I’m back from Southern Portugal and fourteen days of unbroken sunshine, but there won’t be much sense from me today. We had to get up at 5.30 this morning to catch our flight home an I’m now feeling exhausted.
But it was a great holiday – sun, beaches, nice people, good beer and food. My daughter loved it, which meant that my wife and I could relax. I read three books, two of which were really excellent – The Truth of Poetry by Michael Hamburger, and Coming to Terms by Harry Guest. I’ll say more about them in days to come. I also read Douglas Coupland’s novel, JPod, which was a good laugh and perfect for light holiday relief, although not his strongest novel. I didn’t pack Roy Fisher’s book in the end – too heavy. I know there’s lots of good stuff in it anyway, as I often pick it up and read sections from it. I read most of Annie Freud’s debut collection The Best Man That Ever Was on the plane home – definitely very interesting, but I’ll have to read it again when I’m a bit less brain-dead. It deserves a close read.
One weird moment yesterday. This three-year-old boy, Niall, was throwing inflatable rings around the pool area. His parents kept telling him to stop, but he carried on. Then he picked up a surfboard and threw it into the pool, and it narrowly missed my daughter’s head. His family continued to sit there and again, the mum said, “Don’t do that again.” He promptly did it again. His mum said, “I don’t want to see you do that again,” but she continued to sit on her sunbed, cigarette in mouth, and made no attempt to get her son to do as she had asked.
Niall then picked up an inflatable ring and threw it at my daughter. Then he went towards the surfboard again. I stood up, went over to Niall and told him to leave the surfboard alone. Brief pause. Then for the first time, members of his family actually got off their arses – but not to take action against Niall. No, instead they started shouting against me for daring to tell their child what to do. I replied that their efforts had been so woefully ineffective that I was forced into taking action, and would do so again if necessary. Well, they were furious. They glowered away, gave me black looks every time they passed by, even stuck their fingers up at me occasionally.
But my daughter had the last laugh when later in the afternoon, she crept up behind Niall and, without warning (and, I have to say, quite out of character, as she is a gentle wee soul), shoved him into the pool. It was hard not to laugh, but she apologised immediately and we told her she must never do anything like that again. It didn’t make that other family like us any the more though!