In this month’s dispatch from the frontline of chitchat, columnist Lou Conran gets the shits in Mexico.
For me, a holiday is important for refuelling and lying down. Mostly lying down. In fact, I like to spend most of my time flat on my back and minimal time upright. Make of that what you will. (That’s me trying to suggest I get laid on holiday. I don’t. I never do. I just like lying down.)
Equally important is who you go on holiday with. This can make or break your trip.
I went to Mexico at the beginning of the month, hark at me, with one of my best mates, Alan (not her real name). The role of the holiday chum is an important one, and is never something to be taken for granted.
We’ve all done it; we’ve all been drunk with a mate from work and gone, “Hey, you like Quavers? So do I! Let’s go on holiday!” ERROR.
Here are my criteria for holiday chumage:
• Do they like lying down?
• Do they like beer for breakfast?
• Are they a keen eater? (V. important: I can’t be doing with namby-pamby pickers, thanks.)
• Will they rub after-sun on your burnt body?
• Are they the sort of person who, if you have the shits, you don’t care that they’re next door listening?
In a way it’s like a mini marriage. You’re trapped somewhere foreign, with someone you think you know really well, but wouldn’t ordinarily spend that much time with. After 24 hours you usually know whether you’re going to have a brilliant time, or if you’re going to kill them.
Alan and I once shared a bed at the Edinburgh Festival, for two long weeks. This is all the training you need to understand how to survive a holiday with someone you’ve known for 10 years.
Fortunately for me our trip started exactly the way it was supposed to: standing in the hallway watching my drunk and naked mate squat over her suitcase saying, “I’m not sure this will get through the baggage allowance.” I knew we were off to a good start.
After a hiccup at the airport re: transfers (swiftly ironed out by expert sorter-outer Alan), we arrived at our hotel for a week of lying down in an all-inclusive way. When I say all-inclusive I mean the food and drink, not necessarily the staff. They seemed fascinated by our relationship. Everywhere we went we’d get “Amigos?” accompanied by a salacious wink.
“I don’t ordinarily trust a buffet that’s got birds flying over it, but after your eighth piña colada for breakfast you generally don’t give a shit.”
For the rest of the week, the staff just laughed in my face. Literally, openly, laughed in my face. This may have had something to do with my sunburn. I seem to get burnt really easily and I don’t know why because I think I’ve got Mediterranean skin. Other people seem to disagree. I once went to Greece with my mate Becky Big Baps and slathered myself in what she called Factor Chicken Fat (Hawaiian Oil) on day one, and I had to peel my face off the pillow on day two, and for the next five days I wandered around Greece looking like a burns victim. I had people stopping me in the street to pray for me.
Cut to me bending naked over the bed, the colour of veggie bacon, while Alan slathered me in aloe vera, remarking on how much she felt like Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey (Red) as I shook in pain. All we needed were cable ties and a paddle and she’d have been right.
We made the most of the ‘free’ booze and food. I don’t ordinarily trust a buffet that’s got birds flying over it, but after your eighth piña colada for breakfast you generally don’t give a shit.
In week two, we flew to a different part of Mexico and I got the literal shits for four days and the toilet paper bin had to be emptied because the room smelt like it was decomposing. Some other things that happened:
We were bitten by bed bugs.
We were pointed at, laughed at, stared at, gasped at, groped at and leered at virtually everywhere we went.
We drank all the gin and got down to our last panty liners.
We went to the wrestling and got shouted at.
A stranger ran off with our suitcases when we got to the airport to return home and we effectively had to wrestle them back off him.
A bird shat on Alan’s hand and she thought it was guacamole.
And yet, even after all this…I didn’t want to punch Alan in the face. Nor her me. Even after 336 hours in each other’s company, we still remained friends. If anything, it made us closer. So I want to say thank-you, Alan. You made that holiday brilliant. It takes a strong woman to deal with the little stuff and you did. You dealt with me. So I’m thinking, if you could stomach it, we could go to India next and I could get the shits there and you could empty the shit bin again, yeah? Alan?
Lou is due to be appearing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival from 5–31st Aug. Tickets for Lou Conran: Small medium at large are available here: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/lou-conran-small-medium-at-large3698 Views
Lou is a comedian, writer, actor, lover of curry and cheese, and is also a giant simple child.