13 August Me and Mr Young are going to Edinburgh, to the Fringe, to see Tom in his comedy improv show, Word:Play. Excitingly, we are travelling first-class on the train, with free food and drink and a real, actual seat, with arm rests and everything. The customer service is a little lacking, which is disappointing. I wasn’t expecting a personal butler, but I don’t think a request for a second helping of sandwiches and another glass of white wine really calls for raised Scottish eyebrows and a look of shocked disbelief, plus a snort of derision. I am so embarrassed, I have to go without the slice of carrot cake with frosted icing that I’d got my eye on and have to content myself with muttering sporran/haggis-based insults in a childish sort of way once the steward’s out of earshot. Never mind. Tom is brilliant. He is a definite star. I weep quietly with pride and have to physically restrain myself (as in clenching my teeth and gripping the seat of my chair) from telling everyone in the row behind me ‘that’s my son, you know’. (It’s the school nativity play all over again.) High on pride and excitement, me and Mr Young go on to see another show after Tom’s, and return, exhausted, to our Holiday Inn Express after midnight! Yes, I’ll say that again, after midnight! We are party animals!
15 August One o’clock in the morning, and me and Mr Young are still party animals and still awake with our eyes open and in a music bar, waiting to see our twelfth show of the festival. Yes, twelfth! In a music bar! With young people! We are so hip and trendy I feel like telling everyone just how hip and trendy we are. Although I know perfectly well that they are just wondering what we are doing up so late and shouldn’t we be sitting in fleecy dressing gowns somewhere and drinking Horlicks? We see the show, which is in a grubby basement and has an audience of about thirty people, although as celebrity comedians Rhod Gilbert and Jon Richardson are there, it's obviously the comedy show to see. I pretend I haven’t recognised them just to be über-cool, but as they don’t notice me not recognising them, this turns out to be pointless. (Not for the first time, I might add. And am.) We go back to our hotel room and carry on the night’s carousing with a cup of Bovril for Mr Young and a herbal tea for me. We are still party animals, although the animals are now sloths.
16 August Back from Edinburgh and nearly off to Majorca; in between, we squeeze in a trip to John Lewis for some holiday essentials. I admire the long and immaculate nails of Caroline, the sales lady, as she taps away on the till keyboard. They are very tappy nails.
“They’re just stick-on,” she says. “£5 a pack.” I’m very impressed. My own nails are stubby little things, on the end of my stubby little fingers (they’re practical hands, my mother used to tell me in a half-hearted effort to cheer me up. It didn’t really work. As it turns out, I’m not even practical.) My practical nails even refuse to all grow at the same rate at the same time and form an orderly line. Instead, they jostle about like the unruly front row of the assembly on the first day back at school. So I rush back to find Mr Young in menswear and make him come with me to look at all the little packs of shiny French manicured nails.
He is sceptical, I can tell. “I’m sceptical,” he says, looking sceptical. “Well, just come and look at Caroline’s nails, then!” I say, and drag him over to the counter where she’s working, still tapping away at the keys with her immaculate nails. Both Mr Young and Caroline look embarrassed, but this doesn’t put me off. I am a woman on a mission. For the first time in my life, I see the possibility of long, tappy nails on the end of my stubby fingers. “Now look, aren’t they lovely?” I say, pointing at her nails. “Well, yes,” he says (admittedly, under the circumstances, he has no option but to agree). “I’ll buy some then,” I say. Again, he has to agree. I can hardly wait. As soon as we get home, I stick them all on and pose in the mirror with many exaggerated hand gestures.
By the time I go to bed, only two have fallen off. After performing a few mundane and necessary actions (doing up buttons, scratching my ear, operating the tin opener, using the remote control) I realise that my new nails – even though I’ve bought the extra short ones – are a little bit too long. In short, (pun not really intended; just a little added bonus), they are just a little too tappy. I am clearly not a tappy nail person. I am more of a blunt stubby nail person. So I cut them all down until, well, until they’re about the same length as my own nails. But at least they all look orderly. In a practical sort of way.
18 August We are off to Majorca today. We are flying Ryanair, who charge for absolutely everything on top of the actual flight itself (‘Intending to breathe while in flight? £2.50 per intake, and an additional £3 for each exhalation’), so we are cunningly just taking hand luggage. This is something of a challenge for a whole week’s holiday, but I manage it quite easily. Mr Young, however, is not as resourceful as me. To be fair, who could be? I set an impossibly high standard. Or I’m just impossible, as Mr Young would have it. (Occasionally, I allow him to make his own rather banal jokes. It keeps him happy.) Mr Young’s case is bulging with so much unnecessary holiday clothing that the extra penalties Ryanair could impose would keep them in Marmite for a year (why Marmite? I don’t know. I just hate Marmite so it seems apt.) Patiently, we go through his case together and I encourage him to take out a few items so that eventually the case shuts without bulging. (Can I make a rather tortuous joke here about this being an open and shut case? Can I? Sadly, no. I have neither the time or the inclination. You see, that’s the sort of thing Ryanair does to you. It saps you of all good humour. Just as well. You’d probably incur some sort of penalty for boarding with an excess of good humour.)
