Bristol Evening Post
I have been asked to write a short, humorous piece about a memorable holiday experience in England, but there is nothing funny about my holidays. I remember one where the landlady of seaside boarding house refused to let my wife and me take breakfast in the bow window overlooking the beach because “people might see you from the road”. Another landlady, whose establishment in no way resembled the description in the brochure, threatened to report us to the holiday company for daring to complain!
Even my holidays with friends are not immune from disaster. Staying with friends near Cambridge, I came down to the toilet at five in the morning to relieve the after-effects of a night of celebration, only to have the ball-cock fall off into the cistern when I pulled the chain. I searched frantically for the tap to stem the unchecked flow of water, but was unable to find it (it turned out to be behind the refrigerator in the kitchen). I was eventually forced to stand there, holding the lever down by hand, until my hosts came down to breakfast several hours later.
My most enduring holiday memory, though, concerns the National Trust ghost. The day was suitable for ghosts, being dark, overcast, and with the rumble of thunder in the air. The National Trust house that we were visiting loomed out of the mist like Dracula’s castle. We knocked on the old oak door, which swung creakily open after a suitably atmospheric pause. I half expected to be greeted by a headless spectre, but it was a young University student, and my wife and I were her only two visitors for the day. She led the way through the dimly lit corridors, enthusiastically describing the gory history of the house and its inhabitants. By the time that we reached the main bedroom she had really warmed to her task, and was totally immersed in her story as she described how several guides had seen or heard the ghost of a servant girl whom a former owner had murdered, hiding the body in a wardrobe. She threw the wardrobe door open. There was no body, but there was a long mirror mounted on the inside of the door. I stood in front of it, flung my cape dramatically over my shoulder, and asked in my most melodramatic voice “Why can’t I see my reflection?” The effect on our guide, still wrapped up in her story, was incredible. She turned deathly white, screamed, and rushed off down the stairs. She was still eyeing me suspiciously as we left. My wife later remarked “I’m surprised that she didn’t see straight through you”.
No, there’s nothing funny about my holidays.
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