Reasons I Hate Summer: Holidays

Holidays are all about unpredictability and unfamiliarity – two things that I don’t do well with because I’m autistic, innit. I’ve never got what all the fuss is about! There’s also the sensory issue of sand in EVERY crevice which turns bum (and flap) wiping into a hazardous experience, no?

Then there’s the flock of seagulls. Not the 80s pop group with questionable hair-dos. I mean beaky bastards that crap on your hair and steal your chips!

Give me your f **king chips!

Is it me, or are seagulls a lot more feisty than they used to be? Maybe they’ve watched too many Steven Seagull movies? Geddit?

Anyhoo, I remember childhood holidays – at least, I remember a few. I don’t think we went every year. That was probably because we couldn’t afford to or maybe I’ve blocked a few out? Of those that are etched into my memory, I remember the entire family cramming into musty-smelling caravans with daddy-long-legs the size of Brazil and being made to strip off on the beach as apparently it wasn’t socially acceptable to wear your coat? As any misfit will tell you – coats are not just an outer layer of clothing – they are armour and it matters not that it’s 30 degrees in the shade and every other kid is running around in swimsuits and shorts!

Then there was the stress of having to choose which Enid Blyton’s to pack into my little suitcase, because as Dad used to say, ‘It’s a car, not the bloody tardis!’

My misery was reflected in the photographs that flopped through the letterbox about a month later. Photographs of me scowling and me giving the thumbs down and me being a generally miserable tw@t. In contrast, there was Dad – smiling, laughing and working his arse off trying to cheer me up.

I’m sorry, Dad. You worked hard all year. You deserved a nice holiday. I wish I had made more of an effort. 😦

To be fair, my eldest brother ruined at least one holiday because he was a teenager and teenagers are by default – arseholes.

I NEVER WANTED TO COME ON THIS STUPID HOLIDAY! YOU’VE RUINED MY LIFE! I HATE YOU!

Once I became a parent myself, I understood the effort (and money) my parents had put into our holidays. My stress levels increased because being a parent means that you are responsible for others as well as yourself. Plus, it’s your job to make happy memories for your children. So I forced myself to ponce about on beaches with beach balls and stuff. Unfortuately, my performance anxiety came on holiday with me, so having a ‘fun’ game of cricket on the beach scored high on my shit-o-meter, especially when I fell over due to poor coordination!

If you’re my kind of autistic, you’re mostly you’re counting the hours until it’s time to go home.

I don’t enjoy holidays. I survive them.

One thing I do when I’m on holiday is to observe other people because they make holidaying look easy!

But there’s usually a drama or two and one year it involved a lifeguard diving into the swimming pool to rescue what turned out to be one of my kids!

There was me and the MIL partaking in a little poolside afternoon tea (might have been lager) while (then) husband was in the pool with the kids and somehow he managed to lose one. Of course, I was thankful that my little ‘Pwince’ had been rescued (and didn’t seem at all fazed by the experience) but it buggered the rest of the holiday up because, you know, people stare, point and say. ‘That’s them!‘.

Thankfully, it’s not always my family providing the drama..

One summer, when my eldest boys were younger, we went to one of those beaches you can park on. You just open the car-boot and unload your shit onto the sand. Fabulous, no? So, there I was, semi-relaxing in my chair. I had a classy plastic tumbler of warm cider and a racy Mills and Boon. (Blaze series). One of the kids was literally burying the other one in the sand. Textbook stuff. The alcohol had taken the edge off my anxiety. The weather was warm, but not hot. It was fairly pleasant.

My shit-o-meter was at a tolerable 3.

Then, a 4 x 4 rocks up, bringing with it a family of five and a dog. They also appeared to have brought their entire house with them – chairs, tables, parasols, wind-breakers, picnic, bats and balls – the works!

The woman got out of the car, stripped to her skimpy bikini and flopped onto a beach towel with a magazine. They had two younger kids (who were seconds away from killing each other) a psychotic dog and a Goth teenager who point-blank refused to get out of the car because the sun was out and they wanted to avoid exploding into a million bats. Obviously!

4 X 4 Man started out by carefully positioning stuff and each time he asked for some help with getting stuff out of the car, his family ignored him. Within fifteen minutes he was ramming things into the sand and beating the living crap out of the wind-breaker pegs with his beast of a mallet. (NOT a euphemism)

It was like watching David Banner turn into the Hulk.

As I recall, the straw that broke the camels back was when one of his kids kicked a ball and it hit him in the face.

4 X 4 man’s face went turned a funny colour.

Then, he completely and utterly lost it!

I’VE HAVE ENOUGH OF THIS SHIIIIIITT!

The kids went silent.

Goth Teen rolled the window up.

4 x 4 Man’s Mrs looked up from Catherine Zeta’s arse.

The dog started to bury itself.

4 X 4 Man jumped up Basil Fawlty style and started throwing everything into the back of the car – his language as colourful as his face. Five minutes (and numerous ‘SHITS later) he and his family were wheel-spinning across the sand towards the exit.

Wish You Were Here. Not.

You see, holidays are not all smiling faces and Beach Boys on the iPod.

My dream holiday would be me locked in a library for a week with a vending machine, a kettle and a huge box of teabags!

