Bugger Bournemouth

In 1963, when I was six, I visited Bournemouth.  I vowed never to visit again.  The trip from my Balham flat to the Dorset coast was a succession of disillusionment.

There’s nothing wrong with Bournemouth per se, but my multiple bad experiences there left me very biased against it – however Alan Whicker may have praised it in future programmes.

This was the first holiday I can remember. I stayed with my paternal grandmother in a rented flat by the beach.  My grandmother had a food allergy – insomuch as she was a dreadful cook.

On my first visit to the seaside I was stung by a bee.  This was very painful; the only way my parents would calm me down was promising me a part in the next series of Emergency – Ward 10.

In the sea there was a boy of similar age.  I asked him if he knew Keith Ranger (a boy in my class)?  I was amazed and hugely disappointed that he didn’t.  Even his parents explaining that this random child went to school in Leeds still made the fact incomprehensible.  It was only, several years later, when I purchased my first Red Rover, I realised that the morning commute from Leeds to Balham may have been tricky.  Especially if you missed the connection at Nottingham Bus Garage.

During my “holiday” my maternal great grandmother died.  I was told she had gone to join the angels.  I was about twenty when I realised, not having seen her for a while, that “The Angels” were not a pop group who were on the road a lot.

The candy floss man can

Carrying on with my holiday theme, and before we all go back to our chimney sweeping jobs in September, I’ve been reminded of the singularly unhealthy foods we’d have all eaten on holiday.

I think, looking back, that the stall holders must have been in league with (in my experience) all south London dentists.  

I’m talking initially about ‘rock’.   

Only a struggling dentist could have thought this confection up.   A mint-flavoured sweet and 99% guaranteed to break a tooth or at least loosen a filling.  The type I would buy, if you cut it two, would have ‘root canal treatment’ running through the middle.

Also, candy floss – more addictive than crack cocaine, but slightly more sticky and certainly enough ingredients to make you even more susceptible to gingivitis.  The best bit for me was watching being made – a bit like seeing how a spider spins its web using a time-lapse camera.  Actually, I lied, the best bit was eating it and still having most of it round your face several hours later.

But the one thing we eat in the open, only during our holidays, is fish and chips.  But if you’d have known the seagulls were going to have such an absence of fear, you’d have bought two portions!

So, tooth decay, diabetes and high cholesterol – highlights from summer holidays gone by – and that’s before you’ve bought the mandatory postcards.  

Are we nearly at the pub which sells Double Diamond yet? 

Postcards from the Devonian age

The last time I got a postcard the price of the stamp was 3d.

No one sends them anymore – not even the ones featuring very small men with wives with enormous, Pamela Anderson-like chests, looking at marrows or any odd-shaped vegetable mentioning its size etc.

As a kid, during the summer, I had two great aunts who, upon their arrival in Ilfracombe (might have been Pluto for all I knew, it sounded so far away from Balham), would write to me using every conceivable space on the card.  There would always be a picture of the beach – not a sniff of a giant marrow 😊

It was lovely to receive, but the quid pro quo was that you had to send them back and would be forced by elder relatives – seemingly for the entire duration of the holiday – to write them.

“Wish you were here” being the obvious inclusion: but, however large you wrote it, it wasn’t covering the entire message area.   So I would lie and write about the remains of a pterodactyl I’d found on Dungeness beach and wouldn’t be able to write a second card due to having been abducted by Ellen Terry (we were forced to visit her house in Kent one year).  So, when I returned, having been released by the leading 19th theatre actress, some aging relatives were quite surprised.

And the weather; you’d be in the same country and the weather probably similar, but you were, because you were British, obliged to mention it.  You said it was hot, but then you’d never travelled to the Sahara Desert, the Grand Canyon or Mars.

I’d send more postcards, except they cost more than 3d to post and my marrows aren’t at their best in this cold weather. �