Dreaming of escape


World events, eh? I’ve just come back from a trip overseas and those world events, they just have a way of biting you in the arse. Not that I’ve been helping Uighurs towards autonomy, Christians out of Nigeria, or pretty much everybody across the border into Kurdistan. Nope, I’ve just come back from Ibiza, where for a while it looked as if lucky Johnny Spaniard may have had to put up with my fretful dependence on shady spots for a while longer because of Johnny Frenchman – or more specifically, Johnny Air Traffique Contrôle.

L’histoire de la lutte? Something about pensions, comme toujours, though I imagine it’s been beefed up with a hefty stir of guff about the French way of life being undermined by erm, modernity. But thanks to capitalism vs la France profonde, one of our number was forced to stay for an unscheduled extra night. He seemed considerably less pleased with the situation than we were, responding to ‘Yay! Simon!’ with tight smiles and ill-concealed anguish about his toppling tower of work back in Blighty, but despite our tactless delight, he made it away about 18 hours later.

In fact, this year had a good bit more coming and going than usual. Another of our number had pitched up after a three-week yoga course somewhere else on the island. The course sounded hilariously awful, with its progenitor and chief beneficiary emphasizing the importance of ‘karmic yoga’ – an essential element of yogic practice, apparently. She took it to mean carte blanche to bully her suggestible and high-paying clients into weeding her garden, cleaning her house, doing the laundry, taking out the bins etc – crucially for no payment – in order to enrich their spiritual Tikka Vindaloo Masala. 

Around the dinner table jaws dropped with admiration at tales of this woman’s exploitation of her ‘students’ – a loose term because it seems everyone else’s karmic yoga took precedence over her own, inasmuch as she shirked almost every opportunity provided, and paid for in advance, by her houseguests to actually teach the poor sods. So they all ended up teaching each other.

The plan was that Alice was then going to test her teaching wings by taking a few classes around the pool with us as her guinea pigs. Good luck with that. Mixed ability is the polite term for her motley crew; I’d forgotten to bring any yoga garb so would have had to prance about in my pants; we all drank far too much every lunchtime to risk even touching our toes and the pool was practically a not-on-your-nelly area as some kind of malfunction left it greener and murkier every day. In fairness, Alice did manage to squeak one past the guardians of indolence: the two leanest members took to the mats on the first morning, while the rest of us lolled about, dreaming up excuses to see off any future threat of activity.

The only two who did manage regular exercise were the little girls – aged four and two – who didn’t know each other beforehand but swiftly forged their allegiance through sandcastle building (after the standard-issue quibbles over exciting bucket and boring spade) and tempered it hard as steel by bedtime avoidance. Lily, the elder, was negotiator and battle-toughened rebel leader, while Bo had speed, lightning reflexes and total faith in her commanding officer. Bedtime rolls around. Lily, master tactician, can read the road ahead: the moment the vagaries of Hide and Seek put both players in the same room, beside the grown-ups, battle is lost. And so it happens. Two small, breathless pyjama’d figures are suddenly within reach of outstretched adult arms. Lily, channelling Mel Gibson in Braveheart urging the fight for freedom, howls a heartfelt: ‘Run, Bo! Run!’ And Bo, channelling Mel Gibson in Gallipoli, does. Unforch, things don’t pan out so well for Mel in either, and history repeats itself here. Scotland gets squished, the cute one in Gallipoli buys the farm and Lily and Bo are fast asleep within 10 minutes of capture.




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