A New Syndrome

What is a syndrome? A group of symptoms which consistently occur together, or a condition characterised by a set of associated symptoms, or a characteristic combination of opinions, emotions, or behaviour.

I think I’ve discovered a new one. It’s called ‘Holiday Brain’. Holiday Brain is a temporary affliction affecting townspeople who come to the country without taking the precaution of bringing their normal senses with them. There are many symptoms ; Holiday Brain causes drivers to careen around hair pin bends with no concern about who might be coming the other way. When he (it’s usually a him) discovers too late that there is already a car on the narrow roadway, Holiday Brain causes total amnesia as far as reverse gear is concerned, and the sufferer is deluded into believing that if he slams his brakes on, and sits there for long enough, his vehicle will shrink and any other road user will be able to squeeze past him. Sometimes the delusion is that if he sits there stonily staring ahead, the other cars will sprout wings and sail over him like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. There are many other effects of the syndrome – it often confuses visual signals, so that soft grass verges appear to be an invitation to park, while double yellow lines absolutely demand that every over-sized lumbering camper van stops right there, and private driveways are translated as picnic areas, and bushes as public lavatories. Another common visual effect is that a notice stating ‘Warning. Soft sand. No cars on beach’ is understood as ‘On you come. Have fun doing wheelies.’ so that every year someone (or several someones) will drive onto the beach and be amazed that a lump of metal weighing a couple of tons sinks up the axles and requires to be towed out by an obliging farmer in his tractor. Of course, the virus isn’t transmitted to drivers exclusively – it affects middle class parents too, so that they become unable to control their children, or keep track of them, or remember how many they have.

But the syndrome, with all its minor annoyances, has now left us for a few weeks. It will return briefly at half term, and then in the Summer we will have an 8 week epidemic. Fortunately, those of us who live in the areas where holiday migrations take place, have built up herd immunity. When a gleaming Chelsea tractor grins to a halt on the village street we smile and wait, when Mr Entitled from Surrey fumes that the rubbish cart is slowly wending its way and causing him to miss thirty precious seconds on the beach, we wind the window down, turn off the engine and listen to the birds. When Ms Millenial complains that there are adders in the dunes (‘Can’t something be done?’) we say a thank-you to the adders for keeping intrusive feet away from our beautiful wild orchids.

Holiday makers. Grr.

But then, but then…. there are days when holiday makers bring their lively, funny, lovely children to the beach and they play volleyball or cricket, or dads practice rugby throws with gambolling wild youngsters, and there are days when locals can sit on the garden wall and talk to passers-by who live very different lives in very different places, and there are days when our holiday guests remind us of a child’s excitement at seeing the sea for the first time. I’ve met all sorts of people from all sorts of places, when I’ve been down on the beach or in the local shops – people from Europe, Australia, Mayfair, USA, Africa. I’ve chatted with rich and poor and in-between, old and young and in-between, Black and White and in-between. It’s exciting and annoying when they all arrive, dreaded and welcomed, enjoyed and tolerated.

It’s a privilege to live in a place so beautiful that people will travel half way around the world to get here, to walk on our damp sand, to get stuck in our winding streets. And if we laugh at them sometimes, it seems only fair if they laugh at us in return.

‘Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.’ Ephesians 4: 31&32

And that means everyone!

One thought on “A New Syndrome

  1. Love this Luce and I LOVE the photo of the country lane – am breathing in to try and smell the Welsh air xxxx



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