Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Summer holidays: a licence to look ridiculous?

The people who get up in the morning, look smugly at their hotel room, then look down at their sandals and socks and think "blimey, don't I look good today".

With August approaching, most people can finally enjoy the break they've been looking forward to all year. For many though, a holiday becomes a licence to look ridiculous. Except that they don't know it. Let's shed some light.

Airport. With the air conditioning oozing out of the vents, as you queue to check in, you can't help but notice the amount of people carrying a 2-litre bottle of water each. Suddenly they’re all incredibly thirsty. I mean, do you normally walk around your local high street constantly swigging water? No, but the moment you adopt the ‘tourist’ identity, for some unknown reason your mouth magically dries out and water has to sipped every two seconds. I suppose that must explain why, as the queue flows and people push their trolley forward, you hear glugging sounds coming from all directions. No wonder that, once on board, the plane’s toilet turns into the most coveted retreat. Everyone’s desperate for a slash.

Once you get to your destination, it’s obviously time to take a good look around. Bear in mind I’m not talking about beaches. It could be any major square, main road, or quaint alleyway around Amsterdam, Rome, Paris or Berlin. It soon dawns on you that there are tens of thousands of tourists who must have woken up in the morning, looked in the mirror and thought "today I really want to look like an absolute ejit". Here they are, throngs of people donning a straw hat. You walk around a European city and you see all those people in a straw hat, looking like a cross between a medieval pilgrim, a colonial explorer and a plantation worker. Why? Would you wear a bleeding straw hat back home?

Not to mention the sizeable minority who have no trouble showing their sweaty sunburnt torso. Especially British geezers. It doesn’t cross their mind that fellow pedestrians aren’t keen to have swollen beer guts shoved down their face, let alone backs so hairy that they would make a gorilla look like he’s suffering from alopecia.

Next, the bottoms. Why do people walk around in beige/khaki bermuda shorts when they’re on holiday? Whether it’s division shorts, breeches, or slacks…they’re all beige. Or, perhaps, hawaiian, that seems to be the only alternative. Again, who the hell strolls around Altrincham, Walsall, Watford or Sunderland in hawaiian shorts? You cross the channel and you magically want to wear beige bermuda or hawaiian shorts. One of the unsolved mysteries of the globalised world.

And then there’s the icing on the cake: ugly footwear. Again, back home most blokes wouldn’t dream of walking around town wearing sandals or flip flops. Somehow, on holiday, they feel it’s socially acceptable, even though it’s not. The display of ugly Jesus or hiking sandals for all to admire is staggering. That would be bearable if it wasn’t for people with ugly feet insisting on wearing them, perhaps because they want to let their hairy toes and disfigured toenails also gape at the monuments.

To end, of course, there's the legendary sandals/socks combo, essentially what put certain countries on the map. Those people must get up in the morning, look smugly at their hotel room, then look down at their sandals and socks and think "blimey, don't I look good today".

So, yeah, the lad walking down the Champs-Élysées can-of-lager-in-hand may be a Brit or an alky (or both), but as far as distinctive features go, the quintessentially Teutonic binomy sock/sandal is, and will always remain, unbeatable.

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