By far the most expensive purchase for the summer for the Mother and her partner was the holiday. Depending on their finances, family holidays loosely fell into one of two categories: one, a holiday abroad where you stayed in a hotel; the other, a week at a caravan park in the UK.
The first type of getaway meant putting a lot of money away in advance. Unless somehow, you got lucky. Say, for example, a large tax refund, or an unexpected death in the family, followed by a big fat will. After all, every cloud has a silver lining!
Once, several years ago, the Mother had received a vast overpayment of tax credits. When HMRC wrote to her asking for it back, she was already halfway to Morocco. Unfortunately, she was too old to go on the run, so spent the next two years paying it back. But still, it was a lovely holiday.
However, if you couldn’t afford that exclusive and elusive hotel on the Riviera, there was always the static caravan, just not on the Riviera. The Mother had her own personal and private opinions about this type of break. It was a view that was unlikely to appear in the Cribbins Holiday Park newsletter, but if it ever did, it would read something like this:
Warning: Caravan holidays and what they don’t want you to know
You arrive at your destination and start to unpack, and then it hits you – you’re going to be spending the next week in a box on wheels that is about a third the size of your own home (which in the Mother’s case was a two-bedroom). Yes, the kids both have separate rooms, but each room consists of a bed and a sliver of space beside it. A space so narrow even a tightrope walker would struggle to walk along it. That brings us on to the sleeping arrangements. The beds are OK if you are a size zero, but any bigger than this, and well, you’d better get used to not rolling over. On top of all this, although you have your own room, the walls in the caravan are made of paper. So even if it does cross your mind, you can forget about having sex.
But having driven through several counties to reach your new temporary origami home, it feels like a dream house. If you were Barbie, that is, but you’re not. As a result of the cramped living conditions, you end up spending every waking moment away from the caravan. Even if you manage to survive breakfast time “at home”, you can bet your life you’re gonna have dinner and lunch out somewhere, anywhere. Plus, every evening is spent at the clubhouse, playing fucking bingo or watching some godawful covers band. Because even this is preferable to staying in and arguing over what to watch on the retro TV. It is only when you are forced to watch a film that the whole family will enjoy that you unearth another problem. Almost every vaguely entertaining movie contains swearing, drug use, violence or scenes of a sexual nature. Christ, even The Goonies, mentions heroin.