Tuesday, 9 July 2013

The Summer of 1984 Revisited

My 18-year-old son is off to Greece on his first holiday sans parents.

I was going to say the first without an adult, but of course, he is an adult.
He is so excited.
Here's his neatly packed suitcase.

He is the group leader, having organised the original trip for 12, collected the money and readjusted when two dropped out and the travel agent he had booked it at closed down.

He has just checked all his documents, passport, E11 card, travel insurance and weighed his bag (14.1k) to ensure it does not exceed the 15k allowance.

On the whole he is sensible but and here’s the big but – so many things can happen to him.

Every newspaper I have read over the past few days reports some holiday tragedy: drowning after drinking; getting stabbed for chatting up a girl; being robbed of all cash hours into the holiday and so the list goes on.

But maybe the chickens are now coming home to roost.

It was the summer of 1984.
I had just sat my A-Levels and told my mum and dad  I had booked a holiday to Spain with my friend Karen.

I had saved and paid for the holiday with the proceeds of my Saturday job in a sweet shop.

What I had failed to mention was that it was a Club 18-30 holiday.

Some things parents just don't need to know because, hey,  they worry too much.
It was late August and we finally arrived at a dusty little town on the outskirts of Barcelona after a tortuous 36-hour coach trip.

Seconds after stepping on Spanish soil we were promptly stripped of our luggage and dumped in the pool by fellow holidaymakers.

(Me, front right and Karen in The Rovers Return bar, the night it was announced Corrie stalwart, Stan Ogden had died.)
We hooked up with a gang of lads from Northampton and Essex who on the whole, acted as big brothers to us.

(Here's me in my holiday togs, fake vest and white jogs - top right , if you hadn't guessed!)
In fact there was an even bigger brother amongst the gang – a Freddie Mercury lookalike who appeared to sniff out danger at every corner.

He barely drank, spent the evenings scanning the bars and quickly steered us out of harms way every time there was a scuffle.

Although he had tagged on to our group he appeared to be a solitary figure.

On the last day he was late for our evening out and I went to find him.

It was the first time I had seen his room and unlike ours it was immaculate – everything neatly folded and not a can of hair gel out of place.

He caught the surprise in my eyes.

“You don’t get much space to yourself in Wormwood Scrubs,” he replied.
 (Can you spot "Freddie"?)
I am still not sure to this day whether he was telling the truth but I do know that I arrived back home, safe and sound.


  1. wow he really does look like Freddie Mercury and the rest of the boys look like pop stars of the 80's. You look good in your photo above too. Gosh the 1980s how far we have come since then.

  2. Oh my Jane, seems like you had a lot of fun.
    The guy does look like Freddy Mercury and I actually had to google Wormwood to realize it was a prison - his actions give me faith that maybe people do change :)

  3. What fantastic memories! It is a big thing this letting go isn't it? X

  4. I loved the 80s and all its cheesy hairstyles....he....he.... thanks for the blast back to them xx

  5. Sounds like you had a fun trip, and you survived - I'm sure your son will be smart and sensible and have a great trip without incident.

  6. I'm sure your son will be fine and have a great time, Jane. The horror stories are rare; for every tragedy, as sad as they are, there are hundreds of young people enjoying their holidays safely and sensibly.
    Your 1984 pics are wonderful! xxx

  7. Curtise is right, how many millions of kids go on holiday each year?
    He'll have a fantastic time - probably get disgustingly drunk, burn to a crisp and have a fling with someone terrible just like we all did! Loved your 1984 pictures! xxx