We are back. We had a whole week in PROPER sunshine. We have tan lines. We have clothes stained with suncream and sorbet. We have shoes full of sand that really ought to have been batted out before packing. We have experienced summer and we bloody loved it. Yes english insipid spring, I’m looking accusingly at your poor show thus far and JUDGING. We didn’t even go far. Greece. Yup, even a country with an economy on its knees can afford a decent burst of summer fun.
This is where I have to admit how uncultured I’ve become. I hear you already “ooh Greece, where civilisation was born, all that history!” Well…we didn’t see anything older than 50 years (apart from the woman by the pool who may well have been dropped on the sun-bed by Icarus judging by her leathery tanned cleavage). We didn’t bloody want to. Yes yes, when I was younger and full of vim I travelled across Bolivia on a flea ridden horse to sleep in a rainforest; I danced on the salt plains of Uyuni; I sailed across Lake Titicaca to walk on those reed islands; I traversed Rajasthan in searing heat to see the Taj Mahal at 5am (the sunrise! so glorious!); I pootled up Keralan backwaters to stay on a farm; I joined a Malaysian chef in a treehouse surrounded by monkeys to learn how to cook authentic Rendang. The main difference was before M I had energy to burn! I could stay up late, and rise early and embrace all those experiences in the care-free way one can afford when not responsible for the survival of another human being. Now I’m too bloody exhausted. Now I want a good hotel room, a quiet (enough) beach and good pool-side service. I want a bloody Margarita at around 4pm and I can tell you now, they don’t serve those in the middle of the Peruvian wilderness. Not with a bowl of roasted almonds anyway.
Anyway back to Greece. Just before we left there was a mildly amusing meme doing the rounds of modern day tan lines. Suggesting we will all have marks across our chests from holding smart phones/ I pads in the sunshine. I smiled and thought, surely not, surely nobody pays to go somewhere hot, settles on a sunbed and then neglects to put down the one thing that stops them truly relaxing and prevents them engaging with the humans they share their lives with.
I was hilariously wrong.
I am still gobsmacked at how many people sat in the sun or the shade and ignored their families and gorgeous surroundings (we had a view of mount olympus!) so that they could play candy crush or some other childish game. One particular mum tuned out her daughter who kept begging her to take photos of her in the pool and spent hours tap tapping at her screen. No doubt telling twitter how great the holiday that was happening beyond the phone was. Another family, yes an ENTIRE FAMILY of four sat in the shade on sun-beds each with their own console. Fully dressed. This made me rage. Let someone use those beds for what they were designed for . SUN WORSHIP. We saw them at a local restaurant that night. While the adults ate, the kids played on iPads with headphones in.
They were not the minority. This scene was played out on, I’d venture, 70% of tables that had kids seated. The equivalent of a dummy for their brains. This terrifies me. Are we raising an entire generation who cannot fucking switch off from technology long enough to converse? To look at the food in-front of them? To consider whether they might be full or hungry? They looked like robots shovelling anonymous forkfuls into their half gawping mouths while their eyes and ears were trained on films or games. We had our 4 year old with us. Yes she gets restless once the order for food is placed. So we wandered away from the table to look at the crabs and lobsters in the water tank, we threw bread to the fish in the marina, we played Uno, we let her colour pictures, we took photos of each other, we asked what she had enjoyed doing that day, she asked if she could have ice-cream for pudding, we told her off for eating too much bread, she stole squid from our plates. Yes it would have been relaxing to have a purely adult conversation, but we had M with us and she is our family and I want her to grow up knowing we care about what she has to say, and knowing how to listen to others, and to wait for her turn in a conversation. I want her to learn that not all behaviour is acceptable at a dinner table, but that doesn’t make eating out boring. I want her to think about her food and to try new things, if she had been looking at a screen she would never have been intrigued enough to try all the fab local food as it rained down on the table in mezze sized portions: squid, octopus, whitebait, scallops, halloumi. I want her to engage with the world around her, not a virtual one on a screen.
We were in such a beautiful resort and I’m glad she enjoyed it enough to cry when we left because she wanted to stay forever. I bloody wanted to as well, pickle.