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Martin Hesp: Never mind bind of travel – just holidaying is good

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 28, 2013


Martin Hesp

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Going on holiday is a strange thing to do – a kind of civilised, unforced, evacuation process that sees us getting all stressed and out of sorts.

Down through the ages people have been forced in tragic and frightening circumstances to grab things and flee their homes. We do so on a regular and voluntary basis, spending large sums for the so-called enjoyment of these occasional upheavals...

We must be nuts – and I genuinely think we probably are. By which I mean, it seems mass populations are easily indoctrinated so they end up doing things that are neither normal nor, at times, desirable.

That is proved by awful interludes in our history such as terrible occasions when mass evacuations really did take place. Hitler and his henchmen convinced an entire nation of mainly decent folk to do the most atrocious things during the Second World War – there were some real Nazis, but the majority of Germans were just ordinary people swept up in an all-embracing and ruinous wave.

What is amazing is how fast things can become the accepted norm. The story of evolution teaches us changes in nature take a long time, but we humans seem to have fast-track ways of making transformations. One year the Germans were going about their daily business, the next they were committing some of the worst atrocities ever witnessed.

Today, in the Western World at least, we are hopefully becoming civilised enough not to do such things any more. But we do go in for an awful lot of what could be described as "norm-bending".

I realise I might be pushing the bounds of sensibility by talking about Naziism and the taking of holidays in one opinion column, but in a way they are the dark and light shades of the same strange ability we have for instant mass-acceptance.

Just a few generations ago no one went on holiday. Now most people do. To such an extent that it is almost become a kind of human right. For many of us, a year without a foreign holiday seems like some mini personal disaster – the kind of failure we ought to be able to write to our MP about.

When I was young, only posh people went abroad. Us lot down the council houses certainly did not. And when we looked at our grannies and granddads, we saw a whole generation who did not go on vacation at all.

I remember my gran and granddad taking one holiday. Just one. They rented a thing called a dormobile and went to tour around the Home Counties where my granddad (who had been too old to fight in the Second World War) had served as some kind of auxiliary in the Army.

His normal idea of holiday-making was to go on day trips by rail. He would take me along sometimes and we would go to extremely odd places for no apparent reason. I recall being trundled off, aged six, from West Somerset to North Somerset, where we spent an hour in a place called Yatton.

When we got there we walked into the village, bought an ice cream, then went back and sat on the sunlit platform awaiting a train to take us home. I remember numerous trips like this – but cannot, for the life of me, recall the reason for going on any of them.

Maybe this created in me an addiction for travel – at least, in terms of the old mantra: it is not the destination, it is the getting there that matters.

Anyway, what is odd is how, in my own lifetime, holidays have been transformed from things you hope might happen, to expensive necessities we expect.

Somehow we skim through the terrible upheaval I am about to suffer this very day. We forget how alarming it is to pack a tiny suitcase that will fit in an overhead locker, or the endless bind that is travelling from the Westcountry to one of the main airports and the human meat-market that greets us when we get there.

We overlook the fact that the foreign hotel is never, ever, as comfy or convenient as the expensive home we have left behind and that the much-heralded local food almost always fails to come up to expectations and the people the other end only want us for our money and not because we Brits are so wonderful to have around.

None of this matters because we are on holiday. And that is good.

Is not it?

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