Your Holiday, Your Rules
The sun is out, the sky is blue... but here`s some idiot to spoil the view. No matter where you are, there'll always be someone on your trip who exists solely to test your patience. So here's our guide on how to deal with them.
THE OVERLY-FRIENDLY PAIR WHO SUGGEST “A LITTLE DRINKY” IMMEDIATELY UPON ARRIVAL
HOW IT HAPPENS: You get talking on the plane and find you’re staying at the same hotel. You share a cab and then they insist that you meet up for cocktails at 7pm sharp.
WHY IT’S YOUR FAULT: You let them make eye contact. Also, you failed to observe the first rule of flying, namely that you should always seize the chance to go to sleep because time differences and creaky beds will make you pray for that hour later.
WHAT COULD GO WRONG: Anything. These people will insist on joining you for the rest of your holiday. Suddenly that romantic Stockholm shopping/Barcelona tapas eating/Paris night- rollerblading trip (delete as appropriate) is a messy foursome and a halo of booze fumes.
HOW TO DODGE IT: Always lie about your hotel if someone asks. If stuck, say you’re staying at The Imperial; in the unlikely event they say “We are, too!”, just reply: “The Imperial Hedgehog? The one by the old sex clinic in the red-light district?”
THE CREEPY GUY WHO TAKES MORE THAN A PASSING INTEREST IN YOUR WIFE/DAUGHTER
HOW IT HAPPENS: You were minding your own business when a stranger started talking to you. At first you mistook his heavily accented banter for friendliness, but then you noticed the sweat appearing on his brow and the long, lingering looks at one or both of the ladies in your life.
WHY IT’S YOUR FAULT: You got married/had kids. Nobody made you do it.
WHAT COULD GO WRONG: Any female who has ever had an encounter with an amorous Roman will know that Wandering Hand Syndrome can never be ruled out.
HOW TO DODGE IT: The coward’s way is to ask your beloved or offspring to dress down – think of that girl in Ugly Betty – but it’s better to look the sex pest in the eye and say: “I need someone to accompany my wife/daughter when I take part in tomorrow night’s cage fighting championship bout. My brother was supposed to be doing it, but he didn’t show her enough respect and – well, I think you know what I mean.”
THE FRIEND-OF-A-FRIEND WHO YOU JUST HAVE TO SEE
HOW IT HAPPENS: “You’re going to Marseille? No! I’ve just got to hook you up with Pascal and Claudine! He’s in wine and she runs the école de danse – you’ll love them!”
WHY IT’S YOUR FAULT: You revealed your destination to someone other than next of kin. Modern travel law makes it a given that someone you know will know someone who lives there and that they will believe these total strangers will want to hang out with you. Only ever tell immediate family where you’re going. Inquisitive friends should make do with “France” or, better still, “Europe”.
WHAT COULD GO WRONG: Pascal and Claudine invite you back to their place and show you “the dungeon”.
HOW TO DODGE IT: Don’t phone them when you get there, and later claim to have lost their number. If it’s all arranged in advance by email/ Facebook, find an internet café immediately upon arrival and cancel due to sudden illness or a last-minute change of plan that involves a mock abduction by local “operatives”.
THE SURLY SHOP ASSISTANT YOU JUST KNOW SPEAKS YOUR LANGUAGE
HOW IT HAPPENS: You’re desperate to know if she has it in your size or a different colour – but, no matter how hard you try, saying “brown” with what you think is a Latvian accent is met with a blank expression.
WHY IT’S YOUR FAULT: Because you opted for French at school instead of choosing to study a more challenging language. To make matters worse, you went shopping in the former Soviet Union and neglected to take a phrasebook.
WHAT COULD GO WRONG: You lose your temper and start shouting “brown” ever louder in the hope that she suddenly caves in. The stories of Brits in France screaming “Steak!” at the butcher as he holds up duck liver with a wry grin are legion.
HOW TO DODGE IT: Take whatever’s available. Even if Kate Moss wouldn’t need padding for it, you can always slim into it later. If you’re determined to break the assistant, trick her into speaking your language by suggesting you’ve just seen a shoplifter out back.
THE CHIRPY ASSISTANT WHO CLAIMS HE CAN SPEAK YOUR LANGUAGE
HOW IT HAPPENS: You’re walking innocently through the market when a man with a moustache starts pointing at you and chanting: “Mickey Mouse! Manchester United! Monty Python!” If you’re French, it will be more like: “Sacha Distel! Eric Cantona! Zizou!” Whoever.
WHY IT’S YOUR FAULT: Total failure to blend in. For instance, in Malta timeshare salesmen can spot a Brit from a thousand paces. Obvious giveaways include maps in English, a generally pasty complexion, and – most tellingly of all – a “pram face”. That uniquely English look that marks you out as a tourist as sure as a Union Jack hat and a can of Stella Artois.
WHAT CAN GO WRONG: You acknowledge the merry pedlar and find yourself manhandled into his shop, where the conversation is from hell, and the purchase of a kimono/rug/your name on a grain of rice is your only possible passport to freedom.
HOW TO DODGE IT: We recommend growing a moustache before any foreign travel. And that includes the girls.
HOW IT HAPPENS: Bored of paella or sick to the back teeth of pasta, you wander into the town’s token Irish pub, order a pie and a Guinness and look up at Sky Sports. “Just like being back home, eh?” comes a voice from behind, and that’s it. It’s Don, 64, he’s been here nine years, pays €12 for a pack of bacon and claims it’s worth every penny. He taps you up for football scores and talks longingly about damp walks on windy hills, but makes it clear every 48 seconds that he’s settled now and there’s “no going back.”
WHY IT’S YOUR FAULT: No traveller must ever set foot into an Irish bar. If it is comfort and a whiff of home you seek, try the embassy. If truly desperate, pick up a pay phone and call a work colleague.
WHAT CAN GO WRONG: He will recount the rigours of his life in hideous detail via the tattoos that adorn his arms, chest and neck. Then he will make you sing God Save The Queen before insisting you become blood brothers and denounce Jeremy Clarkson as the antichrist.
HOW TO DODGE IT: Immediately pretend to be Dutch and he will leave you well alone.