Well last week’s Monday Club blog was a semi-optimistic post about Butlin’s holidays I enjoyed with Ben when he was little. Sadly, I must reveal this week that Butlin’s has little to offer sixteen-year-old boys in the way of entertainment and neither does the stretch of S.E coast surrounding it. I did toy with the idea of driving further afield in the hopes of finding something (theme parks etc) that would float the boats of Ben and his mate Lewis, but the weather wasn’t quite up to it on the days we had the opportunity. The boys weren’t particularly enthusiastic either, so in the end I just thought why bother? Adding insult to injury, our four night midweek break was sandwiched between two ‘adults only’ weekenders, which meant the place was virtually deserted apart from other mini-break family groups. While this meant we didn’t have to queue for anything it was a real dampener in the clubs and stuff.
Thank God, though, for the swimming pool, which took care of the mornings very effectively, and the small onsite fairground that offered a brief diversion on a couple of occasions. Other than that we drove up to Chichester a few times for cinemas and bowling and just kind of mooched about a bit. We took a lovely long walk along the canal path one sunny afternoon and I took some nice pictures with my new camera. The boys hated every minute, of course, but I had spent half the morning reading local ‘things to do’ brochures to them and they’d hated every suggestion so I took the ‘why bother’ view again.
The films we saw, BTW, were ‘After Earth’ and ‘Man of Steel’ – both of which, IMO, were crap. Man of Steel, to be fair, got off to a fairly good start, but seemed to lose the plot about 45 minutes in when it took the easy option and went into CGI overdrive. My favourite scene was the one where Emperor Zod and his cronies got imprisoned in, erm, prison suits and blasted into space. I would like to say this was because of the technical brilliance of the CGI or whatever, but in fact it was just a cheap belly-laugh because the prison suits looked just like dildos taking off. How very immature!
Evening entertainment onsite got off to a good start on the first night with a Rolling Stones tribute act who were actually quite reasonable. Ben moaned because they didn’t do ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ – his fave Strolling Bones track (good taste, that boy of mine) – but both boys seemed to enjoy themselves.
When we asked about the following evening’s entertainment we were delighted to hear it was ‘La Tomatina’ night. Ben has wanted to attend La Tomatina festival ever since he wrote about it for a project on Spain he did in primary school, so we rushed into town early next morning to buy up half a dozen trays of over-ripe tomatoes from the local market. That night, having decanted them into our man bags, we waited with baited breath in the centre stage arena for the redcoats to appear from behind the curtains then pelted them for all we were worth. We were a bit surprised that they didn’t appear to be armed with tomatoes themselves and even more surprised when we were slung out on our ears after less than ten minutes… Turns out it was ‘Tom & Tina Night’, with look-e-likees doing cover versions of Tom Jones’ and Tina Turner’s back catalogues. All in all we had a lucky escape, even if it was only to watch the previously mentioned turkey that was ‘After Earth’.
One of the most exciting things we did was to burgle another apartment. This is more innocent than it initially sounds, because we were only nicking shelves out of the fridge to make up for the ones that were missing in our own apartment. I would add that the apartment we burgled was unoccupied, and the door had been left open by cleaning staff. Hardly the stuff of Raffles the Gentleman Thief but it added a small degree of exhilaration to what was otherwise a very boring evening, and it also meant we could open and close our fridge door without the entire contents spilling onto the floor every time.
While I was very disappointed with the evening entertainment the boys, to be fair, were perfectly content. Having retuned the telly to get BBC3 they were quite happy to sit in all night watching re-runs of Family Guy and American Dad and that boggle-eyed idiot comedian Russell-something-or-other who seems to be on 24/7. Lewis told me at one point that the only channels he ever watches are BBC3 and E4, which terrified the life out of me. Basically, if there’s a crap American sitcom he’ll know every character and location, and after watching the re-runs a few times, most of the dialogue too.
Desperate to escape the delights of Russell Wossisname and Seth MacBloodyfarlane I chanced the ‘18+ only’ bars on two occasions. The first time there were about twenty or so people there. This appeared to be a small stable of prostitutes together with their pimps, and an even smaller group of desperate male holidaymakers (perhaps stayers-on from the previous adult weekend who hadn’t realised what they had signed up for?) being courted by them. I tucked myself in the quietest, darkest corner and quickly downed enough beers to guarantee a good night’s sleep before making my way back to the apartment and pulling the plug on the TV.
The second occasion just evolved rather than being planned, as the venue I and the boys had been in for a Quiz Night morphed into the late night bar at eleven o’clock. I gave the boys the apartment key and a free pass to watch telly for an hour and stayed on. By ten past eleven the place had pretty much emptied apart from what was basically the same group of desperate blokes chancing their arms with a group of equally desperate looking women who drifted in and swiftly out again in drunken, giggly, pairs and trios. Having promised the boys an uninterrupted hour I went for a nice 45minute walk along the beach instead, contemplating the opening title sequence from The Rise and Fall of Reginald Perrin…
One positive about the holiday was pointed out to me by Lewis on our second day – almost all of the people there were fat-knackers. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I’ve been low-carbing etc for ages now, and it was a much-needed boost to my self-esteem to find myself surrounded by people who obviously hadn’t been low-carbing for ages. Or possibly forever. On the downside I still felt like the odd one out, so I guess what I lost on the low-carb roundabout I gained on the Billy-no-mates swings. Ho hum.
So, with hindsight, Butlintz wasn’t such a good idea after all. Who knows, though, only another couple of years and those 18+ weekenders will be a viable option for Ben and Lewis and the delights on offer more to their taste. Not sure I’ll be going with them (assuming they would take me), but you never know – I still enjoy throwing a few shapes when I’ve had a beer or two. And if I did end up feeling like the oldest swinger in town I could just go back to the apartment and watch re-runs of Julia Bradbury’s Canal Walks on BBC4…
Anyhoo… here’s some pics from our holiday 😉