Despite the complexities of the British weather system I feel that it is almost time to bring out the shorts and the holiday hat in preparation for summer.
The holiday hat tradition was started at a time when the girls were young and I wanted make sure that they could easily see me in a crowd. As such I tended to buy ones that were distinctive and bright in colour. In the early days our daughters seemed fine with my choices but eventually they reached an age when the embarrassment hormones had kicked in and they became more and more critical of my selections.
Eventually the tradition became more of a need as my bald patch grew to a size that needed protection from the sun.
The promise of holidays brings other odd behavior patterns with it. For example I would never dream of walking around our local town without a shirt, yet put me within ten paces of a beach and I am happy to wear just 20 inches of material.
Added to this is the craze of wearing ‘bum-bags’. I am only just getting used to carrying a wallet yet on holiday I wear a purse strapped to my midriff in order to carry loose change, sun glasses and UV protection lotion.
Then there are flip-flops probably the most underrated footwear available; have you noticed how only a quarter and inch of foam is needed to protect your feet from the burn of hot sand. When I was younger the only way to deal with a scorching beach was to shout ‘Ooch, Ouch, Ooch, Ouch!’ over and over until you reached the cooling salty waters.
Perhaps the strangest part of holiday behaviour is when people insist on wearing shorts and T-shirt even when the weather is inclement. It is not unusual to see hoards of adults inappropriately dressed walking along the prom.
On one such occasion our extended family was caught in one of those sadistic British showers that follow holiday makers around bringing gloom. Not one member of our party had brought either umbrella or suitable coat to act as protection.
We all agreed that spending a small amount of money on cheap, colourful plastic coats would be a sensible plan, so off we marched in search of a retailer.
Aunty Amy, who was a loveable if slightly ditsy older lady, was ahead of the rest due to the fact that she was also seeking a place to buy a cup of tea. (It never ceases to amaze me how much tea is drunk by Aunties and Uncles of a certain age).
Ahead of us she disappeared into one of those shops selling gifts, spades and flags, only to reappear with a look of victory on her face and shouting to the rest of the group, some 30 yards away ‘They sell goolies in this shop’.
Perhaps it was the sight of such words coming from the mouth of our aged, usually polite, relative or maybe it was the fact that she was blissfully unaware of what she had said. Either way the rest of the gang enjoyed the moment. Family holidays have always been fun.
As our daughters grew to be teenagers they were generally less happy to be seen in public with the rest of the family and therefore had to be forced into ‘enjoying’ holidays. We have one set of holiday pictures that show this vividly. Our eldest daughter, who was thirteen at the time, insisted on wearing black for the whole of the holiday. I don’t mean shorts and T-shirt either; mostly she was wore long trousers and a black jumper topped off with sunglasses. She refused to be seen on most of the shots but when she did she looked like she had been superimposed on the photographs after the event.
When it comes to photographs my goal is simple; I need be allowed the time to hold in my stomach before the camera goes click. Fortunately I have learned to multitask to the extent that I can now smile and wear my holiday hat at the same time.