August. The height of summer. A time when the sun beats down, people are generally nicer to each other, drinkies outside in the street, all that caper. Lovely. Tanned bodies saunter along the fair streets of Edinburgh, as Festival performers liven things up with interesting plays, dancing and other diversions. Fabulous. Except, of course, none of the above is actually happening.
For the past few days (or is it weeks?) it has pissed it down most of the time, breaking only for an hour or two at about 8.30 in the evening when the sun just about makes it from behind a cloud and then goes down. Pubs still sling the odd table and chair outside in the hope that somebody will be stupid enough to want to sit outside in the clammy air and give the place a feeling of being ‘on the continent’. Oh yes, it is like being on the continent all right, just not too sure which one.
As for the Festival performers… well yes there’s plenty of good stuff going on, but I’ve also seen Morris dancers outside the train station, the obligatory bagpipe bloke (doesn’t he have a home to go to?), and over 400 people watching a man tap dance to Michael Jackson songs on a big stage in Princes Street gardens. City of culture? Are you sure?
But, just for a change, it isn’t Edinburgh that is bugging me, at least not this week. It isn’t the scary number of tourists, nor the mad English people with painted faces and purple flares telling me that their show got “five stars in Metro”. (“Big deal,” I retorted, “Metro would give five stars to a McChicken Sandwich.” Obviously not strictly true.) No, what is it then that ails me? Well, I shall tell you. It is the fact I have not had a holiday this year. Again.
I went to a club over the weekend (a good one, don’t worry, NOT a cheese palace) and was stunned to see how brown everybody was. Now, Edinburgh can get warm and sunny, but we’re talking tans of TROPICAL proportions here. ‘Must be sunbeds,’ thought I. But oh no, on getting talking to a few people, I discovered that half of Edinburgh has just got back from holiday, and the other half appears to be going next week. I, as usual, cannot afford a holiday this year, and so keep telling myself (and others, who invariably look stunned when I tell them that I won’t be jetting off to Benidorm this year) that I prefer to have a good summer in the lovely UK and save up for this new flat I’m supposed to be looking for. This is of course, a load of bull.
The truth is, I could never really see the point of holidays, much. I mean it is nice to get away from it all, but I’m not really a sun-worshipper so I don’t know if I see the point of frying on a beach until I turn red. Also, my face frees its freckles at the slightest hint of sun, and even though when I was a child I was told that freckles were a sign of beauty (mainly by other be-freckled adults who wouldn’t win any beauty contests), I’m not convinced. And all this getting rat-arsed and shagging people you don’t know very well… Well, you could do that here in Edinburgh, and it wouldn’t cost you £300 to get home. So you see, in the first instance, I’m anti-holiday. But then…
This all changes when my friends come back from holiday. The other week I came home after a night out, looking rough and feeling freezing at 4.30 a.m. to find my flatmates sitting in the lounge tanned and relaxed eating chips, having just that second returned from the Canaries. As I sat my pallid arse down and tried to ask them how their holiday was (couldn’t really speak at this point), I realised that I would LOVE to go on holiday. A friend came round to see me the other night fresh back from the Canaries (yes, again, very popular with Scots, apparently) and related a story about how someone shouted “Fake tan!” at her as she made her way to my house. She was mortified naturally, but it just goes to show people are so used to seeing lily-white skin round here that they can’t possibly imagine a tan being real. My friend was horrified that somebody thought she must have looked as if she couldn’t afford a holiday.
So, do I want to go on holiday or not? Thinking about it, I would say, at the moment, no. I’m going to stay in bonny Edinburgh and enjoy the Festival (well, I’ll try). I shall place my faith in the Scottish weather and pray that the sun does eventually put that bloody hat on and get his arse from round the clouds that cloak the castle like a fluffy shell suit. I shall eat, drink and be merry and go to the beach, and go clubbing, ignoring the fact that everybody is brown and beautiful and still pissed on Sangria. I shall wave to my friends as they jet off for their holidays and hand them tissues for their noses when they all get flu as soon as they come back. And all this without the remotest pang of jealousy.
Am I really that gutted about having no holiday this year? No, not really… There’s always next year, I suppose. Mind you, that’s a whole year away. And it is going to be a long, cold winter. Well, I suppose I could always head down to Blackpool for a weekend… And I’m going to Paris in November. November? No sun, no tans, no straw donkeys. OK, OK, I give in… pass me that Club 18-30 brochure…