Alexander Proud has just returned from a week long holiday so the subject of annual vacations is on his mind. You might think that’s the last thing you want to read about, thank you very much Alexander, but this isn’t a monologue boasting about how fabulous his latest sojourn abroad was, or a moan about the imperfections of the villa. Alexander Proud is going to look at holidays through the lens of the seven ages of man. How his holiday experience has changed from that of a small boy to a larger, wiser man. Just a bit of fun.. In the sun.
Childhood for Alex Proud
My childhood holidays were so far from my kids' access to paradise. In the 70s, says Alexander Proud “you got in a car under cold grey skies and drove nine hours to arrive somewhere else with cold grey skies. We had to play numberplate games and I-Spy. We went to a cold, windy beach and pretended it was 10 degrees warmer than it was.” The only holiday abroad Alexander Proud remembers from his early years was “being smuggled into Germany in the boot of a car because my parents had forgotten my passport.”
By the time Alexander Proud was 16 he was ready to go boldly into the unknown and he set off Interrailing, because well it was the 80s and pre-Gap Yahs in South East Asia. “The difference”, says Alexander Proud, “was that then you genuinely lived on about £10 a day and even then, it wasn’t really possible to live on £10 a day in Europe, especially when you needed to spend £9 of that £10 on beer.” Alexander Proud has fond memories of sleeping on the beach and in parks.
Alexander Proud recalls that as he got older he upgraded from park bench to scuzzy hotel, but the goal was the same: “To get drunk with girls called Olivia who probably lived a 20 minute drive away from you in Surrey.” “Greece” says Alexander Proud “was our Thailand – and, the way the Greek economy is going, it may well be our children’s Thailand too.”
The first holiday you have with your girlfriend is approached with anticipation and fear, says Alexander Proud. “It all feels terrifyingly grown-up and a bit exhilarating and scary, but in the end.. It's genuinely lovely.” Alexander Proud says: “You realise that women enjoy organisation and research, and care about things like clean accommodation, so everything runs like clockwork and you end up in a nice hotel on a quiet beach, rather than waking up in a roach infested semi-brothel and none of your mates are there pressuring you to neck seven pints of beer before 10am.”
As people’s income grows quickly in their early 30s and whilst they still have no kids, they invest more time and money in their holidays and Alexander Proud says they tend to go one of two ways: “there are the insane adventurers: those who climb Mount Everest or trek into the Mongolian deserts, competing over who got the worst frostbite or the most obscure tropical disease. It has a whiff of quarter-life crisis about it.”
Alexander Proud says he went the other way. “Total bliss. Unbelievable, cloying, stifling sybaritic bliss. I remember staying at some incredible hotel in Oman with my wife. It was exquisite. It was so over the top. Each room probably had his and hers basins. It was like freebasing luxury. It was also as far from a screaming child or a dirty nappy as you can possibly imagine. Because that’s what comes next.”
This is where Alexander Proud says it all goes wrong: “you have made it through the first six months. You’ve learned to function on an hour’s sleep a night. You deserve a break. And, actually, it’s worse than being at home.” You spend a week worrying about your precious falling into the pool/ getting sunburned/ screaming the hotel down/getting sick. You’re all sleeping in one room. It’s hot and the kid doesn’t sleep. It’s like being in a pressure cooker that smells of nappies. You wish you were in London (at a Proud Cabaret Show?). You dream of being at your desk. You count down the days until the end of the holiday.”
Father to Teenagers
Alexander Proud says that by this point your kids hate being on holiday with you. They are bored, angry and annoyed by everything you suggest. “Your eldest teenager will sneak out at night to get shitfaced drunk in a bar with strangers and then make themselves violently sick. If you’re lucky they’re home for you to shout at.” says Alexander Proud.
“Don’t worry though, says Alexander Proud, it only gets worse: “Next stop is gap year and the only way you’ll know they’re alive is from their social media brag-posts.”
Alexander Proud notes that most people in their seventh decade nowadays mentally, still seem to think they’re 25, so they fly off on tailored expensive packages to places like Easter Island and Antarctica. They compete to out gap year their own children’s gap year, but do it in 5 star style and with better insurance. Alexander Proud thinks he’d rather stay home and do the crossword, or come up with new fabulously wonderful show ideas.