In a broken dream

I was so looking forward to my holidays this year

as it’s been a busy, and sad, six months, but as the date of my flight to Portugal approached I had the strangest 24 hours that I can remember, as if someone decided to make my life a drama that any die hard soap opera fan would find implausible.

At various points on that Friday in the middle of June I would have begged the producers of my own, real life, Truman show to come up with a happy storyline just for once, maybe even write me out for a while.

If only life were that easy.

My day from hell started with a call while I was in Switzerland telling me that my favourite Aunt had died. She was a lovely woman, my Mum’s sister, who had looked after us so much when we were very young. She had gone to bed to read her newspaper and was found in the morning by worried police, propped up on the pillow and still with her reading glasses on. As peaceful a death as anyone could wish for I guess, but sad nonetheless.

Minutes later I had to film an interview with a member of the Ghana government, a formidable man who is their Minister For Commerce. To relax him I made some small talk, asking how long he had been in the Rotary Club. “Excuse me? What are you talking about?” he asked. I pointed to the club’s badge on his lapel to be told, exasperatedly, “That is my country’s Legion de Valour award, given to me by my President, one of the highest awards my country can give anyone.” I apologised of course, but the damage was done.

Hours later I flew home to discover my wallet had been stolen in Zurich so I sat up half the night cancelling my cards before going to bed, and then I woke up panicking. My drivers’ licence was also in my wallet, and I’d need it to pick up the holiday hire car in 48 hours. Frantic calls confirmed that the DVLA was closed, and the 24 hour car hire company had no idea what to do. Great!

I then headed in to our local town to have coffee with a mate and, after parking, I heard an exhausted, sobbing, panicked voice asking for help. I searched the car park and found a woman trapped in her car. She had forgotten to put her handbrake on and, as she tried to get out, the car rolled forwards with the open door trapping her leg against a pillar. I pushed the car back, releasing her leg, and I made sure she calmed down and was OK before walking ou on to the High Street.

On the pavement in front of me lay a man, shirt ripped off, with a paramedic giving him emergency CPR, pumping his chest for ages in a vain effort to revive him. I later learnt he had died of a heart attack. The poor soul passed away with happy shoppers rushing past, anxious not to miss buses or overstay parking meters, leaving him almost alone and uncomforted in his last minutes.

So within 24 hours I had heard of my Aunt’s passing, witnessed the death of a stranger, almost caused a diplomatic incident, had my wallet stolen, and then became resigned to having a very different holiday than we had expected as we would be trapped in a resort without a car.

Regardless, we flew out and the good news was that the car rental folk accepted my paper copy of the licence and gave me the car, so all the bad stuff was behind me. All I had to do now was lie in the sunshine and relax. No?

Hours after arriving at our villa, my daughter’s boyfriend started vomiting violently, so violently in fact that the local doctor called an ambulance before Jack was rushed to hospital by the Red Cross and had his appendix removed in an emergency operation. Our first few days in the sun were spent sitting in a stifling hospital ward.

Happily he recovered, and the rest of our holiday was, almost, problem free.

So if you get bored with your favourite soap opera and think TV is far fetched, come and join me for a day. Any day. You couldn’t make it up.