19 August 2002
20 April 2009
11 March 2011
24 September 2012
25 October 2010
24 July 2008
You will find that two families holidaying together will have exhausted most topics of conversation by the time the delayed flight to Palma takes off; that Nikki hates the Spanish and wanted to go to Florida instead (and so did Theo, Olivia and Sebastian); that Theo, Olivia and Sebastian will all use sickbags, very noisily and at regular intervals, throughout the flight; and that Nikki's husband James, a colleague of the Lawyer, will treat the in-flight drinks trolley as his personal minibar.
Arriving at the villa you will find that the six children, who already hate each other, will commence the most awful fist fight over who gets what room; bettered only by their parents' silent but vicious tussle over the master bedroom, which has air-conditioning. We lost that one (just not quick enough in getting our suitcase on the bed); but as the air-conditioning started making a sound like Concorde taking off after 3am we congratulated ourselves in the morning.
The men went to sort out the pool (stagnant), the cooker (non-functioning) and the air-conditioning, and we were left to get through a Spanish grocery store with six children. It was at this point that I realised we were really in for 10 days of hell, when Nikki started holding up tomatoes and onions and enquiring: "Esta organica? Libra de pesticida?"
Nikki rather prides herself on her cooking, and we'd all be sitting around the table at 10pm, heads in our plates from exhaustion, as she laboured over greixonera de peus de porc (really, don't even ask). My children - naturally - turn their noses up at anything you can't eat between the two sides of a burger bun, and devoured the fruit bowl instead (big argument there). Interestingly, Theo, Olivia and Sebastian were none too keen on Nikki's cooking either, but they run the strict 'eat-or-die' rule in their house, and the poor kiddies were served up the same plate of eel stew three days running before they capitulated.
James, however, was shipping so much alcohol that he wouldn't have noticed if Nikki was asking him to eat footwear. He's a bit of a golden boy in the office (very charming; very good at winning pitches), and the Lawyer arranged the holiday mostly, I am quite sure, so that some of his lustre would rub off on us. I can confirm, however, that without a double cognac at 8am, he's no use to anybody; and that by 9pm, five litres of sangria later, he could grope for England.
Perhaps the worst thing was the fact that Nikki actually whistled from the kitchen when she wanted to call the children, with a different pitch for each child. ("What's wrong with shouting?" asked the Lawyer.) The children would whistle back to indicate that they hadn't fallen in the pool and drowned. Subjudice began calling them the Von Trapp children, and yodelling when she caught sight of them, which wasn't often as they'd made friends with children from a neighbouring villa with a functioning pool. Theo, Olivia and Sebastian were judged too weird to be allowed in, and we prided ourselves on our superior parenting skills.
"What's 'isponsabell' mean, Mummy?" asked Liability, towards the end.
"I don't know, darling. Why?"
"'Cos Nikki says you're isponsabell, and that you don't care what we eat, and that none of our clothes are ironed. And that you're too fat for that bikini as well."