Foot-and-Mouth is forcing the Lawyer to put his hands deep in his pockets for our Easter holiday, something he finds painful at any time of year.
With much of Britain out of bounds, the cheap Welsh cottage we’d set our hearts on (well, the Lawyer’s heart was set on it, anyway) has gone to the wall, and we’re looking further afield. The Lawyer was hoping for camping in Northern France, until diseased sheep started popping up over there too, and now the field is wide open.
We’ve had a bid for Disneyland from the two youngest, and a counter-bid of Agia Napa, worryingly, from Subjudice. She claims to have discovered clubbing, even though (to my knowledge) she’s not been in one yet. However, she can reel off the names of DJs as if they were bosom buddies and discourses knowledgeably on jungle and hard house. I’m frightened to ask what she knows about drugs in case she asks, “What are you after?” At her age I was still making knot rugs. I fear it can only get worse.
I’m hoping for Madeira – lovely flowers in spring – but the Lawyer is now casting his eyes south, towards his sister’s flat in Camberwell, conveniently empty over Easter. She is putting her personal injury wins to good use and pedalling across Nepal (well, it takes all sorts), and the Lawyer has visions of drifting around the Tate Modern while I drag the kids around the museums.
I have refused. I hated the Planetarium and Madame Tussaud’s and even (heretic that I am) the Natural History Museum when I was a kid, and I don’t see why I have to go again now, when I’m of an age to have my wishes listened to. Besides, the children behave appallingly as soon as you put them in front of a glass case (where they start making squashed faces and writing swear words with my lipstick), or anything remotely breakable (I’ve had to put more than one life-sized plaster cast of an Anglo-Saxon peasant back together with nothing stronger than Plasticine and nail varnish, which was all I had in my handbag).
Besides, as I pointed out to the Lawyer, a week in London wins no points when you’re playing the holiday destination game. In this game, he and his colleagues have to make ludicrous claims for their annual holiday, to impress the managing partner with their initiative, courage and ability to juggle school fees with inadequate salaries. Goa and Thailand are extremely old hat now; you’d need whale-watching in the Antarctic or bungee jumping in Burma to impress the old man, who spends his holidays half-drowning off the Outer Hebrides on a 40-foot yacht. (His wife, sensibly, spends the holidays at a spa resort in Bermuda.) There is even a splinter group of lawyers studying for their Yacht Master qualification in the hope of being invited aboard. The Lawyer, who gets seasick on the car ferry, is not part of this elite group. He’s more a hiking man.
He was turning over the children’s small walking boots, and lamenting that his chances of dragging them up Snowdon looked slim indeed this year, when I saw his mouth frame the horrifying words: “But what about the Eiger? They won’t have diseased sheep there.”
I whipped open the paper at the theatres page. “The Number 36 goes from Camberwell into the West End, doesn’t it?” I asked. “What’s our chances of getting returns to My Fair Lady?”