I saw that the Strength Through Joy Group would be introducing what they have chosen to call the all-abusive holiday. Funny name I thought, as I drifted off to sleep, but given what I had read, I could see people might be tempted. Apparently, building on the experience gained over the past 10 years with all-inclusive deals, they state that they’ve cranked up their offerings a gear, giving holidaymakers who want something different an outstanding deal, priced to entice...
An anonymous spokeswoman for the Group said the idea had been born out of the upsurge in hotel bookings in Malia, by older clientele. This resort in Crete had once been the sole province of the young and foolish but now it seems could also be the in-place for the mature and foolish. A few seasons ago, the Group had sponsored a television show encouraging parents to come and see what their kids were up to as they partied around the town and on the beaches. From the comfort of their hotel’s lounge, where their concerns were damped somewhat by a constant flow of alcohol, a group of around twenty anxious mums and dads sat around a huge LED screen to watch their children engaging in wild activities. By midnight, the parents’ hotel staff realised, to their amazement, that there had been some manoeuvring in the lounge after light bulbs had been taken out. Other things had been taken out too, but staff turned a blind eye to prevent destroying their own libidos.
Building on the shocking revelation that parents are no more inhibited than the kids, the Group hit on this new idea. Although a great deal of survey work was carried out by the Strength Through Joy Group, initially the experiment was a flop...a stimulus was obviously needed, so they put it about that the television programme was continuing. Fortunately, most of the mums and dads thought they were the only ones there by default because their kids were not in Malia, so when management replayed last year’s shenanigans by groups of teens, the parents once more indulged in a free exchange of views and adopted a variety of interesting positions.
Traditionally the woman indoors has done all the research for the family holidays and the man in the street has just gone along with her plans because he’s too lazy to arrange anything himself. The new holidays were well researched and are designed to satisfy what was revealed to be a hidden demand, never before the province of the man in the street or the woman indoors.
Under searching questions from well-briefed interviewers, many of the men in the street, once lured into a hired-for-the-day bar told interrogators that they didn’t give a tinker’s tadger where they went on holiday provided the kids could safely bugger off and do their own thing while he and his wife or nudge-nudge, better still, the wife of the bloke in the next room and wink-wink, next time perhaps the wife from the room after that, could do the things of their dreams.
The males felt they could put it to their women that it would be a marvellous way to stop the otherwise endless drinking and lying around getting burnt at the poolside. Somewhat coaxed they had suggested, once they got into the swing of the possibilities, that each couple at the resort be given two keys, both the same. The idea developed that when they’d drunk their fill, they would forget where their rooms were.
Unbeknown to each of the men interviewed, their wives, mistresses or partners were also quizzed in a similar vein. Most seemed to be of the opinion that the men in their lives were all mouth and trousers, so any opportunity for a little innocent fun was not to be scoffed at.
In order that their holidays should be sufficiently dynamic to encourage repeat bookings, the company requested the first batch of holidaymakers should record their thoughts to qualify for a discount next time. While there have been several excellent responses from the women, regrettably not one so far has been considered printable. However, below is a sample of the heady reminiscences of just two male participants.
‘...your wife, at least you think she might be your wife because she’s similarly ugly, can’t remember the room number either. She tells you she’s sure she knows, but even drunken-old-you know your chalet is not outside the complex’s gate. You order her back inside...protesting and annoyed with yourself, because too late you saw that she was just about to inspect an unprotected crater in the road. After a moment’s further panic you realise she doesn’t even know her name let alone yours, or which room you’re in. Through alcohol-distorted vision, you become convinced she’s not your wife at all because she seems to be speaking a foreign language, which you hope isn’t Welsh.
Anyway, by flailing arm signals, she convinces you to trudge off in the direction of the moon which she believes was over the lake backing on to your chalet yesterday. She is walking straighter than you and covers more ground and you soon lose her, which cheers you up no end until you collapse stupefied. After some time sprawled out on the grass, you manage to stagger on and eventually see a door which is painted the same colour black as yours with a keyhole in the same place, so you try your key and bingo, it fits. You hear snoring, so think ‘Myfanwy’ must be in and asleep. Desperate not to wake her, you tip-toe into the bedroom on your hands and knees and notice three, or is it five hands hanging over the side of the bed along with a similar number of legs. Some more body parts must have sprouted out of that burgeoning, ugly mole everybody seems to notice but her, so you creep on your belly around to the other side of the bed but she must have turned over and grown another leg. You go back to the bottom of the bed on your knees and pull yourself up to join her. You find a big enough hole to slide into comfortably and as usual, you drop off to sleep just as soon as you’ve got inside’.