But we do manage to board without being charged any extra fees – ha! Take that, Ryanair! Enjoy your Marmite-less toast for the next year! – and arrive in Majorca two hours later.
Our apartment overlooks the port, and there are restaurants and bars everywhere. Me and Mr Young unpack and stroll (because that’s what you do on holiday, you stroll. I never stroll at any other time) down to the promenade and eat tapas and drink wine. I have ice in my white wine, although I nearly have milk because I ask for vino blanco con leche instead of vino blanco con hiello, which Mr Young thinks is hilarious. I think it’s only mildly amusing and wonder whether Mr Young would like a couple of patates frites rammed up his nose.
25 August We are flying home today. Only two more nails have fallen off, but this is probably because I’ve done nothing this week apart from splash about feebly in the sea, read books, drink quite a lot of vino blanco con hiello and eat quite a few plates of tapas. (Not the actual plates, of course, just the tapas on them.)
It has been astonishingly hot. Even the Majorcans have been complaining about the heat. I can’t believe that Mr Young thought his desert boots might come in handy for the 'chilly evenings'. I can’t believe I packed a cardigan ‘just in case’. But I am not sunburnt at all (although Mr Young is, which is mysterious because he has been wearing a t-shirt and sitting in the shade. But then he is naturally pale and I am naturally dark. To put it another way, I am a lovely golden colour and he is pink and white. As a visual guide, I am the milk chocolate mousse to his strawberry cheesecake. A pleasing pudding selection for anybody’s buffet table, in fact.)
Very exciting journey home. a) Ryanair find a way of charging us €60 each to print out our return boarding passes. Just to elaborate, that’s a total of €120 for pressing the print button on their computer and collecting the printed boarding passes five seconds later. Mr Young did explain that there was no facility to actually print out the return boarding passes when he tried to do this online, but it was to no avail. Damn Ryanair and their sneaky ways. That’s going to keep them in Marmite for a decade (and serve them right).
b) I have a fight (dramatic description) / verbal altercation (accurate description) with a woman on the plane who calls me Trash! And it’s not an affectionate nickname, either. Her exact words are: “Well, I should have known; if you’re going to fly Ryanair, you end up sitting next to trash like you!” I am shocked (and secretly impressed; I have been called many, many things, but Trash has never featured before! When I fulfil my dream to become a rap artist, this is definitely going to be my moniker.) I call across to Mr Young, who is sitting on her other side and pretending to read his book; “Did you hear what she called me? She called me Trash!” Gamely, he puts down his book and asks her where her husband is (although everyone knows he’s sitting/hiding a few rows in front). “Why?” she expostulates (I’ve always wanted to use that word but have never found the right moment, so this is something else I have to secretly thank her for). “Because he and I are going to have a few words when we get off this plane,” says Mr Young with a quiet and thrilling menace.
(Background; the woman and her three noisy and badly behaved children, plus her long-suffering husband, have left it too late to find seats so that they can sit together. Me and Mr Young have paid extra (a week’s worth of Marmite) for priority boarding so that we can sit together. She complains so much, and so loudly, that she makes a stewardess cry and I very, very kindly give up my seat so that she can sit next to Mr Young with one of her children next to her. She continues to expostulate and complain loudly to everyone around her, so that two more stewardesses cry, which makes a male steward very angry. (All the rest of us are bonding like mad and muttering amongst ourselves about her unreasonableness. We’re practically exchanging email addresses and making Facebook friends by the time we get off the plane.)
Eventually, emboldened by a £10 cup of Ryanair instant coffee, I ask her why she didn’t get priority boarding, and perhaps she should think about it in future. This leads to a lot more expostulating. Her child is screaming and kicking. This is when she comes out with the Trash comment. The stewardesses cry all over again and my fellow passengers are outraged.)
c) Most thrilling of all – when we land, the police are waiting for her at the bottom of the steps! Me and Mr Young have an entertaining drive back from Birmingham Airport, imagining all the possible scenarios she might be going through when questioned by three policemen in stab jackets, and the inevitable humiliating aftermath. “Mummy, why were you sitting in the back of that police car?” “Mummy, why are your fingers all covered in black ink?” “Daddy, where’s Holloway and why have we got to visit Mummy there? Has it got a swimming pool and a waterslide?” And so on. The whole experience is nearly worth €120, in fact.
26 August I am busy trying to compose a rap song for my new persona as Trash.
Me and Mr Young, we been travellin’ on a plane It’s Ryanair not Qantas so I’m aiming to complain But there’s a ho’ (i.e. female passenger) right next to me, who’s kicking up a fuss So I intervene, quite rightly, as her complaints are unjust (needs work as it doesn’t quite scan properly here) Then the police, (not sure of the rap word for police, but I don’t imagine it’s very complimentary) they turn up and arrest her sorry ass (obviously, not an apologetic donkey) And justice is done (dee dum dee dum dee dum) at las’. A work in progress, admittedly, but I think I could be ready for the Fringe next year.
(As a fall-back position, my other show is going to be called: The Middle-Aged Woman who Forgets Things! Tell her anything! She’ll instantly forget it! Give her your car keys! She’ll instantly lose them!
Reviews: “I would have laughed ‘til I cried if I’d bothered to go and see her…” Mr Young. “It was complete rubbish…” Everybody else.)