The most stressful things in life

The most stressful things in life, popular opinion has it, are bereavement, divorce and moving house.  They have forgotten one: going on holiday.  Oh, not so much the holiday itself, though they never meet the anticipation and often descend into the holiday from hell.  But the lead up to it, that is where strong men weep and the rock on which marriages are founded crumbles.

 For the last six years I have regaled Er Indoors with tales of my brief sojourn in Montpellier.  For two three-day stints I worked during the day, and encountered the night life of this Southern France city.  In particular I was there for the 21st June, which throughout the country is le fete de la musique.  It was that night I lost my heart.  Not to a person, of course, because my heart will always belong to Er Indoors, along with all my other worldly goods, but to the city and the way of life.  Finally she had enough of my rosy reminiscences.

 We Googled.  Easyjet flew from Gatwick to Montpellier for a song, and we found a hotel on Antigone, a stunning new architectural precinct within walking distance of the town centre.  (Of course, everywhere is within walking distance of everywhere else, if you have enough time).  I booked the ludicrously cheap flight.  There was a surcharge for using a credit card.  How else, I wondered, was I meant to pay?  Stuff fifty pound notes into my CD drive?  I also checked in over the Internet and printed the boarding cards (there’s a surcharge for booking in at the airport).

 Of course, we could not possibly go on holiday with the same clothes we had last year.  Er Indoors regressed to her childhood, and I was her Ken doll.  Several trips to the shops later, and we had new wardrobes.  Easyjet, I began to suspect, weren’t the only ones that hid charges into the total cost of a holiday.

 We started packing a week before we were due to fly out.  We, you understand, being the royal we.  I then explained about the Easyjet surcharge on hold baggage.

 “What, both ways?” she cried.  “Stuff that.  Could we get away with cabin luggage?”

 Out came the tape measure.  I had recently bought a laptop bag that was the maximum size for cabin baggage.  I had an old suitcase that was nearly the same dimensions.  Yes, we could get away with it.  We re-measured it half a dozen times as the departure date approached.  Er Indoors likes to have things to worry about, and my reassurances merely raise her anxiety.  The suitcase was consigned back to the attic and the two small carry-on bags packed.

 What about liquids?  Because, as you know, the French have never heard of shampoo, conditioner and other English cosmetics, so we could never buy it in France.  Therefore we bought small bottles of every cosmetic the local supermarket sold.  What about the clear plastic bags they needed to be contained in?

 “Don’t worry,” I said.  “They have them at the bleep-bleep machines at the airport.”

 Strangely, this failed to reassure her.  After a couple of days of fretting, we bought a box of fifty freezer bags, so we could pre-pack our cosmetics before leaving.

 We needed travel insurance, because Er Indoors isn’t so much a glass half empty person as an ‘I just knew some goy would steal half my drink’ sort of person.  We found a cheap insurer.  We phoned them up. They asked us to list our existing ailments and drugs.  Er Indoors has a small pharmacy of drugs she needs.  I have a sore shoulder I’m awaiting the outcome of an MRI for.  So her panoply of pharmaceuticals add an extra £1.50.  My sore shoulder was an extra £14.50.  My drink, it appeared, was more likely to be stolen than hers.

 Finally, all was set.  Our bags were packed, our car-park booked, our surcharges paid.  The day before we were due to leave I stumbled on a recording of Fascinating Aida, a song bemoaning all the surcharges for a flight for fifty pence they found on the internet.  I laughed long and hard, with just a hint of mania at the edges.

 We went through the rules with number two sprog one more time.  We were trusting this nineteen-year-old boy look after our worldly possessions and our house in our absence.  No worries.  We trust him.  Of course we do.  Implicitly.

 Besides, he’s too lazy to arrange a bacchanalian party.

 The flight was at 06:40.  The check-in at 04:40.  It was an hour’s drive.  So that meant we would rise at 02:30.  This is a time I am more used to going to bed at, so I turned in early that night, relaxed and anticipating an idyllic and worry-free holiday.

 Yes, I know.

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About snodlander
Snodlander is the nom de plume of Bob Simms. He is an IT trainer, but it's not as glamourous as it sounds. When he's not enthralling classes with adventures through SQL Server, he writes, draws and drinks his own home-brew. Buy his novel on Amazon Kindle at The Young Demon Keeper, It's 74p, for crying out loud!

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