You need a holiday. You know it, I know it, we all know it. Everyone need’s a holiday. I certainly need a holiday, and I have literally just this minute returned from bumming around Cornwall for three weeks, scoffing ice cream and attempting to do what some might describe as ‘surfing’, and others might describe as “throwing yourself into waves on a board you are attached to, which you still manage to fall off”.
Oh, it was bliss! Oh, it was glorious for the soul! The sky, the sea, the change of perspective. Like most people, I am usually too embroiled in my daily life to know I need a holiday until something forces me to take one – in my case, normally something approaching a nervous breakdown. Which is why I now have a rule to always have a holiday booked, even if that holiday is a long weekend in my mother’s spare room. These are my guidelines for good health and wellbeing: three healthy meals a day, lots of sleep, plenty of exercise, no booze, and a getaway in the diary.
I know I am not alone in this: we are a nation of holiday-lovers. You only have to look at campsites and cottages in Cornwall, Devon and Dorset – almost everything fully booked until the end of September – to see how important it is for us to have time away. But the Government seems to have underestimated the importance we place on holidays – and, even worse, they actively seem quite disparaging about anyone who might have had the temerity to have recently booked one.
Right from the beginning of this crisis, the government has poo-poohed the notion of anyone going away, because if they have to work every day of this god-damn awful summer, then everyone else will, too. “It’s time to go back to work!” They cry, as if we have all been lazing around barbecuing and enjoying the sun since late March. No hint of acknowledgment that for those of us ‘lucky’ enough to have kept our jobs, lockdown was about as relaxing as walking on a bed of nails (and for the people who have lost them, even worse). Admittedly, the unemployed may not be prioritising travel right now, but who could blame them if they decided to spend the last of their savings on a cheap package deal so they could escape from the horrors of this summer for a few days? The last time I checked, going away wasn’t a crime, though we seem to be inching ever closer to it.
Back in May, Matt Hancock told This Morning that “it’s unlikely big lavish international holidays are going to be possible for this summer. I just think that’s a reality of life.” At the time, I wondered: has Matt Hancock ever tried to have a warm ‘shower’ over a bucket on a French campsite? Here is a man for whom all holidays are lavish – presumably because he hangs around with people who tend to take breaks in Caribbean villas belonging to their super-rich millionaire friends.
Perhaps this is why the Government can’t see why the humble summer holiday is so important to us – because they know that when this is all over, they can spend the rest of their lives lazing around on their buddy’s yachts. But for most of us, holidays are, while not cheap, not exactly luxurious affairs. They are a simple treat, an escape from the stresses and strains of daily life, a moment to recharge and recalibrate and enjoy a change of scenery. They are the things that get us through the darkness, and, boy, what a lot of darkness there is this year.
Now is the summer of our discontent and, frankly, we all need a holiday to look forward to. In my mind, Rishi Sunak would have been far better off subsidising travel than cheap meals out with friends. If he sent the country on holiday, it wouldn’t need to be the kind of fancy trip to Tuscany that he and his colleagues are presumably used to – a bucket and spade and some fish and chips on Perranporth beach would do quite nicely, ta. The break will do us all wonders, and it will be just what we need before that much-talked about second wave turns up just as the long, cold nights start to draw in.
As the line between work and home becomes increasingly blurred, it could be argued that we need holidays more than ever. Yes, I know, there’s a pandemic on. But there’s lots of things on, and occasionally, just occasionally, we all need to switch off from these things in order to survive them. A holiday isn’t an indulgence, as Hancock seems to think. Right now, I’d say it’s an absolute necessity.
Read Bryony Gordon at telegraph.co.uk every Saturday, from 9am