Thank God it's the holidays

17th July 1998 at 01:00

This is a busman's holiday. Actually, that's the wrong word. In my contract holiday is never mentioned. For holiday read non-term time. For busman read teacher. It's a busman's wotsit because I can't switch off. That paperback I bought at Gatwick and read on the flight coming over - I'm thinking, will this do for coursework?

We've come to Turkey, to the world's most beautiful beach, famous for its giant turtles, according to the brochure. The world's most beautiful? Discuss. What performance indicators could this resort provide if FEFC or OFSTED inspectors came with laptops seeking quality assurance? Where's the evidence? Turtles? I haven't seen one. I think all this as I lie by the pool.

My wife suggests I roll over and do the other side - or even immerse myself in the water. Leave me alone, I tell her, I'm thinking.


Today we go to visit some ruin. Come on kids, I tell my daughters. You had a whole day doing nothing yesterday. Today we'll be heuristic. Do something educational. I pile them in the hire car and play a tape on the journey: Fluent Turkish in One Week, Tape one, Side one, Lesson one, Grammar. Four hours later we get there.

We schlepp round a pile of old stones. I read out loud from a guidebook and test them on a bit of Turkish. I do a SPOC (student perception, of course) survey. What do you think of it so far? Hot, they say.


I give in. A day by the pool. My daughters are born teachers. They push me in and get me to do pointless things I am not naturally good at, like diving and retrieving a brick underwater. They don't laugh at me; they give praise, even when not really deserved, but there is a cruel streak in all this, a kind of revenge, a role reversal. Come on, Dad, you can do better than that. I realise what it is like to be an under-achiever. I belly-flop, badly.


I belly dance, badly. In a frock. It's the Turkish night out. The men are required to imitate the fat lady in a local nightclub. Laughter spills out into the hot air. Other tourists get up - women - and do the same.

After a while, my gin fizz is warm and the local lager flat. I'd do anything to be marking quietly at home or teaching a class. There is simply so much flesh about. On the beach by moonlight giant turtles lumber eagerly ashore to lay their eggs. I am approached by a wild, wanton, wobbling woman, bejewelled and smiling. I run.


No, that was just a bad dream. Too many gin fizzes. A quiet day, pool side, is called for. I spend it sunbathing. I lie on my front. I am at the world's most beautiful beach, the world's most beautiful woman is by my side and the world's most beautiful children play at my feet. I shall write a bestseller and live here on its royalties forever.

I have come to realise that on holiday you just unwind, forget everything and do what you please. This isn't school or college. There isn't even a Friday to thank God about. Every day is the same hot same. There are no results, no inspectors. No aftermath. "Just look at your back! " says my wife. "I told you, keep turning and use the sun cream." I experience the exquisite pain that comes from lying face down for a week, thinking too much, in the sun.

Richard Hoyes teaches at Farnham College in Surrey

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