06 June, 2006

En vacances

Everyone is planning their summer holiday at work.

There is a feverish atmosphere borne of last-minute decisions, reckless impulses and spontaneous journeys - and that's just around the building. Yes, the hot desk regime is now fully up and running, and absolutely everybody has shown their support for the policy by sitting in absolutely the same places they sat in before. Nonetheless the mood of impermanance and the increasingly scorching weather has undoubtedly contributed to a sense of wanderlust far beyond the confines of Piccadilly.

Once again, I won't be going on holiday. I remain of the attitude that at this point in my life I'd rather use my annual leave to take a break from having to do anything at all, not least struggling with unusual environments, currencies, languages and clocks. Besides, I can't afford it. I never have been able to afford a holiday. As such I haven't taken a proper vacation since 1994, the year I finished school, when I spent two weeks travelling round Holland, Belgium and France on a train.

It's not that I don't want to visit other countries - or, more indeed, other parts of the United Kingdom. I have long nursed ambitions to make spectacular treks, such as taking a train ride from one end of Britain to the other or walking the length of Hadrian's Wall. I also dream of one day visiting all the famous battlefield sites of Western Europe, and of crossing from one side of the United States to the other by railway.

But these are dreams for another time and place. For one thing, I couldn't countenance making any of those particular journeys alone. That's a whole separate issue, and who knows when and in what circumstances it would ever be resolved.

I also feel I have yet to put down enough roots to have the strength and purpose to spread my wings - in other words, I've still to learn the business of walking before I can run.

I have a collection of postcards from old friends and members of my family hailing from all over the globe. Indeed, my sister spent most of 2001 travelling right round the world, an act for which I had and still have enormous respect and admiration, not least because, by both accident and design and with impeccable timing, she flew out of the United States on the evening of 10th September.

I looked at all these postcards again the other night, and was in awe of how far and how often these people, who I for so long I only ever associated with my hometown, have contrived to see so much of what actually lies out there beyond the dusty pages of textbooks and the rusty aluminium of school gates.

Convention dictates you're supposed to spend your twenties travelling and your thirties settling down. I don't seem to have succeeded at either. But I'd maintain I haven't lost the urge to succeed. At which one, however, I'd probably need a holiday to work out.


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