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Sand in my shoes
Karen Eeuwens
I suddenly felt a strange pang of emptiness.

I find I am constantly wishing we were still lying on that beach in the Mediterranean. This time last month I was in Greece. Sunbathing by day and partying by night, I was lucky enough to feel my doubts and worries melt away as rapidly as the ice in my vodka and coke. Sitting strategically by the pool (chest out, tummy in), while eying up the gorgeous talent and simultaneously working on my soon-to-be killer tan, it dawned on me that this was, in fact, not far from my idea of heaven.

So imagine my dismay when, two weeks later, I wiped the sleepiness from my eyes to be faced with a sign stating very clearly 'RISELEY please drive carefully’. Riseley, what’s that? I thought to myself, puzzled. Moments later it all became clear. I was home. My sleepy brain, however, was in no state to deal with this revelation and, yawning with disappointment, I promptly fell asleep again.

This was probably the most appropriate reaction, given the circumstances. I woke the next morning to find that I had I had run out of knickers and at some point in the last few weeks had had a brief moment of madness, during which I had been charitable enough to sign up for extra work (well, they said they were desperate).

Several minutes of frenzied tooth-brushing and mad, aimless running-about-the-house later, I decided that actually I would not be able to treat the customers of Next with my usual level of patience and customer care due to my bleary, post-holiday state. Rather than subject them to my tired, irritable self, I came to the conclusion that it would really be much fairer to phone in sick.

Instead, I opted to unpack my suitcase straightaway - allowing me to admire (once again!) the range of new continental garments that I had picked up along the way. I didn't want to leave my damp towels and unwashed clothes to ferment over the next week a la Wayne and Waynetta Slob.

It wasn’t until I had folded up my last sarong and placed it lovingly at the back of my wardrobe (well, I wouldn’t be needing it for at least another year, would I?!) that I suddenly felt a strange pang of emptiness.

Now what was I supposed to do? I had spent the last two weeks of my life surrounded by exciting (not to mention good-looking) people, with a swimming pool on my doorstep and no end of exotic, tropical-sounding cocktails to sample. And now suddenly (and extremely unfairly) I was expected to provide my own entertainment!

It was for this reason that I spent the next few days in a state of denial. I was determined to keep my long-struggled-for tan (which was already beginning to peel in patches, causing me to look like a scarily mutated leopard), I spent several hours a day in my back garden, shivering optimistically in my bikini and sipping coffee to counteract the cold breeze. It was only when my brother remarked that my goosebumps made me resemble a plucked turkey that I came to my senses and realised that no amount of delusional behaviour would overcome the mercilessness of the British weather.

But worse was still to come. On arriving at school under the illusion that this would be a social occasion with the sole purpose of allowing me to see my friends and amuse them with various renditions of my holiday antics, I was shocked to discover that they actually expected us to work (what? You mean I can’t spend another year sitting in the common room munching on honeycomb Yorkie bars and humming along to the Disco Fever CD on the hi-fi?).

I think that in my reminiscent state over the holidays (due to the realisation that this is in fact my last year at school, ever!) I must have built up a slightly exaggerated view on the Joys of School. In fact, if one more teacher reminds me that vest tops and flip-flops are not included in the school dress code and thrusts an ominous-looking piece of paper in my face with the words ‘No Beach Wear’ underlined, I think I might cry! (After all, I’m only trying to prolong that summer feeling – where’s the harm in that?)

It’s hardly surprising that the only thing keeping me sane at the moment is the comfort of all those last-minute-deal sites on the internet, just waiting for me to book my next holiday in October. Oh, and I’ve heard they’ve got some really good bargains on Last Minute ...

© Karen Eeuwens 2002

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