Happy Holidays

Posted in words by nicolarowlands on June 24, 2009

Picture 21Category A) You are nearing the end of a three-year graphic design degree course with zero dollar and even fewer job prospects
Category B) You have money, of which to spend on a holiday

It’s this time of year when the rain is interspersed with random acts of sunshine that most people in category B think “Maybe I should book my ferry/plane/caravan spot/two trees for my hammock in the sun and sadly category A depletes allocated mental capacity talking about a1 double-sided inkjet paper 24 hours a day and dishes out all wallet constituents at the printers.  Needless to say, my Tuesday night was brought to you by categories H and I;  Heinz and ITV.

In case you are unfamiliar with the spectacle that is ITV’s Holiday Showdown, here is a quick rundown courtesy of Wikipedia… with a few minor amendments.  Each episode follows two families who have never met before, as they spend two weeks together at each of the familys’ ‘ideal’ holiday destinations. Each family is totally fucking clueless (abridged version ends here.) as to where the other family will take them, and the task is of course to try and convince guests of the plausability of enjoying a holiday so different from their own.  Oh and somewhere along the line ‘rules’ are set- which must, of course, be followed by all contestants.  Surprisingly, each show usually results in conflict between the two families, who often have very different ideas about how to have fun.  One family, for instance, will be content reaching for the stars and climbing every mountain high in karaoke heaven whilst an asexual pair of anoraks and bushy-tailed offspring claim to horn up over a survival week in the woods of Scotland.

It’s all very formulaic and predictable, nothing me and my phaseolus vulgaris haven’t seen before.  The sensible family does something sensible and the scrubbers just want to have fun.  Despite the obviously preordained conflict of the show, anything to engage the eyes without the brain is swell.  Bean to mouth, see?  Cinch.  Mind you, it’s often the little brat kids- not the adults- who have a problem adapting to someone else’s idea of a holiday and kick off youth-stylee.

When we were kids we didn’t have a say where we went (official ‘I am Old Now’ certificate in the mail).  Perhaps the absence of a camera crew provides for a less than conducive environment for retaliation, and because holiday snaps tend to be of the silent, non-Harry Potter sort there is therefore no wailing evidential proof to our efforts.  But we did try.  Not that this twelve year-old (nor should any for that matter) knew the definition of the word mortified, but I was approximately oozing all senses of the word when my parents decided to holiday our family in Colonial Williamsburg, West Virginia.  A 301-acre reenactment of 18th-century revolutionary America that is sort of like Disney but without space mountain and doesn’t even sell magnets if you collect them was the chip, shall we say, on a shoulder of many other ‘interesting holidays.’  Granted I was probably better behaved than your average, but my parents’ decision as per the summer’s direction of the trusty burgundy Ford station wagon be it westbound, eastbound or southbound for the summer hols wasn’t going to be steered by mouthy kids.  In fact, thanks to my faithful Sony discman and huge foam-covered headphones blasting Crash Test Dummies into my inner ears I more or less happily plodded along on these Expeditions of Knowledge.

I’ve never set foot on a cruise ship and I’ve definitely never been in proximity of one of those crazy phone books full of pools and beaches where they hook you up with some sort of all-inclusive week in Egypt or the Maldives or wherever.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve probably been to more beaches than a slutty seagull… just not at the satisfaction of someone else’s organizational efforts, and most likely in the company of snacks, books and recently-purchased fridge magnets.  Give me peace, quiet, something to do, something to see… I’m not sure I’d be able to pigeonhole my sojourn style for the sake of a Holiday Showdown application form but hopefully that is a good thing.

I think my point is that I’m not desperate, insane or most importantly enough of a patronizing asshole to even consider subjecting myself to such a sorry state of affairs.  It’s crazy how people like the Falconer-Pughs from mid Wales apparantly make yearly pilgrimages to Kerala, India.  Sorry guys, but an annual moral jerk-off on telly won’t excuse you for a whole lifetime of being painfully pedantic and dull.  I can probably guess where the people of Kerala would be quicker than you can say “A miracle has occured and you guys are allowed to leave this shitty tea plantation for a week on what’s called a holiday.”   Granted I’ve no basis for my guess but I’d be happy to bet 3 sheets of 220gsm matte finish that it’s nowhere near the woods of Scotland.  Human beings from England who are not Apache people by definition do not hunt, do not gather and do not have want to live in wigwam.

More often than not I end up rooting for the scrubbers who- with all due respect- always seem so shocked that the family they have been paired with have chosen a holiday not warranting pink trackies and fake nails.  But I can’t really imagine anyone-myself included- can ever be fully prepared for a tour of war museums in portugal.

Photo courtesy of Square America

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