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The Daily Shame | October 13, 2015

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Would you pay £60 to avoid a severe bout of holiday cramp? Michael Gove doesn’t think so.

Would you pay £60 to avoid a severe bout of holiday cramp? Michael Gove doesn’t think so.

| On 04, Mar 2013

That’s right…severe bouts of holiday cramp are cropping up all over the country and there’s not a single thing you can do about it.

You see, Michael Gove wants to help your children achieve their goals at school.  This is why you can’t go on holiday during term times unless the Head says so.  That’s how it is so you’ll just have to get on with it, won’t you?

If you don’t get permission from the Head, Gove wants to fine you £60 for each school child you own, but only to dissuade you from ruining your children’s education.  He’s a very nice man.  Very thoughtful.

On top of that, he will very kindly double that to £120 if you don’t pay within 28 days and he will very possibly threaten a court order and prosecution if you don’t then pay within 42 days.

Sounds very much like an ASBO, doesn’t it?  Maybe, that’s because it kind of is.  However the government don’t want us all to think they’re slapping ASBOs on our kids for any old reason, so they sort of leave that part out as much as possible.  It’s all there in black and white, though…if you look for it hard enough.

You see, Mr Gove wants all of you to come together in joyful unity so you can holiday together in overcrowded holiday camps or anywhere else you CAN’T afford to go during peak season.

All of you, mind…not just the ones who can afford it.  See?   Skint peasants of Great Britain, he really does care and he wants you to share the high life with all the rich people, even if it does mean financially ruining yourselves at the same time.

Who wouldn’t want that?

More to the point…who wouldn’t want to sit, elbow-to-elbow on the beach with the next family, while your adequately educated children fight with other adequately educated children over whose patch of sand is whose?

Why wouldn’t you want to waste most of your evening at the bar in the entertainments complex, queuing for over-priced drinks before fighting your way through crowds of other holiday-makers…spilling most of your refreshments all over yourself on the way back to your seat.

Who wouldn’t want to spend hours consoling tired, sobbing children and insisting they stay awake because Chico’s about to be thrust on to the stage by an unenthusiastic staff member dressed as a  giant manky dog, whose smelly, nicotine-ridden fur has obviously had far too few runs through a washing machine.

So what if Chico doesn’t appear until after 10.30pm and you’re too pissed up to even know what’s going on anyway?  You probably paid the highest price of the season for your holiday…just for the privilege of being in the same room as him as he spends just under 20 minutes running through his entire repertoire.

The next morning you’ll wonder why you can’t remember a thing about him and it’ll probably be because all the tallest women and children in the heaving audience were up on their feet holding banners with ‘I luv u Chico’ written across them in big letters…about two inches from his face.  Was he even there?   Who knows?

Still…freshen up in the toilets and you’ll be fine.  That’s if you can find one that hasn’t been stunk out by countless filthy bastards who think it’s only right and proper to shit into an already shit-blocked loo because that’s what one does when in a holiday camp and they’d all do it at home anyway, so get over it.

Don’t worry, these people are unlikely to do anything more disgusting than that, like leave a used tampon draped across the loo seat.  That would just be too disgusting…even for them.

No…they’ll throw them carelessly into a corner of the swimming pool changing rooms…unable to make it to the pool toilets, which are only a few paces away, but crammed with teenage girls asking each other if any of the lifeguards have asked them if they’re over 16 yet.

So who’s responsible for cleaning the toilets around a holiday camp?   The answer to that seems to be…everybody AND nobody.   You see, everybody is asked to take their turn, but nobody does.   It’s such a relief when you actually see someone up to their elbows in a blocked toilet and throwing disinfectant around like there’s no tomorrow.   You’d shake their hand if it wasn’t so caked in faeces.   However, you soon realize these people are too few and unable to manage the constant stream of kids and adults that descend upon their beautifully gleaming toilet seats during the very busiest of Summer weeks.

Off-peak, of course, the staff have plenty of time to sweep, mop and clean everything in sight.  At the beginning of the season every guest is a pleasure to behold and nothing is too much trouble.

Contrast that with the sudden influx during the over-crowded crucial six weeks school holiday period and all of a sudden you have queues and over-crowding at the pool, queues at the bar, queues for the shit-encrusted toilets and a general lack of interest from not only the seasonal staff, but most of the permanent staff too.

You stand there with your four kids, who’ve cost you a bomb and a half to take on holiday.  You ask a member of staff if they’d kindly clean a table for you before you sit down to eat in the food hall and they look round to see if there’s anyone else who will do it for you.  You ask them again and they start telling you how this job isn’t what they’re used to.   They tell you they’re destined for better things.

Still you stand there with your hungry brood while the cocky little twat continues to tell you how badly they’re treated and how they don’t see why they should do everything, when their managers are sitting on their arses doing nothing.

So, you’re still standing there with your bored, hungry kids…politely nodding as you listen to how this poor member of staff can’t handle it anymore and will probably leave at the end of the week. You even console them because you’re pathetic in your hope it will encourage them to at least hand you a cloth so you can wipe the table yourself!

