I have been away with my family. I would call it a holiday, but the dictionary definition of a holiday is ‘an extended period of leisure and recreation, especially one spent away from home or in travelling.’ I went to a different country with my family for two weeks, and we all stayed in one room. There were moments of leisure and there were also moments of toil, which is the antonym of leisure. That’s the thing with my family. We are either high or low, and never all at the same time. If four of us were laughing, you can bet that the fifth one was crying. We never all wanted to eat in the same place, or at the same. We never wanted to share food in theory, but we wanted to try other people’s. We could not agree on the correct air conditional temperature, or the volume of the TV (Oh my God, who are these people who can’t have the volume on an odd number?)
I decided to treat myself to two weeks off caring about mess. My middle daughter (bless her) announced ‘well, if mum is going to be a slob then I suppose I’ll have to do everything.’ But her idea of tidying involves shouting and hiding things in drawers so no one can find them. She made the beds so neatly that the house keepers stopped coming and we had to go and beg for towels and loo paper.
I don’t like fast rides, or rides that spin, or rides that get you wet, or shake you about too much. I can’t even stand next to rollercoasters as they make me feel whizzy and I have to sit down. As you can imagine, this makes accompanying me to amusement park parks very unamusing (dictionary definition).
I spent a lot of time on my own by the pool reading books, which suited me fine as when my family are in the pool, they want to do madcap things like hand stands and getting their shoulders and hair wet.
Bliss made me join in with a poolside game. We had to walk round some hula hoops that had been laid on the (roasting hot) floor. When the music stopped you had to hop into one of the hoops. If the DJ called the colour of the hula hoop you were stood in, then you were out. Bliss got out on the first go (blue), so the game continued with just me and ten very small children.
Mostly, I read books and ate a lot of cheese and an awful lot of frozen yoghurt with sprinkles. I drank pints of iced vanilla coffee and tucked into sugar cookies before and after dinner.
The thing with having a break is that all your normal day to day worries are lifted, like a fog, leaving the ones you bury even deeper down to come rising to the surface.
One night, I sat in a wheelchair (auto immune and humid weather don’t always get on) outside The Fast and the Furious ride, pouring my heart out to my husband as the children queued up. I told him all my insecurities about my work, and my regrets about not running a marathon before I got Rheumatoid Arthritis and how much I still don’t understand why I didn’t say no to something I should have vehemently said no to many years ago. I talked for a long, long time. And there was a long silence and then he said, ‘I think if I’d started football coaching when I was younger, I’d be working with a professional team by now.’
That was it. Nothing about his own regrets or insecurities. He was in a bit of a dilemma about washing his hat because it smelled but at the same time, he didn’t want to wash his hat. Deep stuff. I could have kicked him, but he was pushing my wheelchair. I settled for cramming a giant jam donut in my mouth instead.
I really missed my dogs. I asked every single Uber driver if they had a dog. I did impressions of dogs for the people who did not speak English or understand my accent. Four members of my family laughed at these impressions, and I got cross because everyone knows the word ‘dog’, right?
I did do an exclusive event at the local Barnes and Nobel, which is the American Waterstones. They ordered twenty copies of Dog Days, and set me up on table by the door, so people could see me as they walked in… and then absolutely ignore me. James flirted two lady pensioners into buying a book (one told me about her trip to Sunderland for a long time first). One lad asked me if he could take a selfie with me but didn’t buy my book. It wasn’t even in the photo. I drank London Fog which is earl grey tea with vanilla syrup and steamed milk and tried to look approachable. I must have done it wrong because two hours later, no one else had approached me and the shop was closing. The friends I made in Target came along to see me which was nice. We got talking at the toy section. I was contemplating a Bob Ross Pop Head. They told me Bob Ross is buried in Florida. His grave was only 20 minutes away from the hotel but guess how many people in my family didn’t want to go and see ‘some weird old man’s headstone’?
They got a copy of my book, which I sort of feel bad about, because I know one of them is saving up to have a meet and greet photo opportunity with Warwick Davis at the next Comic Con which is a far cooler thing to drop cash on.
I thought I would be happy to be home, back with my beasts, in my own bed, with my own pillow, andI am, but also not because – washing. And housework. And dieting. And a peeling tan. And that feeling that perhaps I didn’t make the most of it. I could I have fitted in a couple more grilled cheese sandwiches, another slice of that apple cinnamon pie. Maybe the Revenge of The Mummy ride would have been fun afterall.