Who’d be married to a
politician? While most of us might rent a chateau in France for a bit of
upmarket rest and relaxation, Tony, apparently, is blind to the picturesque
view from the pool, and anxious to indulge in a spot of political networking.
It’s heart-warming that Mr Blair puts the good of the country before his
suntan, but speaking as a wife, I’d be less than delighted. After Cheri’s
recent emotional trauma, you’d think that their family holiday would be just
that – a holiday. You know -
scrabble, swimming, squabbling - the annual appointment with boredom that the
evolved amongst us call relaxation.
But no – there goes old jug ears, breaking off his annual holiday for a
trip to diplomatic Euro Disney, to hold ‘informal meetings’ with Jean-Pierre Raffarin,
the French prime Minister.
Iraq will almost certainly be a topic of conversation, we’re told – but if there’s a war looming, you’d think the need to discuss it with his own electorate would be more pressing. No - what we’re seeing here is a bad case of holiday phobia. In line with the recent report that showed we Brits take fewer and fewr days off, Mr Blair is suffering from a cultural malaise – the inability to switch off and snuggle down in the bosom of his holidaying family. Factor in a depressed and grieving partner, and even the most understanding spouse will be checking out of the Holiday Inn anxious to spend more time at the office.
For most sufferers, the month of August is akin to purgatory – days unpadded with the comfortable routine of work. There are no emails to check, no deadlines to meet – no voice mail to remind you how important you are. For over-achievers, forced to underachieve on the beach with an airport novel, even the thought of a two-week vacation is enough them hyperventilate. These are the people who take adventure holidays, actively relaxing by indulging in a displacement activity such as white water rafting in a remote country with a bad human rights record.
Oh give it a rest and stop pretending that the world stops spinning on its axis if you sit on your bum and reach for the factor 15 sun block.
As it happens I‘m married to an
adrenalin junkie – not the kind who base-jumps off Christ the Redeemer in Rio
de Janeiro – but the kind addicted to his own sense of global importance. Don’t’ get me wrong, he’s not a
solipsistic egomaniac (which would be my job) just a man married to his work,
in this case, Middle East politics.
Since I went for an early morning swim on our so-called second honeymoon and came back to find both sex and the holiday cancelled because CNN had just announced the assassination of Rabin, I try to keep the remote control out of his hands and chose hotels without satellite TV when we holiday, but it’s not easy – especially since he’s discovered the internet and on-line newspapers. Nowadays, we can’t have a dirty weekend without it turning into a threesome – him, me and the laptop. Foreplay means surfing the headlines in the Jerusalem Post, Ha’aretz, the Herald Tribune or Al-Hayat. Instead of a post-coital cigarette we get ‘Breaking News’ or teletext. The laptop even goes with us to the poolside. Whenever I turn my back to tan the other side, he’s off again, the pling, pling of the modem connecting over the plop of ice cubes. Then there are the endless phone calls from colleagues and regional radio stations. The man nips outside for a signal and checks the messages on his mobile phone with the furtiveness of an adulterer. Just the other day after a family outing to the cinema, I began to understand how it feels to be Gina Davis having long conversations with non-existent cartoon mouse, or Mike Meyers, acting opposite himself in a bald wig. Marion, this is your life. I’m walking down the street, chatting about the film and my husband, oblivious, is immediately blabbing on the mobile.
‘It’s Sunday –has anyone died?’ I mouthed, but no - his business partner is also a phone-addicted, news junkie - and they’re co-dependant. Short of going into a call box and ringing him myself, I’m playing this scene alone.
So get back to the sun lounger Tony, and talk to your wife before she begins her own hostilities.