It dates me, I know it does, but there is a generation who, at this time of the year, find themselves singing the Cliff Richard song from his 1963 film Summer Holiday. It’s now that time of the year:
We’re all going on a summer holiday
No more working for a week or two.
Fun and laughter on our summer holiday,
No more worries for me or you,
For a week or two.
Children, especially in the UK will be struggling over exams and the summer holiday is a chance to regroup and gather themselves before they return to school officially one year older. It’s a myth that the holiday was to release the children from school to go back to the fields to help with a harvest. The break was far too early.
Holidays have a much longer history.
Holidays derive from the ‘holy day’ and in the Middle Ages, where this story starts, whatever you might think the Church of England was always up for a party. There were nine Principal Feasts, three Principal Holy Days, and 26 Festivals –which is not too different from today’s annual leave allowances.
While the Middle Ages’ middle class may have gone on a pilgrimage to Walsingham to pray for fertility, the rich might drift off down to Rome or Jerusalem the forerunner of the Grand Tour which was the 18th century top of the range package tour.
Getting away is a key part of the Summer holiday. In the late 1950s, we would drive from London to Devon to stay in a farmhouse close to the sea. It would have been idyllic if only I had any interest in farm animals. One of the main beneficiaries of this urge to travel was the garage owner. My father’s car had to have a full service before this 600-mile round trip.
As the 1960s progressed, and Cliff was in full song, the lure of exotic foreign climes was urgent. The car was more reliable, and we headed off to France towing a caravan. It was in France’s Riviera, under the hot moon at the beach disco that my passion for foreign women first showed. If only I could remember her name I would give a shout out to that French girl who made my week as we danced to Percy Sledge’s When a Man Loves a Woman. It was more when a boy loves a girl.
Travel and the holiday have become ubiquitous. We all do them: teenage trips to Magaluf, a cultural cruise to Viking Fjord of Norway and still the Devon beaches. Getting away for those 14 summer days is deep in our culture.
Be prepared for co-workers to start complaining. ‘I haven’t been away yet and I need to get away. I need a break.’ will be the chat over mid-morning coffee.
I am ahead of you all. Paraphrasing the words of Willie John McBride, the captain of a British rugby team playing in South Africa who initiated a mass brawl, I am going to get my retaliation in first.
Summer has come early. Over the next two weeks, I will be with Lucinda and the Mighty Bertie before flying off to be with Sasha for a week.
I am going to put down my pen, refresh and attempt regeneration. I may find the temptation to write irresistible, but my plan is to return to this task around about June 11, saving you all the pressure of reading my thoughts. If I do resist the irresistible it will be no more than an odd, one-off post.
So, until then I wish you all a good two weeks and don’t feel too jealous of me. Your two weeks will come but, in the meantime, get to the shower, open up your vocal chords and join in the sing-a-long.
We’re going where the sun shines brightly
We’re going where the sea is blue.
We’ve all seen it on the movies,
Now let’s see if it’s true.
Everybody has a summer holiday
Doin’ things they always wanted to
So we’re going on a summer holiday,
To make our dreams come true
For me and you.
For me and you.