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​It’s a Crazy, Crazy Expat August Letters from the Canary Islands by Barrie Mahoney

'Writing Inspired by an Island in the Atlantic'

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​It’s a Crazy, Crazy Expat August

It’s a Crazy, Crazy Expat August

The usual August madness has swept across Spain with a vengeance. First of all, it was ‘refreshing’ to see that the reliable Swedish emporium of all things good and wholesome, namely Ikea, haven’t lost their sense of humour in marketing a lavatory brush given the appealing name of ‘Farage’. Sadly, Ikea has since disassociated itself from the toilet brush story and claims it is ‘fake news’, but all is not lost since they are selling a doormat under the name of ‘Borris’, which is the name of a small town in Denmark. It is a great pity about the loo brush though, since I rather like the idea of turning the name ‘Farage’ into a verb and would quite enjoy “faraging” the loo. Forgive me, but I am having an August moment, and I promise that I won’t mention the table (strong and stable) sold under the name of Theresa… Whilst we are on the subject of Ikea, I just wish one could get a decent cup of coffee there and not a mug of luke-warm sludge that appears to have been left over from the weekend. Yes, I know it is cheap, but I really shouldn’t have to strain it through my teeth...

There was the amazing and heart-warming story of the British expat living in Spain (now given the name, ‘Eileen Dover’) who ‘fell off’ a cruise ship during a spin across the Adriatic and spent ten hours in the sea. I will dare to ask the obvious question that BBC reporters carefully omitted from their interview, but everyone really wanted to ask. Was the poor woman so tanked up with gin and tonics that she just slipped off the edge of the ship, or was she pushed? Sorry, it may seem an indelicate question, but I just need to know. In any case, despite thinking that after ten hours bobbing around in the Adriatic she would look rather like a prune, she looked in remarkably good condition and seemed to be very perky when chatting to the press. Maybe I shouldn’t suggest that she looked as if she had returned home after a really good night out with the girls, but I will. Anyway, I am delighted that she was rescued and appears to be making a good recovery from her ordeal. Clearly, she kept well away from sharks.

Some Spanish resorts are so fed up with British holidaymakers that they are posting advertisements and Twitter posts urging tourists to jump off balconies. “Balconing is Fun” the posters declare. Balconing involves jumping into a swimming pool from a hotel or apartment balcony, or climbing from one balcony to another. These sick posters and tweets mock the deaths of tourists engaging in a sport that is apparently growing in popularity amongst some mainly young and impressionable British holidaymakers. This activity often results in an unpleasant death or very serious injury, so is a very unkind way to get the message across.

One tragic incident took place this month when a 20-year-old British holidaymaker tried to “take a poo” over the edge of his balcony before plunging six floors and landing on his head. At the time of writing, the young man remains in a critical condition.

A different approach to unthinking and inebriated holidaymakers is currently being considered by the regional government of the Balearic Islands. The good people of Mallorca, Ibiza and Minorca are so fed up with the chaos that many British tourists bring to their beautiful islands, that they are proposing to ban ‘all inclusive’ drinks, which is a thoughtful alternative to suggesting that holidaymakers jump off their balconies. Maybe this will help to curb Brits from being over enthusiastic drinkers during their holiday? Somehow, I have my doubts that this will work, but it is a kinder alternative.

The story of the elderly British holidaymaker staying in a Benidorm hotel also hit the headlines this month. This holidaymaker did not enjoy her sea, sun and sangria, and reportedly complained that the hotel had too many Spanish holidaymakers staying there and why couldn’t they holiday somewhere else? “I’m not a racist”, she firmly declared. Surprisingly, the tour operator gave her a refund; personally, I would give her a map and point out that Benidorm is in Spain and not the UK. Maybe she had lost her glasses and had planned to holiday in Blackpool instead?

Ryanair also deserves a mention, since an Irish holidaymaker, frustrated following a four-and-a-half-hour delay from Spain, refused to pay for a small tub of Pringles and a bottle of water for his stressed and over tired five-year-old daughter, and was threatened with arrest when they landed. The passenger was entitled to a compensation voucher that would easily have covered the cost of the water and Pringles if he had remembered to collect it from the departure lounge, but he was more concerned about his young daughter. An announcement was made to the entire cabin that police would deal with him upon arrival. The airline rightly commented that they “do not tolerate unruly, disruptive or unlawful behaviour”. Ryanair, please remember to apply this edict on my next Ryanair flight when I am surrounded by abusive and inebriated passengers.

At least EasyJet had the good sense to cancel a flight to Spain at the last minute when they decided that their Belfast crew was too tired to fly to Mallorca. Right, let us all remember that in August, if we are too tired, it is OK not to turn up for work. That goes for doctors, nurses, supermarket staff and hotel receptionists. Clearly, they are sensible people at EasyJet.

There is never a dull moment when watching the Brits at play in Spain during the month of August. Spain is the number one choice for holidays for many Brits and it is easy to see why. The carefree lifestyle, relatively cheap flights and accommodation, easy and cheap access to alcohol and drugs (if you must), beautiful beaches, endless sunshine and friendly locals all add up to a winning combination. The behaviour of Brits on holiday is often hilarious, sometimes embarrassing and occasionally very sad. Soon, August will be over and we can all get back to normal.

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© Barrie Mahoney

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