My experience in Amsterdam is that cyclists ride where the hell they like and aim in a state of rage at all pedestrians while ringing their bell loudly, the concept of avoiding people being foreign to them.

My dream holiday would be a) a ticket to Amsterdam b) immunity from prosecution and c) a baseball bat.”~ Terry Pratchett

Summertime Blues

On the day I was born THIS was number one in the Top 40.

“Have a drink, have a drive”

Have a crash?

Side-burns and demijohn as a percussion instrument aside, it is a catchy tune, but I’d rather have hung on in there for a few more weeks and slithered out to Elvis Presley’s The Wonder of You. Then again, it could have been Tom Jones’ Daughter of Darkness, which some light say, would have been more apt.

It was summer. The days were long. The jeans were flared and summers seemed to go on FOREVER, as happens when you’re on child-time because child-time is different to real time. Everyone knows that, right?

The skies were bluer. The clouds puffier and the sun cracked the pavements EVERY SINGLE DAY!

Then there were family holidays..

I’m fairly sure we went away most years but I only remember a few holidays and judging by sulky chops on most of the photographs, i.e. me, I can only imagine that I was my usual shit self during each and every one of them. I can only apologise to my parents who no doubt sacrificed all year in order to give us a nice holiday. If they were alive today, my autism diagnosis would maybe go some way to explain my behaviour…

I tried hard to enjoy holidays but being in unfamiliar places (and sleeping in strange beds) sent my anxiety orbital. The beds often smelled funny and had, er, unidentifiable stains, and at that time my olfactory sensitivities were monumental. Also, I couldn’t verbalise my problems so this reflected in my behaviour. I was either ‘showing off’, ‘naughty’ or ‘moody’. Moody, I’ll hold my hand up to but I wasn’t ever intentionally naughty and I was too introverted to ‘show off’. What I was, was overwhelmed…

It also pissed me off how flies used to do that circles round the light fittings. Why do they do that? Daddy Long Legs were much bigger when I was a child. They. Were. HUGE. Spiders were the size of COWS and the world was against me in general. Despite all this, I was supposed to enjoy myself?

Sometimes we stayed in B & B’s. I HATED that. It was bad enough being in a strange place with my own family without having to cope with being around strange people too? Strange sociable people who really annoyed me with their constant, “Are you going to give me a smile?’

No. Eff off.

I didn’t say the F word, obvs, as Mum would have ended my life, but I certainly thought it. Why couldn’t they understand that I looked miserable because I FELT miserable?

Then there were the days out..

If I was lucky there would be a plan and I’d know where I was going (sort of) but more often than not Mum and Dad did the ‘spontaneous thing’ which cremated my brain. The result?

This.

Beach days were the worst.

What child doesn’t like the beach?

Me.

I like it now (when it’s empty) but not then. Never then..

I considered it a breach of my human rights to be made to take my clothes off on a beach in front of strangers.

“Who do you think’s looking at you?!”

Well, I don’t know, Mother, perverts perhaps?

To be fair, most children stripped off without a care in the world but I wasn’t like them was I? I was a self-aware misfit. I refused to remove so much as a sock without Mum standing in front of me with the biggest bath towel we had and even then I tried to keep my knickers on under my bikini bottoms. Yes, I was that girl.

One bikini in particular stands out in my memory. I was about 4 or 5 but it was way too big for me. In those days, you had to grow into stuff so nothing fitted. The top was more like a scarf and the bottoms were saggy-arsed which was dead amusing, apparently. The relief when I was upgraded to a swimsuit was IMMENSE!

The whole beach experience was an onslaught to the senses. The smells. The noise. The stimuli..

We had a little Calour Gas stove and I liked the smell of the gas. Possibly inhaled more than what was healthy for me, though. Then there was Ambre Solaire which Mum and Dad slavered over themselves. They’d sit and sizzle in their deck-chairs, havin’ a smoke and drinking countless cups of tea and be in some kind of heaven while me and my brother whinged like buggery – him because he was stuck with his moody little sister and me because I wanted to be sand free and back HOME with my Enid Blyton’s.

I feel guilty about it now because Mum and Dad worked hard to keep us fed, clothed and living in a nice clean home. They deserved a nice holiday but I always managed to spoil it for them, not that it was EVER deliberate.

When it comes to weather – THAT summer of 76 overrules all other summers in my entire memory.

In the Summer of 76, the average house cost £12,704. Wages were about £72 p/w (in those days they came home via a brown envelope) and a loaf of bread cost 19 pence. 19p!!! You could get a huge bag of sweets for like 5p. Imagine that, Kids?!

It was, like, SOOOOOOOO hot, the tarmac on the roads melted. Google it!

Chopper bikes, Space Hoppers, Quosh (warm), water shortages, IRA bombings, unemployment, flares, platform shoes, white dog poo, really great music, really shite music, melty roads and deviant DJs. The 70’s had the lot. I don’t remember the serious stuff because I was just a kid. What I do remember is how uncomfortable I felt in general. Summer is supposed to be fun but it’s not that simple for sensitive souls is it? Plus, I have to remove my cardi, which is like asking an NT to remove a kidney.

Dare I say, roll on Autumn?

“Summer will end soon enough, and childhood as well.”~ George R.R Martin ~ Game of Thrones