‘Now I need another holiday to get over the holiday!’
How often do we hear that?
It’s more of a culture shock coming home than it is going to see other countries!
After a week or two of waking up to deep blue skies every morning, with leisurely hours of floating in luke-warm water, meandering along sandy beaches, and sipping local wine while gazing at the stunning sunsets, your plane approaches the airport with rain sliding sideways off the windows. And there’s always that ugly yellow light shining through the wetness, isn’t there?
Why do we all speed up as soon as we get off the plane? What’s the rush? We all know that we’ve got to stand together and anxiously wait until our cases appear.
(Okay, I always hurry because I need the loo, but what’s everyone else’s excuse?)
The hotel waiter/chef/manager’s face used to light up every time he spotted you, his gorgeous, slightly-tanned body unmarred by trendy tribal markings. He didn’t care about your Wobbly Bits or Bingo Wings. He admired you just as you are. He suggested that you move to live there, with sun, sea and sand, and promises of things to come.
And now it’s back to fat, farting, tattooed, bald, burping Brits with big bellies and bum cracks. (What is that all about? Is the human race now ‘apeing’ the baboons, showing off their pink, and often spotty, posteriors?)
The waiter/chef/manager never cracked stupid, insulting jokes like Shortarse, Chicken Legs or Big Knockers, followed by loud, bellowing laughter at his own insulting comments. He was always quiet, calm and complimentary. He made you feel 20 years younger, and several stone lighter. He saw the Inner You. In fact, he did an instant Gok Wan on you and made you feel lovely.
Were you genuinely transformed into a beauty through being treated like a woman again, instead of a figure of fun? Maybe he made your skin glow and your eyes shine. Perhaps the frown lines and wrinkles melted away as your tension lifted.
In fact, come to think of it, you did get admiring glances from other men; always the locals of course. Not the Brits! They were too busy making sure that they got their money’s-worth, swigging the all-inclusive drinks all day and cracking non-funny jokes that the staff didn’t understand, but laughed politely anyway.
Women are the last thing on their minds when they go on holiday. And God forbid if there’s not a huge TV in the hotel so they don’t miss the football!
Don’t you get the feeling that if you walked past them in the nude, they’d probably not notice? But if they did, they’d just comment that you need ironing, bellow with forced laughter, then turn back to their lager!
The waiter/chef/manager and all the barmen wouldn’t fail to notice and the compliments would fly in several languages, no matter how tired or overworked they were. Then the waiter/chef/manager would gently wrap you in a cover and lead you into the sunset.
Okay, back to Reality.
It’s home to a pile of bills, and brochures declaring, ‘I was on the Verge of Bankruptcy. Now I Make a Million Every Month While sitting on a Beach in Barbados.’
They make it sound so easy, don’t they?
Your Mum phones a few seconds after you get in, saying ‘Oh you’re back then.’ She asks if you had a nice time, then interrupts to tell you about all the tragedies that have happened ‘while you were away enjoying yourself, but she’d managed to cope on her own, with the help of Next Door, or a distant relative who’s hoping to be remembered in The Will.’
Your neighbour pops over to return your key and moans about the terrible weather they’ve had while you’ve been away, the local crime rate, and the Government’s latest financial torture, then collects the bottle of wine you’ve brought them back to thank them for watching the house.
You unpack the dirty washing and two mosquitoes while The Other Half sits and wades through the mail, moaning all the time, saying you really shouldn’t have gone on holiday and it’s back to work tomorrow to pay for it all and he doesn’t know how you’re going to get through the next couple of months.
And guess what? Shirley Valentine’s on the telly in the evening!
Before you plan to leave The Other Half a note, saying ‘Dinner’s in McDonald’s and I’m on a plane,’ stop and think, and analyse the situation.
Despite the EU’s attempts to make us all the same, we’re definitely not. Thank goodness. Deep sigh of relief.
Your admiring waiter/chef/manager may be genuinely delighted to see you (if he’s not already gazing into the next load of passengers’ eyes and making them feel young.) But what would the future hold?
For a start, he’s possibly working long hours for a much lower hourly rate than we get here, plus the high cost of living thanks to the euro.
He’s got far more important things to think about than gazing into your eyes all night. Like all of us, he’s got bills to pay! And will he be gazing into other women’s eyes while he’s working?
You’d be expected to work and pay your share – in fact, you’d have to, to survive.
Believe me, if you’re not used to working long hours in high temperatures, the romance will quickly fly out the window and you’ll soon be getting your nightly headaches again!
Your youthful glow and sparkly eyes will be a thing of the past in a very short time. But at least the extra weight should come off without the need of dieting.
And what about his family when he takes you home?
His Mum will have been brought up to care more about running the home than dieting and staying young. She’ll have spent a lifetime working her socks off. (Actually, she probably still wears them.)
She will always have felt secure and confident about her way of life.
Then you appear, all made-up and trying to act girly.
You might both be nearly the same age, but she’ll probably look old enough to be YOUR Mum!
You’re going to be Public Enemy No 1.
Anything that she can think of to say against you will be whispered in her adored son’s ear. And all the local unspoken-for girls will be invited to the house.
Can you sit there and join in the conversation? Or will you need to have everything translated for you while you wait with a stupid grin on your face, not realising that you’re being verbally ripped to bits?
Then there’s The Granny. A tiny, shrivelled creature in black who would give Hansel and Gretel nightmares.
When she’s not leaning on her walking-stick, she’s wielding it like a lethal weapon.
Unlike our Senior Citizens, who are given politically correct titles, then shoved in a home as soon as possible, The Granny is The Godmother. She makes all the final decisions. Fully-grown grandsons over a foot taller than her quake with fear when she shouts at them.
She will be just old enough to be your Mother, but she’ll look about a hundred and two.
She’ll hate you on sight.
It will still be the same country. The sun will still shine. The sky will still be blue. The sea will still be luke-warm. The sunsets will still be stunning.
Yes, but will you still appreciate it?
Will you really be happy, or will you feel lonely?
What about friends? And will you have time for coffee and girly chats, or will you be working all hours?
Maybe you have enough money to buy a house or a bar there, and your waiter/chef/manager’s freedom so you can keep an eye on him.
But even though other races can be charming to women, there are times when they all prefer the company of other men.
He may have a routine of going to the local bar every evening for a few hours on his days off. You’ll be stuck with the family.
Then there’s the Hunting Season, when they all disappear for days on end.
You might be one of those women who can adjust to a different culture with no regrets.
But if you do, you’ll be one of the few!
Forget about your waiter/chef/manager and look forward to next year’s holiday. There’ll be another one in another country to drool over and dream about while he stares into your eyes.
In a way, we’re just as bad as them, aren’t we?
Image: Dancing On The Bar by Beryl Cook