So, I’ve been invited on a family holiday.
“How does a week away sound?” says my Dad. “Seven nights exploring a few cities in Europe, as much food and drink as you can consume; balcony rooms – all with sea views.”
I let this sink in for a minute as the cheer of a free holiday starts to spread into a grin.
Before I get chance to reply, he’s walking off rather briskly down the hall, half turning to mutter over his shoulder. “Yes, I think we’ll all enjoy a cruise and a holiday with the grandkids.”
Stunned silence as the grin slips into a grimace.
There are two things about that really.
Holiday with the kids – surely that’s an oxymoron?
Cruise? I’m 33. Unequivocally that’s 32 years too young.
I pace off to the kitchen to take him up on the small print, which he imparted with such speed and run the full picture through my mind while I’m en route.
The salient points being that the “room” is actually a cabin, the “sea view” is something of a permanent fixture and the chance to spend time together is more a hostage situation in an escape-proof space.
I emerge through the doorway to see him grinning and proffering chocolate biscuits to take the edge off.
“You’ve already booked it haven’t you?”
“They’ve got caramel centres” he says, ploughing on and wafting the pack under my nose, failing to contain the smirk and bursting into full-blown laughter.
“I have” he says, devoid of all remorse.
It just can’t be right.
Seven nights aboard the high-seas, enforced jollity and deck quoit competitions. War heroes and sequined grannies cutting a foxtrot while Jane McDonald bangs out show tunes. Group city tours that are too short for you to escape and too long for you to feign interest. Dinner tables set for 16 so conversation is compulsory, swimming pools full of shower-capped grey heads and the latest perfume from Dame Barbara Cartland permeating every corridor.
“When are we leaving?”
Maybe I’m wrong, maybe it’s all glamour and cocktails by the pool, plush cabins and champagne sunsets on the balcony. Either way, I’ve got 114 days to think about it.
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