I’ve only just realised, but then again I can’t say that I ever really looked out for it, that we British people no longer have the benefit of advice on where to go for our holidays at this time of year, advice served warm and all-smiley-like by middle class people who you knew for a fact would not be seen dead in the resorts that they had been sent to try and flog to you.
Yes, I’m talking about the BBC’s “Holiday xx” (the xx designating the year in question) and ITV’s answer with a question, “Wish You Were Here?” to which our Ned and I used to reply every week “Not if you get there first Judith…”
Every Monday evening around this time of year you could switch on either of your TV channels (either of them, count them, there are two), to be greeted by some smug twat who had been flown to a Spanish Costa on a Dan Air BAC 1-11 and who was determined to either get you to do the same for only 60 guineas full board (about half your years wage), or thoroughly piss you off with envy in the process.
Cliff Michelmore was the BBC’s middle class twat and you just knew, just absolutely knew that he would never, ever, in a month of Sundays, ever, ever take his fortnights holiday-with-pay in a shit hotel on Lloret-del -Mar and yet someone at the BBC had wangled him a free Dan Dare ticket and a few nights in Hotel Don Pancho provided that he strolled the beach, found some bikini clad young girls to stand in front of with the hint of some bird in the background being topless, or was that just a bloke with long hair, and speak with enthusiasm about how Lloret had “all the mod cons” including by next summer flushing toilets and monkeys on the promenade to have your photographs taken with, how did we ever resist the balding comb-over merchant before he was replaced by Frank Bough, who resisted the temptation to show us the sorts of places he enjoyed visiting when he was on holiday.
My favourite though was always ITV’s “Wish You Were Here ?”, partly because of the question mark in the title, they didn’t automatically assume that you did actually want to be there, they were asking you a question and most weeks in our Living Room either me, our Ned or our Dad would give them their answer, usually in the form of “No, it looks bloody awful”.
Judith Chalmers was the host of course, Judith Chalmers hosted “Wish You Were Here” for 146 years and never got any older or ever changed her red crimplene blazer, or for that matter ever ended every sentence with anything but a laugh.
“This is a wonderful twin room at the Hotel Peublo” she’d speak to camera, Judith always looked directly into the camera, she was speaking straight at you was Judith, “it has wonderful sea views and is forty six floors up from the dining room, ha-ha!” and then she’d show you the toilet, Judith always took the cameraman into the toilet and made sure that he got a shot down the toilet bowl while she flushed it, “Look, flushing toilets ha-ha!” she’d gush, along with the flushing toilet.
Sometime in the early 1970s our Mum and Dad actually followed in Cliff and Judith’s footsteps and flew on a shaky Dan Air 1-11 to Lloret to stay in a tower block and have their photographs taken with monkeys on the sea front and at evening receptions where slim-hipped Spanish waiters poured wine into our mothers mouth from something that looked like a big vinegar bottle with a pouring spout, “Oooh it was lovely wine” she told Ned and I when they got back, “and we had some fried chicken in a basket, not on a plate, in a basket, and you ate it with your fingers” and we marvelled at how cosmopolitan our mother had become until the following Sunday when she served us our dinner of fried chicken in a raffia basket, it was all going so well until she soaked the whole lot in gravy and it all ended up on the carpet.