Oh, readers. You bunch of psychopaths. How I love you! After my request in my last blog for stories of dreadful seduction I received tweets which left me literally roaring with laughter, thumping my leg. “I love these women!” I yelled gratefully. My personal favourite was from Helena who locked a potential suitor in the bathroom with her, whispering, “Here I am. Waxed, randy and ready. There are shower facilities if you need hosing down.”
Anyway apologies for my absence. I went abroad again. (My holidays for 2012 both happened within a week of each other which at the time was very jolly indeed – but now they’re over it all feels slightly gloomy.)
..And I am amused to report that The Man and I went to Greece on an actual package holiday last week. Remember them? Eh? Package holidays? Zante for £14o all in, that sort of thing? Somewhere during the noughties, package holidays ceased to exist in my head and I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why.
Because – here’s the thing – they’re BRILLIANT! What’s not to love? You pay next to nothing, you don’t have to negotiate with a gittish rip-off merchant standing at the gateway of a grotty beach shack complex and you don’t have to vacillate frantically between airline websites looking for non-existent deals. In fact, you don’t really have to do anything. You just get on a website, choose somewhere that looks nice from a list of nice-looking places, hand over a pitifully small amount of money and BAM – you’ve got a week in paradise.
Last time I went on a package holiday I was 21. I had just graduated and me and my thirteen best girlfriends got a holiday to Corfu off of Teletext for, like, a hundred quid or something ridiculous. It was as you’d imagine. Lucy Robinson arrived at the poolside on day one with her entire lady garden on display due to a malfunction with her new bikini and stood chatting to her friends and a nice honeymooning couple for a good half hour before anyone told her that she had her pubes out. (If any of you are reading, I still think you’re a load of bastards for that.)
Lots of screaming took place during the week. Lots of ouzo was drunk. We composed a dance routine to S Club’s ‘Don’t stop moving’ and performed it at every bar we went to, even nice distinguished bars in the old town during the day time. Someone snogged a waiter. Someone else went skinny dipping. I ran a scarf workshop one evening where I taught everyone how to achieve a faux-hippy look with a cheap scarf and a few hairgrips and we all went out looking like faux hippies. In all honesty, I only really pulled it off with about two of my friends; the rest (myself included) looked like ewoks.
Terrible wine was drunk. Lots of feta was eaten. Skin was burned. Our friend Claire, who was the only one who couldn’t come because she was on a narrow boat with her boyfriend in Norfolk, went mental and fled the narrowboat, running screaming into our apartment one evening after spending a small fortune flying out on a scheduled flight to find us. (This caused such intense screaming that the owners screamed at us in Greek. It was a scream-off.)
Screaming continued throughout the week; girls are wont to scream when they are together and alcohol is near.
We hired the dodgiest taxi drivers on the island to take us to the old town and got dumped at a nightclub strip that had closed down. We befriended a stupid leathery fool on the beach who offered watersports and lamentable flirtation; he ‘took us out on a luxury cruise’ one night to a village along the coast but on the way back his boat failed and we were adrift in the middle of a pitch black sea. When someone found a torch we shone it on him and found him holding the boat’s steering wheel in his hands: it had become disconnected from the boat. He scratched his head and asked if anyone knew what to do.
We got through more tzatziki than anyone has ever eaten before. We passed out drunk and left our windows open, waking up to bodies that looked like the surface of the moon after a night being feasted on by mosquitos.
One night as we were performing The Routine, I caught sight of myself in a mirror and decided in my drunken wisdom that I looked amazing when dancing. My friend Alisa did the same. We lost ourselves for a good thirty minutes, dancing at ourselves in the mirror with intense faces, occasionally shouting something like “I just feel so sexy, don’t you? So free. Look at me. Mmmm.”
As I said, it was all as you’d expect.
So I was a little nervous about this follow-up, eleven years later with The Man in tow. I was scared I’d come across loads of nubile little 21 year old Lucy Robinsons (not that I was ever nubile, I was just fat really) and her mates, screaming and doing dance routines to like, Sean Paul or something dreadful.
I was wrong. It was paradise. We were almost the only guests in a lovely place with a big pool and sea views at the foot of a mountain. We were surrounded by colourful flowers and no mozzies. We ate like kings and bimbled around in a stately Fiat Panda on almost empty roads. Not a vomming graduate in sight. Not a whiff of S-Club. No screaming at all, except when I tried to get into the sub-zero sea one day and that screaming was cut short very abruptly when I went breathless and sort of passed out.
In fact, were it not for one thing – one key ingredient, I could have declared those two holidays as distinct as, I dunno, a minibreak in Baghdad during 2005 to a naturists’ hiking holiday in the Peak District.
But there was one thing that linked them.
And that thing was The Gyros.
The Gyros, not to be confused with the envelope of death known in Britain as The Doner Kebab, is a culinary package more perfect than any last minute deal.
I was introduced to The Gyros many years ago by my friend Nadia. She is posh and beautiful and probably the last person you’d expect to eat something that looks like a dirty kebab but I suppose one should never judge a book by its cover. Nadia looks fussy and dainty; the gyros looks filthy and dangerous. Neither are the case.
I have never forgotten my first gyros, and nor will I. Filled with freshly-grilled pork that crapped all over the best hog roast I’ve ever had in the UK; tzatziki so thick and delicious you want to dive into it yelling “CREAMY GOODNESS, CREAMY GOODNESS, CREAMY GOODNESS.” Fresh salad. Chips that taste like chips rather than water. All packaged in proper, thick, real Greek pitta. Not that weird shit we eat in the UK.
Oh God, The Gyros. The Gyros. The Gyros.
So, the fact that I was able to introduce The Man to this culinary masterpiece, this festival-in-your-mouth – well, it was an emotional time.
But he didn’t let me down. Oh, he delivered. The Man bit into his gyros, stared at me and wept. He wept into his gyros and I wept into mine. “Thank you,” we both whispered, looking vaguely over towards the town church. “Thank you for this gyros.”
The next day The Man forced me to go on a one-hour detour so I we could get gyros again. Here I am eating it (this time I was a bit less naughty and had gyros-in-a-box cos I tend to get a bit ill when I eat gluten.) And now, it’s Friday night and the rest of the world are going out razzing in preparation for Her Maj’s Diamond Jubi – but not us. We’re sitting in silence; heads bowed, sitting in silent prayer, remembering our times in Kefalonia with The Gyros.
Forget beautiful blue waters. Forget wild flowers and mountains and secluded sandy beaches. Fishing villages? Pah. Traditional dancing, tiny churches, ruins, monasteries – WHATEVER. There is one reason only to take a package holiday to Greece. A life without a gyros would be a life un-lived.
You know what to do.