Lucy Vickery

Holiday hell

In Competition No. 3067 you were invited to provide a tale of travel misery on behalf of a well-known traveller from the fields of fact or fiction.
The seed of this assignment was a column in the Observer called My Crap Holiday, which invited readers to share travel horrors: inclement weather, devil children, oven-like bedrooms, Arctic bedrooms, wardrobe–like bedrooms — you get the idea.
I had high hopes of this one but it clearly failed to light your fire, producing only a modest haul of entries. D.A. Prince’s Lucy Honeychurch was thoroughly hacked off with Florence: ‘If it wasn’t Cousin Charlotte twitching at every imagined slight and petty irritation or the Ancient Britons gathered over the boredom of boiled meats every evening, it was the Italians, jostling and shoving, loud and bad-tempered. Beastly, at best…’ And Adrian Fry’s Frodo Baggins won’t be recommending Mordor on Trip-Advisor. Otherwise, explorers — Marco Polo, Scott, Shackleton — were a popular choice. The winners, printed below, are rewarded with £30 each. George Simmers nabs the bonus fiver.

We travelled through Hell’s circles, a display
That left me weeping at the sad shades’ plight.
Said Virgil: ‘How about a holiday?’
I gratefully accepted; a respite
From Hellish woe was all my soul desired.
But he took me to streets all neon-bright,
Where staggering men in shorts, all wild and wired,
Drank, vomited and stumbled, swore and fell,
And started fights about the girls they squired,
Which girls would curse and drink and fall as well,
And coarsely hoot when men cried: ‘Show your tits!’
It seemed the most degraded place in Hell.
Virgil explained: ‘This circle’s for the Brits
Who damned themselves on holidays like these.
God, since such creatures merited the pits,
Has made those hols eternal, a fine wheeze.
Now, let me show you where the traitors freeze…’
George Simmers/Dante
Whan that June, with endless days of sun
And ’luminated scrolls promoting fun
Absorbing UV rays upon the sand
Or prancing to a wand’ring minstrel band,
I rode to Bournemouth, where by chance befell
To me a proper holiday from hell.

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