‘Are we going on holiday?’ asked James.
‘Yes,’ I said firmly, trying to convince myself as much as him. In a moment of extreme rashness a few weeks back I had given him a solemn promise that we would have a holiday this summer, we really truly would.
‘Not a staying at home holiday, with walks and the odd picnic,’ he said, suspiciously. My son, knowing all too well the importance of precision when it comes to promises.
'A proper holiday,’ he insisted.
I asked what, for him, this entailed – precisely - and he thought long and hard.
‘A pool. Swimming in the pool.’
My eyes must have brightened because he said quickly. ‘No, not Tiverton pool. Abroad. Somewhere warm.’
‘So we could go anywhere, if it’s warm?’
‘Well, I’d like to see the odd bit of…I dunno…buildings or something.’
‘Yeah. But not too much.’
So I had a look online and did a good impression of a plumber sucking his teeth. How much??? My accountant is going to be unhappy enough as it is but no need to give the poor chap a hernia. So I cut out all the usual suspects and looked at places that might be considered generally less desirable on account of extreme heat or unstable political situations.
Adrian peered over my shoulder and looked like he was chewing asafetida.
‘Of course, you don’t have to come,’ I said. ‘You could stay and work.’ Expecting a swift rebuttal.
‘I suppose you could be right,’ he said slowly. ‘I have got to finish this book.’
‘What?’ James was incandescent. ‘Just for once, can’t we be a normal family and have a normal family holiday? I want us to go to Turkey. Or Greece. Or Portugal. Not Syria or Afghanistan or Belgium or the Czech Republic. And all of us.’
I sighed. Adrian looked miserable. I knew he was thinking about deadlines, about irate publishers…
‘Look…about this book,’ I said, offering a deal. He looked suspicious, then hopeful, then grinned.
‘You’re like the American Fifth Army,’ he said.
My, my, I'm worthy of a WWII reference? He must be impressed.
‘You’re Patton!’ he continued, a rare smile breaking out over his face. Steady…
But, hey….Patton eh? If that’s the case I get to give rousing speeches, right? So, I say “bollocks” to negativity; to this “can’t do” attitude. I stand up firm and stout and say to all of you who are feeling downtrodden and despairing:
“We are not going to dig foxholes! We are not going to just shoot the sons-of-bitches, we’re going to rip out their living Goddamned guts and use them to grease the tyres of our tanks.
We are going to advance and to keep on advancing regardless of whether we have to go over, under, or through the enemy. We are going to go through him like crap through a goose; like shit through a tin horn! That is all. ”
Okay? So. Right then. Any ideas, men? Where can I find a cheap as chips yet not too ghastly holiday, abroad, with water…for a weary general and her troops?