A survivor’s guide to family holidays

Girls in hats and bikinis drinking cocktails © Thinkstock

The columnist Rachel Johnson is off on a family holiday to Greece with her children, but minus her husband. People wonder why, she says in the Mail on Sunday, but there’s a very good reason.

“I happen to think that many men are best avoided on holiday, and that the English male on a beach holiday is a particularly tragic sight. Whereas all the women I know love tanning, chatting and reading by the pool, floating about markets, fondling peaches, sniffing melons, my husband – like many men – does not understand the idiom, the grammar of doing nothing and wearing very little, simply for the sake of it.”

To Sarah Vine, who is married to Michael Gove, the problem with family holidays isn’t so much husbands as families. “Family holidays are a bit like giving birth. Magical in theory; excruciating in practice,” she says in the Daily Mail, having just returned from a gathering of her relations in Italy.

“Don’t get me wrong: I love my family very much. But right now I’m awfully glad most of them live abroad.” By next week that feeling will probably fade, she admits, and she’ll be busy booking flights to do it all again next summer. But her holiday wasn’t “unalloyed bliss”.

Individually, “we’re fairly happy, well-adjusted human beings. But put us all in the same place, add sun, sand and alcohol, and it all goes a bit EastEnders”. (Vine’s father, for example, greeted her with the words: “That diet of yours isn’t going very well, is it?”)

Her only consolation is that everyone she knows is groaning about seeing relations this summer. So, if you’re off to visit your “nearest and dearest”, manage your expectations. “Under no circumstances, for example, should you view the family holiday as something to be enjoyed.”

My own plan is to spend a few days in Scotland – fishing. I’m relieved to say that that doesn’t require much family interaction.

A tweet too far?

The golfer Ian Poulter is in trouble. He tweeted to his 1.7 million followers on Twitter: “Booked six business seats for my wife and nanny to fly home and British Airways downgrade my nanny so Katie has no help for ten hours with four kids”. Poulter, who has been playing in the US PGA Championship in Kentucky, added that it “just doesn’t seem right”.

I imagine Poulter thought his followers would be sympathetic. They weren’t. One tweeter,
Joe Walker, said that some people “aren’t lucky enough to have a nanny. Or fly business class”. Another said: “Children are being killed in Gaza, and you’re crying because your wife has to look after her own”.

Poulter, reported The Times, was quick to defend himself: “But what is wrong with getting what you have paid for?” Not everyone is in such a privileged position, he conceded, but his wife was being unfairly criticised.

“We have the luxury of having some help, as it’s difficult to travel with four [children] on your own.” I agree with him. You should get what you pay for. What you shouldn’t do, if you’re rich, is moan about it on Twitter when you don’t.

Tabloid money… Nats’ case pecked to pieces by the grey goose

• “Being pecked by grey goose Alistair Darling” in a debate on Scotland “is, to quote Labour veteran Denis Healey, ‘like being savaged by a dead sheep’,” writes Trevor Kavanagh in The Sun. But support for Alex Salmond collapsed “after Alistair asked how Scotland would manage without the pound.

He had no answer. Now people in Scotland are being told a typical £138,000 Sterling loan could cost up to £5,200 a year in higher repayments. Watch the Union Flag sprouting outside your average Scottish semi”.

• “Boris Johnson rules out being a member of the cabinet if he becomes an MP next year,” says Ephraim Hardcastle in the Daily Mail. “This means he’ll be able to retain his £250,000 newspaper column.

Adding his MP’s salary of £67,060 to his mayoral salary of £144,000 will put him on £461,060 a year – more than twice the earnings of the prime minister he hopes to succeed, David Cameron. Given that he’ll be part-time, wouldn’t giving all his mayoral salary to charity be a popular gesture?”

• “Ukrainian oligarch Alexander Temerko, via his wind farm company Offshore Group Newcastle, has donated £10,000 to housing minister Brandon Lewis, purportedly to support him as a Tory MP,” says Ephraim Hardcastle in the Daily Mail.

“Temerko, who made his billions with Russian oil giant Yukos before falling out with President Putin and taking refuge here, paid £90,000 for the bust of David Cameron in 2011. The businessman has said he does not expect anything back from the Conservative Party in return for these gifts. What a generous chap!”

• “Wizened Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has been up in a German court charged with bribery,” says Rod Liddle in The Sun. “But he paid sixty million quid to have the charges dropped. Now, there’s an irony in that somewhere but I can’t quite work out what it is. The judge told Bernie that he left court ‘without a stain on your character’. Yep, right you are.”

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