‘I don’t think anyone saw do you?’
‘Oh no, not at all,’ replied Father, his cheeks reddening with his lie. And if this wasn’t a giveaway to the veracity of Father’s statement, then the man at the other side of the pool, sniggering openly as Mother tried to discreetly tuck one of her bottom cheeks back into her swimming costume, was.
‘It’s not my fault anyway,’ complained Mother, haughtily. ‘This fit me perfectly before I had the baby. It’s your fault m’lady,’ she added, waggling her finger in an accusatory manner at me, a smile on her face.
But I didn’t find anything to smile about in her slanderous slight and told her so firmly: ‘I beg your pardon,’ I began, loudly. ‘How dare you!’ I knew for a fact that the inability of the garment to cover Mother sufficiently was everything to do with her determined refusal to admit her true size – ‘I’m still the same size I was when I was twenty-one’ – she would boast/lie regularly – and nothing to do with me. ‘How dare you drag me into this,’ I added, as ever, my words coming out as a scream.
Mother sighed. ‘I don’t know what’s wrong with the baby,’ she said. ‘You’d think she’d be happy coming somewhere like this.’
Father shook his head. ‘I dunno. She’s a funny one.’
I bristled in annoyance at Father’s words, especially coming from him, a man who was wearing that ridiculous oversized hat through choice: and he thought I was odd? But my parents seemed to be utterly bemused by my lack of enthusiasm over my surroundings, surroundings which they had waxed lyrical about since we had arrived.
‘Look at that view!’
‘And the sea. How blue is that?’
‘Ooooh, and how about that pool. I bet you’d love a little paddle darling.’
I was fairly certain that I wouldn’t.
‘And look over there at that mountain. It’s stunning isn’t it?’
I, meanwhile, remained nonplussed by the supposed attractiveness of my environs, a fact which seemed to disappoint my parents.
‘You’d think she’d be excited. Her first trip abroad.’
But they should know by now that I really do not care where I am as long as I have milk, my teddy bear and good friend RoRo (thank goodness they remembered to bring him though I was furious that he had been forced to travel in a suitcase rather than alongside me) and somewhere nice and soft to sleep.
‘Do you think she’s got enough suntan lotion on?’ asked Mother, anxious. ‘Has her nose caught the sun?’ she gasped.
I doubted this was possible, given the fact that not only was I wearing a layer of suntan cream so thick that it was hard to tell where I ended and the lotion began. And besides, I was hidden away within the confines of my pushchair, under a parasol, in the shade.
‘I’m taking no chances,’ Mother had sniffed after she had steered me into a shaded area so dark that for a moment, I thought that night had fallen.
Still, to be fair. I didn’t blame her. Not after what had happened to Father.
‘It’ll turn brown tomorrow,’ he’d declared unconvincingly as he’d lay uncomfortably, his red raw stomach exposed to the cooling, soothing fan. (That had been yesterday and he was still doing a convincing impression of a lobster.)
‘Never mind,’ Mother had said, opening a bottle of gin which she had secreted away at the back of the wardrobe, her defiant response to the ‘ridiculously overpriced mini bar.’ ‘We’re on holiday and that’s the main thing,’ she’d added repeating the mantra that had been used excessively over the last few days.
Like, for example, when I had been mildly upset in the restaurant when I’d realised that I had left RoRo in the room. ‘Everyone’s looking,’ Mother had declared tearfully. And when Mother had realised, to her cost, that she had put my swim nappy on the wrong way. ‘It’s floating,’ she’d stated, aghast, as my nappy contents spilled out. ‘Everyone’s looking.’ And when I had accidentally kicked a bottle of water all over the table whilst demonstrating my frustration at being left in my pushchair for too long. ‘It’s gone everywhere and EVERYONE’S looking.’
‘Still, we’re on holiday,’ Father had muttered.
I couldn’t help but wonder if we’d have been better staying off at home, especially as now, once again, Mother’s bottom cheek popped out again.
I was about to raise this point, rather robustly when I looked across and saw Mother laughing. Really laughing. And Father too. ‘Perhaps I should have just bought a bloody G-string, really frightened the other guests,’ she giggled. I watched them carry on like that for a good few minutes and I thought what’s strange about their behaviour? Eventually I realised what it was; they were enjoying themselves.
It was rather nice to see.