2: Watch proper telly
Of course foreign telly is rubbish. That’s a given. Let’s not even mention non-English-speaking telly. That would be like shooting fish in a deep fat fryer.
1: Take drugs
Everybody takes drugs these days. Even dustmen. Especially dustmen, in fact. So when they go on holiday, they might reasonably expect to unwind a little further (after all, they don’t have to get up in the morning and the most common side effect of drug abuse is an aversion to alarm clocks) – Except they can’t. The downside of taking drugs for fun is the obligation it confers upon one to enter into commercial transactions with petty criminals. It’s easy enough to spot a British drugs retailer, they all wear those special hats, but overseas it’s a longer, less amusing story.