Regardless of whether you are motoring, boating, or staying at your bach for the holiday, a water-pump of some kind will break down. New Year’s Eve is the most likely time for this to happen.
I reckon that going on holiday is the most domestically dangerous time of the year. I’m convinced that more divorce proceedings must start during this period than at any other time.
There are seven distinct thresholds within the holiday span which can tip a normally sane person into psychotic rage.
· Packing the Car or — How do you fit 67 cubic metres of food, bedding, 2 mountain bikes, a sea kayak, TV set, hair drier and remains of the Christmas cake into a Toyota Camry?
· Departure or — How many children do we actually have and why has the cat run under the house?
· Return to the House or — ‘I-know-we’ve been-travelling-for-half-an-hour-but-I-think-I’ve-left-the-lawn-sprinkler on!
· The Journey or — There should be citizen’s arrest and summary capital punishment for people who tow caravans in daylight hours. They should be restricted to travel only between 2am and 5am!
· Nuclear Vapourisers — Specifically programmed to destroy cars driving too slowly in the fast lane and cars with those cute family stick-figures or ‘Caution, Baby on Board’ signs, ‘Surely, Mitre10 sells them?
· Arrival or — If it’s AirB&B; ‘What a dump! Are you sure this is the place? It doesn’t look anything like the photographs.’ If it’s your own place ‘My God, look how long the grass is — and the place needs a paint! I’m going to be spending all my time working while you lot are swimming and fishing!’
· Returning Home or — ‘I don’t care if you have fallen in love, you are not a Reality TV star, this is not ‘Naked Survival’ and you can’t stay here with that pimply youth — living on shellfish and berries, you have to go back to school tomorrow.’
After comparing notes with friends on our respective summer breaks, I’ve established 16 immutable ‘Laws of Domestic Travel’ to prepare travellers and enable better enjoyment of vacations.
1. The Law of Caravans. If you are driving on your holiday you will be held-up in a long queue of traffic by a small car towing a large caravan. The car will be a Mitsubishi Lancer. The driver will be wearing a hat. The car will be travelling a fraction under the speed limit. Lancer drivers have inherited this impedimentary role from Hillman Hunter drivers of an earlier era.
2. The Law of Slow Cars. The 3 cars immediately behind the caravan, following each other so closely that there is no room to pass without overtaking the equivalent of a small military convoy, will be a 1974 Volkswagen Kombi, a Daihatsu Charade and a Nissan Tiida driven by an old man, also wearing a hat. At least one of these cars, (the one spewing smoke) will have a Greenpeace decal or a sticker saying, ‘Pay parity for Primary Teachers.’
3. The Law of Passing Lanes. When you come to a passing lane these three cars will pull out, attempting to pass the car towing the caravan, but without exceeding the speed limit. This will not be possible as the caravan-towing driver will speed up.
4. The Law of Police Injustice. After you have finally taken your life in your hands, overtaken the ‘I-know-my-rights’ convoy, when the screaming of your passengers has died down, and your blood-pressure is back to normal, you will be pulled over by a cop doing random warrant of fitness checks.
5. The Law of ‘Self-Righteous Sneering!’ The ‘I-know-my-rights’ convoy will overtake you as you wait by the roadside for the cop to do his check. They will peep their little horns and make ‘Serve-you-right-faces’ as they pass.
6. The Law of Angry Passengers. When you have resumed your journey, you will be told you that you ‘are driving furiously towards the end of your marriage’ because you refuse to stop at a roadside stall to buy strawberries. Even though you do not need these strawberries, it satisfies a primal female hunter/gatherer urge to buy them in the country. You will also find they cost more than they do at the supermarket.
7. The Law of Never Stopping. In any case, you cannot possibly stop to buy strawberries or even petrol, as you have just re-overtaken the ‘I-know-my-rights’ convoy.
8. The Law of the Empty Fuel Tank. Immediately after you have refused to stop for petrol and/or strawberries and re-overtaken the ‘I-know-my-rights’ convoy, the petrol warning light will come on, indicating that you have enough gas for only another 50k’s.
9. The Law of Anxiety. The next gas station will, unfortunately, be at least 60k’s away and turning back is unthinkable. You will break into a cold, anxious sweat and slow down to conserve gas. You will then become the new convoy leader as ‘hat-wearer’ and the waddling brood catch-up to you. For the next hour you will feel their beady, ‘I told you so’, eyes boring into the back of your head. The humiliation of this will ruin the first two days of your holiday.
10.The Law of Inclement Weather. Because you are on vacation it does not follow that the Bad-Weather Demons are too. In fact, there is a very good chance that they will hold a festival right above where you are staying. They will have contests in two sections. Wind and rain. The wind section will have events like ‘The best tent-tearing tornado’ and ‘The longest, iciest, sou’wester.’ In the rain section will be ‘Hailstorm havoc’ and a ‘Warm, windless, drizzle that will keep holidaymakers indoors, frustrated and sweating’ during the entire festival.
11.The Law of Pump Failure. Regardless of whether you are motoring, boating, or staying at your own seaside cottage for the holiday, a water-pump of some kind will break down. New Year’s Eve is the most likely time for this to happen. Whatever, you will spend an evening up to your elbows, in rusty, or faecally contaminated water — trying, with your pathetically inadequate plumbing knowledge to fix it. This will mean removing from the pump the tampons or 300 metres of bunched toilet paper that the city folk – who don’t understand off-grid living- have flushed down the loo. All the while everyone else is having a good time and reminding you to hurry because nature is calling them.
12.The Law of Country Mechanics. If it’s your car’s water-pump that quits, you will be forced to leave the car at a small and cluttered country garage where a guy called Errol will ‘have a go at fixing it’. He will admit to not having worked on any car built after 1974, and will further undermine your confidence by saying, ‘These new cars with their flash computers are pretty tricky, you know’. It will take two weeks to get the parts and you will have to make another journey back to ‘Deliverance’ country to recover the car.
13.The Law of Soapy Cheese. You will discover that the people who used to put cheese into impenetrable plastic packets for airlines are now putting soap into impenetrable plastic packets for roadside motels. They have recycled the airline cheese. You will get more lather from processed cheddar than from motel soap.
14.The Law of Orange Garnish. If you order a salad at any provincial restaurant you will find a slice of orange remains a very popular garnish. The salad will be complimentary when you order the house specialty, Chicken-in-a-basket.
15.The Law of Hot Cuisine. You will discover the difference between hot cuisine and haute cuisine. The difference increases exponentially with distance travelled from a major centre of population. Just settle for hot and be thankful. Do not, under any circumstances ask for an organic, de-caffeinated, almond milk, latte. Especially not in a tulip cup.
16.The Law of Old Tractors. You will discover where old tractors go to die. They are painted bright red and go to launch boats at beaches.
I trust that through an understanding of these laws, expectations of holiday makers will become more closely aligned with the reality of travelling around the country at Christmas time.