In our new series Voices of Irish Country Magazine, we are sharing some of the most popular columns found inside each issue of the magazine – past and present. This piece, by our columnist and broadcaster Muireann O’Connell, is from the current July/August issue, in shops now. Keep an eye on our website over the coming weeks for more excerpts from our brilliant writers
We’re at the time of the year when I hate going to the hairdressers because I know the inevitable question is coming: “Any holiday plans?”
I’m doing hairdressers dirty because we’re all at it, aren’t we? We simply must find out what organised fun our family and friends have lined up for the few days that they can manage to get away from their already planned-to-within-an-inch-of-their-mad-busy lives. It’s gotten to the stage where it’s like a competitive sport. “Oh you’re heading to Greece? I was there before it went crazy with the Instagrammers. Much more authentic back then. I’m sure you’ll have a lovely time,” said with all the sincerity of a Valentine’s Day card.
There was a time when summer plans just happened to you. As a child, your parents packed a car, you got in and next thing you were at the beach, or in my case on the farm, and you got to run riot with your cousins while your grandmother counted down the days until she could have her house back. When you were a teenager, you spent all of your time trying to avoid the holiday plans with your family so you could hang out with your friends, walking around the place in gangs like hyenas on the savannah always looking like you were up to no good when you were really wondering if going to see Romeo and Juliet in the cinema for the 74th time was overkill.
And what is there to say about planning holidays in your early 20s? They were bloody great! For a lot of people, it was a J1 visa or an inter-railing pass, a plane ticket to get you there, and sure, then you’d see what happened. Having an actual plan would ruin it.
Then you get to the adult stage of life and as with everything, it all changes. Sorting out a holiday as an adult with the responsibilities of children, work and pets is a military grade operation. I now know why the A-Team were always so happy about a plan coming together. It wasn’t about catching the bad guy. They’d managed to all get the same days off, finagle a friend to take the dog and book two weeks in the sun that wasn’t going to end in bankruptcy.
For a few years there when the world was shutdown, we didn’t have to think about holiday plans. I’m not saying it was a good thing but since then it seems that if you don’t have something good planned, you’re doing summer wrong. We can’t be seen to be wasting the good weather, even if it’s crap weather.
This isn’t just about holidays, overseas or at home. I got a message from a friend about a meet-up on the first proper sunny day of the year and I lied to her about having plans because I just didn’t want to go outside. Even writing those words down, I feel like it’s something shameful. The house was immaculately clean, I had the place to myself and a book I didn’t want to leave. So I stayed home, pretended I was doing something and felt utterly guilty about it. We never have good weather, and there I was, selfishly wasting it. And I know I’ll do it again. And get the guilts all over again.
There are people who revel in making plans and then there are those of us who feel like their brain is going to explode if they have to think about what they’re doing in two days’ time. There are both those sorts of people living in my house. No prizes for guessing who’s the plan-less one. I feel for my fella, I really do, but every time he talks about making plans – any sort of plans from holiday to wedding, broadband to DIY – I somehow end up asleep on the couch. It’s better than any sleep aid I’ve ever tried. We’ve made progress this year. We got an old-school wall calendar so, for the first time in seven years, we kind of know what’s going on a month from now. Still no holiday on it though.
The thing about planning a holiday is that it involves a lot of talking about the planning of the holiday which, to me, seems like work. I just want to get through the talking, the inevitable ads that bombard you about not being beach body ready to ensure that you feel really horrendous about yourself before you have to get into a swimsuit and the packing to the bit where you’re having the best wine in the world – the airport wine. Plus, the satisfaction that you will have finally given your hairdresser what they want, your holiday plans.
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