Holiday Hell-Raisers

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Holiday Hell-Raisers

Words by Mr Stuart Husband

8 June 2016

From The Gadget Guy to The Sexy Beast, the five archetypes you want to avoid on vacation.

“Fun and laughter on our summer holiday,” crooned Sir Cliff Richard in his celebrated song of the same name, “no more worries for me or you.” We’re not sure where Sir Cliff spent that particular vacation – an uninhabited Hebridean island, perhaps? – but experience regrettably suggests that, depending on the types you encounter at the beach, boardwalk or boutique hotel, your worries may be only just beginning. In the following guide, MR PORTER tips you off as to who you might want to shun in the sun, from feral families to charged-up flashpackers.

You’ll find him lying by the pool, his skin a shade of coral turning slowly to angry puce, his belly distended, an umbrella-festooned cocktail never far from his fleshy fingers. At the hottest point of the day, he may slide off his lounger into the water, seal-like, displacing the majority of the pool’s contents as he goes. While there, he may attempt to mount an inflatable lilo. At this point it would be wise to look away, unless you wish to spend the remaining nights of your holiday in insomniac ferment, gaping at the ceiling fan like Mr Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now while mouthing the words, “The horror! The horror!”

Where you see spontaneity, he sees anarchy. Where you see relaxation, he sees moral lassitude. Just because it’s a holiday (and who came up with such an egregiously wanton concept, anyway?), there’s no reason not to approach it with the same military-precisioned, every-increment-accounted-for rigidity that rules the rest of his life. This means itineraries plotted, print-outs issued, watches synchronised, a 6.45am PROMPT start to grab the best sunbeds by 8.57am, a 17.14pm PROMPT exit from the pool to be sure of heading up the line for the dinner queue, and Official Stopping Points definitively demarcated on all excursions. After all, disorder causes stress, and holidays should always be stress-free, right?

Actual hands-on lived experience is so last century. Instead, the flashpacker “creates mediated content” in a thousand different ways, filming on his GoPro while taking stills on his DSLR for simultaneous posting on Instagram, while manoeuvring his iPhone into position on his selfie stick and tweeting his exact coordinates with the aid of his GPS, while ensuring everything’s backed up on his PDA. The quest here isn’t for the perfect beach or the ultimate café terrace; it’s for a Wi-Fi hotspot with outlet capacity to accommodate the approximately 217 battery packs and chargers that keep his very existence powered up.

It’s possible that you haven’t felt your heart truly sink – as in plummet, plunge, cave in, touch bottom – until you’ve checked into your hotel and discovered the adjacent room is occupied by a family trailing multiple children, all of whom are jacked up on Starmix and testing the pliancy of the connecting wall by hurling next door’s fittings at it. The “easy-going” parents seem little inclined to rein in their offspring’s “natural exuberance”, whether at the beach (sand fights, piercing screams) or in the taverna (smashing glasses, piercing screams), begging the question: did they not understand the “it all” part of “getting away from it all”?

They disdain the popular, the well-trodden and even the comfortable for the “authentically” obscure, windswept and grubby (they’ve been known to storm out of their accommodation when they find it has the temerity to include an inside toilet). They’d rather stick needles in their eyes than refer to an app or guidebook, preferring instead to “go where the locals go” (usually a shack in the middle of a vacant lot whose unimpeachable “rusticity” is measured by the number of cockroaches that fall out of the ceiling rafters and into the soup). And they’re inveterate “toppers” when it comes to tales of intrepidness. “You got dysentery in Mexico? Well, I underwent a full gastrectomy in Bolivia…”

Illustrations by Ms Anje Jager