Another stirring recollection came from a man whose resolve to respond was undoubtedly stiffened by alcohol:
‘...you are awoken abruptly by a hand clenched tightly around your nether regions and wonder if you need a pee. You rub your hands vigorously up and down your face and ponder vaguely how this causes friction to your nether regions...it must be raki magic, or you’ve got your pyjama cord caught up again. You look to see if the cord is in your hands, but it’s not. Hands? Both hands are clearly silhouetted against the moonlit curtains...hang on, if your hands are here in front of your face, whose hand is on your nether regions? You hear a groan next to you...damn! It's a man’s voice and your heart misses a beat. He’s wailing at someone called Martha because he says he’s lost all feeling in his nether regions and believes it must be the booze. You lift the sheets gingerly to find that he has not lost any feeling, but fortunately for you Martha’s navigation in the dark has failed her and you settle back hoping that she won’t realise she is on unfamiliar terrain until you contentedly roll over’.
The management was amazed by these customer stories about their all-abusive holiday experiences and asked each participant if he or she would be likely to recommend such a fortnight’s indulgence to other couples. Without exception they all said they would.
‘Damn right,’ said pyjama man, ‘but only if you put some decent curtains on the windows...it doesn’t really help the experience to come to a satisfactory conclusion when moonlight pours in the window and you find that Martha is not the little blonde whose head is on your shoulder, but the gripping mammoth kneeling in front of you’.
Welcome to a special post where I have the opportunity to introduce five other Greek-biased bloggers via a Christmas blog hop:
I rejoice that I live once again in a predominantly Christian country. I was born and raised in the erstwhile Christian country of England, part of the Christian union of The United Kingdom. I went to Sunday church services with my Gran, albeit I was encouraged to silent reverence during the sermon by a seemingly endless supply of hard sweets she always had to hand.
I went to Sunday School and collected big colourful stamps in a booklet, which told of the Bible stories. Later I became a choir boy in our local church, which was little more than a big shed with an altar and other accoutrements including an organ that I frequently pumped. I say frequently, even though I was only called upon to pump monthly, no, what I really mean is infrequently. Distracted, my pumping was not regular enough to maintain a constant note and stern looks from the organist were necessary to keep me heaving on the handle, which doubtless caused our choir master to consider me as a candidate for crucifixion...a latter-day martyr to Handle’s messiah.
I was confirmed into the Church of England, sang hymns in school assemblies and went carol singing as a Boys’ Brigade member in an organised group maintaining the picture-postcard traditions. I married in a large parish church by licence granted by a surrogate bishop. My two sons were christened into the Church. My parents and In-laws had Christian services on their demise, as did my brother who died accidently, aged 17.
Then I turned my back on my faith and took up residence on the ‘naughty step’. Had I stayed rooted to this haven of meditation and repentance all would have been well, but my naughtiness went roaming and I suffered roaming charges which divided our family.
So what inspired me to pen this piece? It was the entreaty of a fellow Crete-based author to contribute to a Festive Blog Hop. I mused on the word ‘festive’ and tried to remember when it became a dumbed-down euphemism for Christmas. I reflected on the continuing watering down of the term Christmas so as to appease those that do not share the faith. I considered seasonal greetings cards bearing the legend ‘Happy Holidays’ and pondered on innocent bygone days and a vanished belief that things would continue forever unchanged. In some ways this abrogation of faith has come home to roost, we do not know what we believe in; we have few anchors to hold us steady in a gathering storm.
Six years ago we moved to Crete; it was October and we had decided that we wanted solitude, but the solitude of Frangokastello was more like seclusion, I felt a bit like the hermit in ‘Life of Brian’. We were not surprised that there was no celebration of Christmas there...sheep and rocks aren’t into that sort of thing. Yet having eventually moved to a part of Crete where there are more people, it was surprising to see that there was no significant celebration of Christmas in the churches and that Easter was the main event.
Periodically we are honoured to be invited to church services held at tiny, remote Orthodox outposts dotted around the general Lasithi area. It is heartening to see so many people frantically crossing themselves, as if seeking absolution. Long before the ‘after-celebrations’ get underway and my mind becomes befuddled by the illiberal amounts of raki I am forced to imbibe, I focus on some old dear swathed in black and try to imagine what awful thing she believes she did that demands absolution. As I watch her penance, my mind drifts back to myself as a well-placed choir boy gazing lustfully at some smooth-skinned maiden casting her eyes innocently at the cross on the altar, as if seeking forgiveness. Frequently at these far-flung churches, I now find myself craving absolution for those thoughts I harboured of giving the fresh-faced young girl something to feel guilty about, when I should have been concentrating on singing a reverential hymn. Maybe the old Greek lady, whose hand moves as if swatting flies, is also reflecting on the smooth-faced actions of her youth, but black-clad in piety, it is hard to imagine she has any regrets.
