18/08/2013 Part 1: Holidaying With My Sister, Adele And A Kingsize Bottle Of Gin
SO we were just coming off Junction 36 onto the M6 when I asked the Buddhist Big Sister: “So when did you officially break up from work?”
“I haven’t!” she snorted, booting the accelerator so hard the Sat Nav fell off the windscreen.
“I’m not due to finish till five!”
She may be a child of the light on the path to mindfulness, but right now she’s spanking it south on ‘work’s petrol’.
It’s a manic time trial to get past Birmingham before the rush hour.
It’s a fixation obsessing many drivers heading south – turning 40-mile-an-hour Buddhists into Lewis Hamilton.
The forecast for the week was seven big suns and sharks scent blood like my sister sniffs out holiday bargains online.
The eldest daughter and I were given 24 hours notice that we could join her and her 12-year-old son on a free week’s holiday.
As brother and sister, we haven’t holidayed together since the 1970s.
What could possibly go wrong?
Despite our love-hate relationship over the years, we’ve both matured and grown as individuals.
We’ve learned the adult way: it’s best to slate each other behind our backs rather than face-to-face.
Under the supervision of the Mother Superior, my six-year-old’s suitcase somehow managed to contain every combination of clothing for every conceivable weather scenario in the solar system.
“She’s going to Cornwall,” I offered. “Not Neptune.”
Five minutes before we were due to leave town, I grabbed a bundle of my own clothes off the bed and threw them into my trusty green holdall.
“If you wish to travel far and fast, travel light,” I said out loud, feeling very clever for remembering it.
At that moment, the divorced Buddhist Big Sister screeched to a halt on the drive – scaring the neighbour’s cat with Adele’s Set Fire To The Rain at full wap.
Later in the holiday, I would realise this track is a divorcee’s anthem; the song of choice for the perennially unlucky in love and self-pitying.
Whenever it came on, at whatever volume, she always moved deftly to ramp it up a notch.
I wanted to tell her that you can’t actually set fire to the rain because it’s wet, but kept my mouth shut.
When someone else’s paying, you watch what you’re saying.
I noticed in the boot, she had packed a case of Cider, two bottles of Rose, a kingsize Gordon’s Gin, six bottles of Peroni and a cooler of food.
One of the first teachings of Buddhism is that we need to know who we are.
My sister does and so does her liver.
Four hours into the trip I get a text from home: from the Mother Superior.
‘Have you seen the ironing?’, she asks.
At the next stop, I checked my holdall and found I’d packed the family washing including the kids’ Mickey Mouse flannels.
But before we reach the South West Coast, we first have to make a stopover in Gloucester at a friend of the sister.
(CONTINUES NEXT WEEK)
First published in The Westmorland Gazette – August 15th 2013