Hateful holidays, how not to interbreed and the wettest dry spell in history

According to a recent survey, British men consider underwear to be a waste of suitcase space and take only three pairs of pants for a week-long holiday.

Women, however, over-compensate for their menfolk and take 10 pairs of knickers for a seven night stay: perhaps the extra three pairs are for their husbands, maybe they're saucy ones they can use to seduce a swarthy local when they realise they've come away with someone who thinks it's acceptable to reuse their pants.

Packing is, of course, one of the most dreadful parts of going away on holiday, up there on the top ten list of bad things about holidays right under 'paying for them', 'travelling', 'being eye-to-eye with your family for weeks on end' and 'coming home to realise you've been burgled'.

The mere act of packing a suitcase reminds me of why I find going on holiday such a trial: I like my own things. I like being surrounded by my own things. I get anxious if I don't have my things. I can only fit 0.000001 per cent of my things in a suitcase.

In essence, I am swapping being comfortably surrounded by my own things with being surrounded by my own family in a ruinously expensive room in a hotel that doesn't look anything like it did in the brochure.

It's fair to say that if I didn't feel relaxed in a big house with lots of rooms to banish hormonal teenagers to at moments of high stress, I am unlikely to be miraculously unburdened and full of the joy of summer if I'm imprisoned in a room with them and no legal means of escape.

As if actually packing wasn't bad enough, there are then the endless articles about packing which you encounter in every magazine you buy from now until August.

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All these articles could be dispensed with and replaced with the one piece of advice that every traveller needs when it comes to taking a foreign holiday: take a wheelbarrow full of cash.

Horror stories about losing entire suitcases full of holiday clothes, dilemmas about what you should and shouldn't bring from home – they can all be solved with a wheelbarrow full of cash. Give in to it: part of the enjoyment of a holiday is knowing that you'll be paying it off for the next 10 years.

I can't be alone in finding trying to relax desperately un-relaxing.

As soon as someone tells me to 'have fun', I bristle and immediately imagine them being repeatedly bludgeoned by those flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz.

If I'm ever relaxed, I know immediately that there's something desperately important that I've forgotten to do. And there is no worse place to have that revelation than when you are several thousand miles away from home and powerless to get on with it.

Additionally, all the people I know who whinge on about 'needing' to go abroad are people who definitely don't 'need' to go abroad. By definition, their lives are relaxing enough already to even contemplate having enough time to go on holiday.

There is nothing more stressful than trying to relax: it's the equivalent of a midwife telling you to breathe through contractions, or a dentist telling you not to worry when they have a drill poised an inch from your face.

In life, there are two kinds of people – those that find doing nothing really relaxing and those that find doing nothing really, really frustrating and boring.

I fall into the latter camp. I would rather sit on a red hot spike than sit on a beach all day (if I want to feel uncomfortably hot and bored, I will stand a chair next to my oven) and I would definitely rather clean out under the kitchen sink than be forced to make friends with people I'd cross roads to avoid if I was back at home.

There are, of course, holidays that I could take that wouldn't involve spending endless evenings arguing in a hotel's 'family room', developing skin cancer on a beach or doing karaoke with Gary and Tina from Hull who are harder to shake off than a fungal infection.

I expect – unlikely though it seems – there are actually some holidays I might enjoy.

Specifically, ones I don't pay for, ones where I'm not forced to have fun for prolonged periods of time (too much fun makes me nervous) and ones with darkened rooms where I can lie for prolonged periods of time while other people deal with my kids when they argue or want feeding.

Call me old-fashioned, but when I spend a vast amount of cash, I like to have something to show for it – like a new sofa or a telly – I can't sit on my memories or watch EastEnders on them.

* You may be able to tell that I am currently undergoing intense pressure to spend a fortune on a holiday I don't particularly want to go on. When I do go, I will not pack 10 pairs of knickers. I will pack four, because I'm not going for more than four days and – as yet – have no plans to seduce a swarthy local.


Analysis of fossilised teeth of our early ancestors shows it was the women who ventured out of the caves when they came of age while the men stayed close to home.

In research conducted in South Africa, it has been shown that many women grew up in different areas from where they died, while the men appeared to stay in their tribes.

'From an evolutionary perspective, it's likely they left their clan as they reached maturity in order to mate while avoiding interbreeding,' it was claimed.

'But whether they were taken by marauding courters or simply felt the call of nature and ventured into the wild in search of a new gene pool will likely never be known.'

I like the idea of venturing into the wild in search of new gene pools, it's a bit like when I went up north to go to university or when I spent a couple of days in Holt.

I think, on the whole, I'd prefer to believe that the cavewomen got hacked off with cavemen refusing to put the toilet seat down, the endless crotch-scratching and adjusting of fur loin cloths in public, the 'late nights hunting and gathering' that turned out to be fermented-berry sessions with the lads and the constant nagging for incestuous sex and decided to do a Wilma and Betty (later remade into 'Thelma and Louise') and take a one-way road trip out of Bedrock.

Far less entertainingly, the other alternative is that the women were bartered off like livestock in return for some ladies that weren't relatives. I was going to make a glib remark about Ipswich then, but I am above that kind of thing and besides, I'm looking to swap my daughter for someone that keeps their cave a bit tidier.


It's less than eight months since we were having severe weather warnings for heavy rain, storms and flooding, so it stands to reason that after a few weeks of sunshine we're experiencing a drought.

As I recall, last autumn and winter were so wet that I practically needed a dinghy to go to the Co-op. To be precise, and factual, 2010 was the wettest year since records began. Naturally, then, there's a water shortage.

Families in East Anglia are already being urged to save water by the Environment Agency – a move that was so serious that it actually shamed the sky into sending some rain. Not enough, though. I blame the government cut-backs – there was always enough rain before the Tories got in*.

A poll on our sister site revealed that, at one point, more people were willing to forgo baths than they were to stop washing the car or using their hosepipe.

Perhaps this is an evolutionary reaction to news that Norwich City Council will start switching off street lights next month – plunged into darkness, people will be forced to distinguish each other by smell alone.

So we're all skint, stumbling around blindly in the dark and we're going to stink – marvellous. On the plus side, though, we'll have clean cars and lovely hanging baskets.

* Not strictly true, but it's fun to blame them, isn't it?