Back along, there was barely any secular celebration in Crete...even on the Lasithi plateau when it snowed, there were no snowmen let alone snowwomen to marvel at. Yet more recently all around the district, there appeared strings of light and illuminations welcoming people to many villages. It has become even more widespread with the Kronia Pola signs and the ubiquitous manger scenes everywhere. This year, I’ve noticed that to greet visitors, our village has a blow-up snowman dressed in a traditional Santa outfit.
On a visit to Jumbo, Heraklion I was truly amazed to see the familiar representations of ‘Christmas’ occupying so much space. So although Crete has not really celebrated Christmas religiously, it is certainly being encouraged by the ‘Christmas Industry’ to spend it commercially. Maybe it won’t be long before we see houses here weighed down with those lights, overgrown baubles and illuminated Santas waving from the roof tops...that very 'tack' that I was pleased to escape from six years ago.
Yes, I can say that Christmas here is certainly entering into the festive phase. Yet I would counsel Orthodox Christians from taking the celebrations too far, because as sure as night follows day the festivities, the holidays, the decorations and the presents will become the main event while the celebration of the birth of Christ will surely become as forgotten here as it is ‘back home’.
If you'd like to visit more blogs celebrating Greek Christmas themes, then take a hop through the list below. If you could leave a comment on one or more of the blogs, we would all be delighted.
My First Greek Island Christmas by Jennifer Barclay
Sugared Almond Biscuits (Κουραμπιέδες) by Amanda Bidirini
Kritsa Christmas by Yvonne Payne
My first Greek Christmas' by Julie Ryan
Beers with Santa on Tilos by Ian Smith
I have just read a piece by David Hall, called ‘Alienating Alias’ on his blog. An interesting slant on the fringes of the transgender topic, I thought. Perhaps you should read it before you continue, but if you don’t have time, he questions if authors are able to write in the guise of the opposite sex.
My eye opener to the opposite sex was not like his, behind the bike shed, but the long grass of a nearby field where five year-old ‘YSMY’ & ‘ISYM’ (I’ll leave you to work those out for yourselves) soon gave way to ‘Doctors and Nurses’. In those gloriously politically incorrect 1950’s days, doctors were always male and nurses always female, so who were we kids to argue?
But we are talking mostly about physical differences that, give or take, are easily discernible, although there have been some tragic errors of identification in the maternity wards. Even in adulthood there are some peculiarly under- or over-developed bits that might raise an eyebrow but spectacularly fail to raise actual pulsing interest.
It seems to me that when it comes to writing, it is not the ‘bits’ you are sitting on as much as the ‘wits’ between your ears that matter as you thump the keyboard. Just as we are physically constructed in shades of grey, so we are wired in round about ways. Some men are more able to think as women do and some women amaze with male perspective. What makes some men fancy other men or women other women? ‘It’s not just the bits, it’s the mind that controls them’ (That fits into a song quite well...know the one?).
So, to suggest that no man can write like a woman or vice versa doesn’t wash with me. What about George Elliot who was determined not to be a prejudged writer.
I have known ‘men-fancying men’ and ‘women-fancying women’ (I eschew the G word) whose brains are more akin thinking-wise to the very opposite that their body parts suggest. However, there are women whose attention is drawn to opposites and men who are not at all interested physically in other men who are not afraid to demonstrate a side of their thinking that does not accord with their physique.
I wanted to write a chick-lit, I thought. I had never read one and believed they were books written by women for women. I read, correction...glanced at, one or two and decided they could hardly be described as books and the writers barely described as full grown women. Yet what of the readers? Now this is the interesting bit; the ‘books’ I sampled very unscientifically, followed a clear theme, yet could draw a range of readers irrespective of their circumstances. Thus I could see a high-power female executive reading one to drag herself back into contact with her threatened feminine side, while the same undemanding tale could be read by a dumb blonde, just to stay in contact with her dumb side. Just like the ‘man for all seasons’ there are ‘books for all reasons’.
Anyway, I decided that it wasn’t a chick-lit I wanted to write. The terminology had led me astray, just like little Jenny in that field of long grass. I wanted to write a book for the professional woman, whether she be single, divorced, separated, grass widowed, cuckolded or whatever else. I didn’t take a name like Penny Drop, I wanted to stay connected to my burgeoning masculine side, so R.G.Stevens (for Richard Gordon) became Argy Stevens, complete with suitable photograph and that is the name on the cover of ‘Harry the Louse’....a book for the thinking professional woman. Gratefully, I must record that yesterday to my surprise, she posted a wonderful review, dahling!
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