|The NY Times has a shorter list.|
So, I was sitting in Adrian’s office waiting to talk to BBC Hereford & Worcester about letter-writing. Why wasn’t I in my own office? Cos I don’t have a phone in mine – well I do, but it doesn’t work – it sounds like someone sunk it in a bucket of water. So, even though he’d just come back from London, I turfed the poor guy out and was sitting there waiting for the radio people to call when I saw this piece of paper stuck to the side of his desk. And laughed out loud cos it was something I’d sent him months back. See, he does a lot of travel writing and usually asks me to cast an eye over it, to edit, before it gets sent off.
And he’s wise to do that cos, IMO, every writer (no matter how good, no matter how brilliant even) should get edited. And I’d told him that he got a bit clichéd from time to time and had sent him a list of banned words and phrases (which, to be fair, I’d cribbed from a travel editor of my own). But it made me laugh, as it always does, cos really – you see these clunkers again and again.
So, for any wannabe travel writers or bloggers out there – here you go…the ones to miss.
A city of contrasts
Winding cobbled streets
Cobbled streets in general, not just the winding variety
Vivid hotpotch of colours, smells and sounds
Tolkeinesque (as applied to any vaguely medieval defensive architecture)
Innate sense of rhythm
Crystal clear - as in water
The Bounty Ad
Under the stars
Traditional hearty cuisine
Fed and watered
Magical Mystery Tour
Eco-friendly or anything friendly for that matter
Subtropical (unless you actually mean subtropical, which invariably you do not)
Je ne sais quoi
Nothing but the sound of waves
Leaving the modern world behind
My own/your own/our own slice of paradise
Any reference to ‘attentive yet unobtrusive’ staff, butlers, waiters etc
As far as the eye can see
Powder white sand
Rich and famous as in ‘attracting the rich and famous’
|Ah, those cobbled streets...|
And so I did the interview, resisting the urge to see how many of these I could drop into the conversation and then, as I put down the phone, my eyes fixed on a huge great paperweight thing in the shape of a celestial mountain. Ah yes. He’d been in London to attend the Czech Republic’s tourism awards and had won a gong. ‘What’s the prize?’ I’d said, hoping he’d say a few grand.
‘A trip for two to Prague,’ he’d said. ‘I can show you the city.’
Ah yes, the picturesque winding cobbled streets. The Tolkienesque architecture. The traditional hearty cuisine. The city of contrast with its priceless treasures. Except...
‘You mean drink beer,’ I’d said.
‘No,’ he’d said. ‘Well, not just drink beer. There are…’
His brow had furrowed.
‘Wouldn’t you rather take Keith?’ I’d said. And watched the thought flicker over his forehead.
‘So,’ I said (back in the near past now, back in the office, just after the interview). ‘What happened about the trip? You've gone quiet on it. What’s the hotel like?’ Five-star luxury? Attentive yet unobtrusive staff, butlers, waiters etc.?
His brow furrowed so hard it folded over. ‘Ah yes, the hotel.’
‘Huh? Oh don’t tell me. It’s the beer hotel par excellence. Or right next to the best timewarp bar or something. Or there’s an obligatory quintessential brewery tour each day?’
‘Er, no,’ he said. ‘Actually, it’s not even in Prague.’
‘So where is it?’
‘About thirty miles out,’ he said and then added with a look of woebegone misery. ‘And, er…it’s a spa.’
Oh my! Spa heaven. Or rather, my pampering paradise; hubby's untrammelled nightmare.