The joys of Summer reunions…
After my parents’ mistaken concept that boarding school and then public school would make a man of me I was forced to rewrite the famous maxim so it goes like this: Summer holidays are the best days of your life.
Back in those black and white days of the early fifties we used to pack up the Rover 75, with everything from picnic baskets to shrimping nets to water wings to packets of Spangles and head to Portsmouth in time to catch the Isle of Wight ferry. Happy days. The sun always shone, the excitement grew as the island got closer, and the prospect of catching up with our old friends was almost palpable.
My sister had many male followers who couldn’t wait to see whether she was any more forthcoming with kisses than the year before. My brother couldn’t wait to see if there were enough chums for sailing races, beach cricket and major sand castle building projects. I simply wanted to see Lance, John Stoneham, Linda, George, Jenny Southwell and a few other young types to find out how tall they’d grown, whether they had braces on their teeth, or if they demonstrated a certain worldliness that proved that their emergent love life at home had got a shaky kickstart.
In the meantime my parents entered into the gossip round the beach huts, the tales of the expensive rented Summer homes (heading worryingly towards £10 a week) and the inevitable early evening drinks parties.
And all this was good for all of us. We knew what to expect from our holiday, we knew who we’d be with, and we knew the layout of the place to the extent that we’d even know where to congregate on rainy days – somebody’s beach hut, with plenty of Horlicks, Eccles cakes and chat.
I’m in Spain with my little family, over sixty years later, at a poolside apartment we have been coming to for seven years. The moment we arrive we are welcomed by all our regular Summertime friends. Sam and Jamie dash off to the pool, the centre of their (and our) social scene. Shy hellos over, the action of the day carries on exactly where it ended last year. Lots of splashing, ball games, promises of meetings later.
We catch up with what’s been happening. “Thought they’d break up.” “She’s put on a bit.” “Ooh he didn’t did he?” Etc.
Early evening drinks are arranged. Gin bottles are produced. Giggles last deep into the warm Summer night.
All very different from those early Isle of Wight days, but somehow all exactly the same too. Continuity. Knowing what you’re going to find on your holiday, and knowing that this set of friends, as far flung as Canada, Denmark and Watford, are enjoying time with their families in a place they have all grown to love. And that beats two weeks in Benidorm, where if you’re lucky you’ll meet quite a nice family that will tell you how Marvin has succeeded in football, Edna’s up the duff, and Eric’s plumbing business has gone up the duff too.
See you next year?