My wife and I are on the beach in Cyprus, padding along the sand, looking for a quiet spot away from other people.
It’s our first time in Cyprus. To be honest, it seems much like Spain. It’s dominated by modern, square holiday flats, but behind those, are old, narrow alleyways where the locals take pride in awkwardly parking small cars and then pouring dirt all over them.
“This will do,” she says and dumps her bags on a sun lounger.
I sit down and my wife turns the rusty handle to unwind the parasol. Slowly, it begins to unfurl. Squeak, squeak, squeak. My wife looks down at me, smiles and says, “You lazy bastard. You should be doing this.” Squeak, squeak. “But no, you’re just sat there like Joan bloody Collins.” Squeak, squeak.
We’ve picked a beautiful part of the coastline, it’s a classic holiday brochure scene: a secluded spot in a picturesque cove with my beautiful wife, who is occasionally taking a break from cranking the handle to swear at seagulls.
We’re all alone, until…
“Hey Morag!” shouts an old Scottish guy to his wife. “Let’s sit here. It’s a sun trap.” Morag doesn’t respond. “Morag! Can you feel how warm it is?”
“Whaaat!!!” replies Morag.
“I said: “It’s warm, are you warm!?” Silence.
My wife rolls over and whispers to me, “Short of shoving a thermometer up Morag’s arse, we’re never going to find out how warm she is.”
“Shall we move?” I whisper.
My wife looks at me and says, “I’m warm, how warm are you?”
“Whaaat!!” I say.
This goes on for a while.
We gather our things and wander along the beach, looking for a spot free from Scots of an unknown temperature.
“What about here?” I say.
“No chance,” she says and whispers, “Russians.” I glance at the Russians, they glare at me. Well, they’re either glaring or smiling; I can’t tell the difference. Whether drunk, sober or pushing in front of you at the hotel buffet, it’s the same expression. God knows what reaction you’d get if you tickled one.
We carry on along the beach, with my wife singing her reasons for rejecting sun loungers: “Too near bins… I can smell cigarettes…Too many tattoos.”
I stop and scan the horizon. “Shall I go and ask the beach attendant if he has any Russian or tattoo free zones?”
“You’ll not be the first,” she says and swans off. Her big red floppy hat and kaftan billowing in the wind. “Come on,” she shouts.
No thanks, I think. Joan’s tired. Joan wants to lay down.