Eventually, you go to the chip shop up the road to buy lunch there instead, before returning to introduce your now full-up kids to the entertainments team.  How spritely they AREN’T.  After partying all night in the bar and getting hardly any sleep at all, here’s one trying to palm your kids off with a photocopied page from a colouring book.  They throw a bunch of felt-tipped pens on to a few grubby tables and sit quietly on the edge of the stage, resting their lips on a completely unnecessary microphone, that merely serves to make them feel like a pop star, while randomly spouting shit like, “Great colouring guys”, “Having fun everyone?” and “Anyone finished yet?”.  Obviously, all these phrases are punctuated by the odd, “Cool” and a half-hearted thumbs-up.

Okay, you can deal with that, but later on in the bar you overhear a few members of the entertainments staff agreeing with each other about the kids they hate the most and how their parents should fuck off with them to the beach, or something.  They can’t stand the annoying little fuckers.  Yes, they really ruin their job…the fuckers.

Ummm…what is their job again?

Still, at least you have your nice clean caravan to go back to.  How reassuring it is to climb into those freshly-made little beds each night for some much-needed relaxation.

Remember when holiday camps used to hand your bedding to you as you drove in?  Remember how you only took the sheets you needed before driving merrily to your caravan or chalet to make up your own beds?  Yes?  No?

It’s not like that now in most camps.  You don’t have to bother with all that.

Peak season, you’re looking at an overstretched linen department with patchy staff who have so little time to get everything done, they just check the maximum berth of your holiday home, whack the number of sheets and pillowcases required in a plastic bag and leave it in your caravan for you to open and deal with.

Nothing wrong with that.  You just leave the bedding you don’t use in the hygienic plastic bag from whence it came to be taken back to the linen department at the end of your holiday.  However, not everyone leaves them alone.  Some people sunbathe on them.  Some people use them for picnics, some people even shag on them.  <rolls eyes>

The thing is…at the end of your holiday, the cleaners come along and chuck all the sheets, whether dirty or clean, out of the caravan to be collected by the linen department later on.  If it’s raining, they get rained on.  It doesn’t matter, though, because the linen department arrange for all these sheets to be laundered and pressed before going back out to new guests.

Don’t they?  Do they?  Well…they should.

But…you see, SOMEtimes, in SOME camps, if any of the reclaimed pillowcases and sheets ‘look’ clean enough, they’ll be put straight back on the shelves for immediate use.  I mean…no need to spend all that extra cash on laundering, is there?

That’s right.  After being carefully dug out of a steaming pile of grimy, sweaty and potentially piss-soaked or spunk-stained linen, a fresh spot of dirt or a stain will be conveniently ignored.  If it can pass as unused, it will be back on those shelves ready to be hygienically sealed in yet another plastic bag before you know it.

Imagine that.

Truth is…you can tolerate the odd stubborn stain on the pillowcase you’re nestling your cheeks into and rubbing your lips against.  I mean…some stains just never come out, even after several washes.

However, a fresh stain?…Lovingly left by a previous guest?…Could be anything.

Still enjoying that expensive holiday Michael Gove is so eager for you to have?

I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking…wouldn’t it be lovely to actually own a caravan on the site?  Come on…you ARE thinking that.   You can think of nothing better than to own your caravan.

Even the signs on the insides of every toilet door are urging you to buy, buy, buy…while you’re shitting out a dirty burger from the chippy…on top of ten other species of crap already piled so high they’re in danger of actually touching your buttocks.

You have to say…the nice salesmen are very convincing and they’re always so nicely turned out….suits and everything.  The only thing missing from their appearance is a nice shiny dorsal fin protruding from the tops of their heads.  They insist your experience on the camp site would be so very different if you actually OWNED a caravan and everything they say sounds marvellous and not a bit like you’ve already experienced first-hand.

Maybe, after buying a caravan, you enter a parallel universe where everything you’ve experienced for the past week or so is the complete opposite.  I don’t know.

So…do these £60 fines put people off of booking their holidays off-peak?  NO!

Does the Department for Education really think, just because holiday camps are cheaper and well within reach for us poorer debt-laden peasants, we will deny our family a few days of uninterrupted peace and relaxation in favour of saving a few quid?

Does the Department for Education actually expect the slightly more affluent peasants all over the UK to whack an extra couple of thousand on to the cost of their holiday rather than routinely pay £60 per child?

So is Michael Gove’s plan actually going to plan?  OF COURSE IT’S NOT!

Or is it?

Is his master plan to cash in on the growing number of parents who will inevitably give in to the idea that, if everyone’s doing it, why can’t they?  That’s a lot of money to rake in on a regular basis.

As much as I agree children shouldn’t be taken out of school if it’s not entirely necessary, there is no getting away from the fact that parents all over the country are beginning to see the £60 fine as just another financial factor into the overall cost of their holiday.  It’s not a deterrent and is being seen, more and more, as a simple amount to be paid, rather than a government fine for illegal wrong-doing.

What hard-working parent wants to spend the only time they’re likely to get off during the year attempting to spend quality time with their children on an expensive holiday that leaves them more frustrated and irritated than if they’d stayed at work?

Nobody wants the holiday I just described and, believe me, I wish I didn’t know so much about the reality of working in holiday camps during school holidays, BUT I DO. The extra pressure put on staff is overwhelming and sees a lot of them giving up and walking away at the camp’s most hectic times…leaving the more committed managers and staff members to take up the slack under constant fire of abuse and complaints from the hordes of holiday-makers so angry at paying so much for so little.

If anything…holidays at camps during school breaks should cost less than at other times, because this is when they are least enjoyable.  The hotter weather is a real temptation, but is it really worth it?


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