Wednesday, 20 May 2009

The Impossibility of Holidaying

I have of late – but wherefore I know not – lost all my mirth. I took my leave of K with a right-minded smugness. He would be working, I would be holidaying on the French Riviera. He would be earning, I would be spending. A pleasing natural equilibrium seemed to have established itself. And Menton lived up to its promise in many ways: I barely had requirement to remove my sunglasses the entire week, there was a frisson of glamour about its yacht-studded shores and heady prices, and the promise of reckless abandon lay tantalisingly within grasp.

Query: when is a holiday not a holiday? Answer: when it is spent with two toddlers. After all, what defines a holiday if not rest, relaxation, and time spent at leisure, free from work? And how to fulfil same holidaying spirit if one is perpetually forced to rise at unsociable hours, appease tantrums, listen to whingeing, get splattered with tomato and orange juice in restaurants, and generally be subject to the relentless repetition and routine of parenting a nearly-two-year-old? No good ever came of believing that a change is as good as a rest. One day you have children, and the next you find yourself in the midst of a dance reminiscent of something from They Shoot Horses Don’t They? Menton has a garish little merry-go-round, which simply thrilled the Impster. Riding round and round and up and down and ‘again again!’ is the perfect metaphor for toddlerdom.

I confess I was greatly relieved to see K after the 9-hour journey home. He was looking remarkably chipper, and dare I say it, had a note of right-minded smugness about his countenance. He’d spent his week in London and Manchester doing that kind of sociable working which involves late nights, Michelin-starred restaurants, unbridled luxury, vast expenditure, lazy mornings and too much alcohol. Is it just me, or is that the definition of a holiday?

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