On the road to Wigan beer

21st August 1998 at 01:00
Wednesday August 5: Sunny Tenerife, here we come. There are four of us sitting at Gatwick on our suitcases (hooray), we've promised to fine anyone who talks about school (hooray) but it is just 6am. And Cattlejet has just announced a four-hour delay on the flight. Maybe the bar will open soon.

8am: We've all bought airport novels (except Rebecca, the Housemate from Hell, who is triumphantly clutching a copy of Improve Your Mind On The Beach), eaten Egg McMuffins and drunk gallons of coffee. Start looking at the bar with a bit more interest.

Decide to go through passport control to the departure lounge when Rebecca (who invited her?) offers to teach times-tables to the whiny children of a nearby party who have just one question: "When are we going to be there?" Thankfully, at least one of the sets of parents glare as if she's a child molester, so it's easy to drag her away.

"It's parents like that who make our job more difficult," she harrumphs. "David Blunkett should make it compulsory for all of them to do a college course in the importance of educational opportunities."

10am: People are starting to move away from us, after liberal squirting of the perfume testers in duty-free. Rebecca is muttering about allergies and waving Kleenex around. Finally, our flight is called.

10pm: Well, here we are at the Hotel Insanitaire. I lost the toss and am sharing with Rebecca, her factor 50 and a dozen or more self-improvement books. Still, there's loads of single men out there and the night is yet young.

Thursday August 6: Get a bit fed up with the general image of teachers. Every bloke we meet is fine until the conversation moves on to jobs. Then they go white, tell you how crap they were at school, what battleaxes their teachers were and what a waste of time education is anyway. Resist temptation to tell them they are living proof of the last point, at least. Consider claiming to be a tax inspector for the rest of the holiday.

Saturday August 8: Rebecca is a wonderful human being. Well, she was the only one who remembered to pack Nurofen and Resolve. And Imodium, but we won't dwell on that. Seem to remember last night involved a competition to find the naffest English bar in the resort - and there's a lot of competition. Should it be the one constantly showing repeats of To The Manor Born, or the Larry Grayson theme bar?

Sadly, much Pils was drunk. Seem to remember we had a great night - met a gang of male teachers from Wigan.

Much later: Am not too sure about my catch in the cool light of day. He's an RE teacher and I don't quite like the way his Adam's Apple bobs above his "Jesus Saves" T-shirt. However, Rebecca seems most enamoured, and in the light of her generosity with the Resolve . . . well, what else can a girl do?

Monday August 10: Great holiday this is turning out to be. Every bloke I meet has the IQ of a lobster (and often the skin tone as well) while Rebecca seems to be having a fine old fling with the Wigan Wonder. Turns out he's a deputy head halfway through his NPQH so they spend a lot of time talking about time and motion.

Meanwhile, despite a complete lack of foreign food here (you can have anything you like as long as it involves egg, sausage and chips) I have developed my own version of time and motion - Tenerife Tum and a severe aversion to alcohol in any form.

Evening: Horror! Feeling better, so went for a walk to the sea - but began feeling a bit woozy after a few minutes, still all-too-close to the shops and bars. Blackness. Then came to on pavement with two hairy creatures in skimpy shorts leering over me. "'Ad a bit too much luv?" one grinned, before pouring a glass of icy water over my head.

Sick, sober and soaked, I feebly started giving him a mouthful . . . when who should appear but Mrs Mandelson, the chairman of governors, closely followed by husband and kids. "Good evening, Miss Chalke," she hissed, casting a disapproving look at the Grant Mitchell theme bar from which I had apparently tottered. New rule: never spurn an RE teacher. God doesn't like it . . .

Susan Young

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