Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Oh, I do like to be beside the SEASIDE

There’s an email that’s done the rounds a number of times containing pithy one-liners, entitled “Only In Britain”. It contains various observations on the peculiarities of British life, all of which appear to have had the word “America” replaced with “Britain”…..for example how many of us are aware of the relative pack sizes of hot dogs (10, apparently) and buns (8), or is everyone else in the country barbecuing more than me? Anyway, the list closes with a list of “statistics” regarding the propensity of people to harm themselves in a variety of stupid ways (Xmas cracker-pulling injuries, not taking the pins out of new shirts etc) that are easily dismissed as a figment of an overactive imagination. Or so I thought until yesterday, when it became clear that it’s actually not unlikely that “18 Brits had serious burns in 2000 trying on a new jumper with a lit cigarette in their mouth”. Let me explain…..

Myself, Small Person and the Other Half took ourselves off to the seaside yesterday, in an effort to make the most of the Bank Holiday. Although it was raining at home, when we arrived at the beach the sunshine was glorious, and we (well, two of us did anyway – the Other Half’s idea of a day at the beach involves rather more in the way of tropical weather, cocktails and girls in skimpy bikinis than was on offer on this particular Essex beach) spent an enjoyable hour or so finding shells, fossils and one particularly sparkly stone which was the cause of me being the one having the tantrum when Small Person threw it away. Having established after a while that Small Person was hungry (she made absolutely sure we were aware of this by simply repeating “I’m hungry” in an increasingly whiny voice for at least twenty minutes. Apparently I employ the same tactic to let the Other Half know that I’m tired and it’s miles when we’re on our way home from the pub on a Friday night.), we headed for the picnic tables to enjoy our lunch in the sunshine. Sometimes I wonder exactly how old I am – how long before I’m booking a Mystery Tour with the local coach company and making sure I’ve got my cardigan with me? So there we were, bickering gently over who should sit where and who had the best crisps, when the calm was shattered by the arrival of a delightful family, who appeared to be totally deaf. They straggled across the green, all three generations of them, bellowing at each other as if they were at least half a mile apart, rather than the two paces that actually separated them. They congregated at a table outside the café, but were forced to move after intervention from the café owner. This was not welcomed by the alpha-slob, who announced to anyone in a four mile radius, in a VERY Essex accent, that “WE HAVE HAD TO MOVE FROM THAT TABLE BECAUSE THAT IS THE CAFF’S TABLE AND I CANNOT DRINK MY BEER AT THE CAFF’S TABLE”. He repeated this three times in case anyone in a neighbouring county hadn’t heard, and the entire horrific tribe moved to a table next to us. Within seconds, the picnic was out (including lager), the elder kids had sparked up, the radio was on and the younger ones were pestering at the tops of their voices for money. Every single word uttered by any member of the family was at ear-bleed volume, and for the most part anyone outside the family spent the next few minutes trying very hard not to giggle at the ensuing rows, intimate conversations and general loudness. The younger ones eventually persuaded Daaaaad to buy them kites, and he then proceeded to strip off his shirt and lumber up and down the picnic area, hollering instructions at his already-disinterested kids and generally refusing to let them touch the kites at all. Small Person was completely fascinated by these people, and had to be actively discouraged from staring open-mouthed as they argued, swore and shouted at each other. I can only imagine what the volume levels must have been like in the car on the way home. The sort of people you never, ever want to pitch up next to you on your first day’s sunbathing of your hard-earned holiday, announcing that they too are staying for three weeks and isn’t it nice to meet someone else from home.

And the best part? Watching the teenage son attempting to put his T-shirt on with a lit cigarette in his mouth. Makes you fear for the gene pool, doesn’t it?


Blogger Donna chimed in with...

You met my family then ...

04 May, 2005 13:31  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

Donna, you must be very proud......!! They really did have to be seen to be believed.

04 May, 2005 14:58  

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