Monday, November 17, 2008

Holidays - Who'd Have Them

I'm on holiday. I don't hesitate to share this with you because, even if you know where I live, I have an alarm and a house-sitter.

I also have a pack of ferocious Rottweilers who'll no doubt be starving by now as the 83 year-old house-sitter will have forgotten to feed them.

Some of this last sentence is untrue, although I do have a highly-trained attack guinea pig.

I'm not sure what holidays conjure up for you - probably a mixture of sun, sand, rest, culture, relaxation and laughter. For me it's usually sunburn, sunstroke and an opportunity to embarrass myself in a foreign country.

Once, in Turkey, I combined two of these misfortunes by managing to obtain a pure white handprint on an otherwise sunburned belly.

To this day I have no idea how I did this, and I unfortunately have very big hands.

The local restaurant which we'd attended on a regular basis (why do British people pick one bar or restaurant and stick with it?) recommended Greek yoghurt for sunburn.

They'd previously advised the same remedy for diarrhoea, with similar success.

Possibly I was eating it or rubbing it on for the opposing symptoms, however I figure that if I lived and worked in a holiday resort I might be similarly inclined to take the p**s out of the tourists.

As someone who has worked in sales at various points in my life, you'd imagine that I'd be good at that other holiday pursuit, haggling. Sadly this is not so. I think I once mortally offended an OAP selling belts on a Portuguese market stall by offering her less than the ticket price.

She looked mightily unimpressed as she snatched it from my hands. Naturally I tried the trick of turning my back and walking away, and ended up with no new belt.

I'm never really sure why we're encouraged to haggle when abroad. It's not as if we can usually speak the language that well, or at all.

Like most English people I speak one language, badly. I feel pretty guilty about this, but generally fail to do much about it.

When I'm on holiday I try to learn the right words for 'hello', 'thank you' and 'beer'. It can frequently take me the best part of two weeks to learn these and I can often get them mixed up. Asking for two thank-yous in a bar doesn't usually work too well.

Once, in Austria, I decided to test my impeccable knowledge of Japanese on some other tourists.

Unfortunately my impeccable knowledge of Japanese had been learned from my Cheap Trick At Budokan album (yellow vinyl, possibly slightly racist in retrospect?).

What I thought was 'hello' (dom arigato - phonetically anyway) was actually 'thank you very much'. They laughed. They may well have been Chinese anyway.

I was also fond of amusing the residents of Germany.

At the time I was trying to impress my partner (used here because I can't remember if it was before or after we got married) with my sub-standard secondary-school Deutsch. The bulb in our bathroom had blown and as I eloquently explained to the staff: 'Das lamp in die badenzimmer ist kaputt'.
I'm still reasonable confident that this is roughly correct, however they looked at me like I'd gone out - rather than the bulb. It was never changed.

Possibly - as in most UK hotels - the staff were from somewhere else entirely. German is a terrible language to learn, though. I really wish we'd learned something more useful at school.

English perhaps.

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