Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Probe That Package

Package Holiday Undercover has returned to ITV1 in a new live format with a set very similar to that of Crimewatch and a telephone number permanently on the screen. The presenter told us that if they received enough calls about a particular hotel or destination they would put a reporter on a plane the very next morning to investigate.
It occurred to me that Crimewatch, which hasn't changed much in 30 years, could do something similar and take a more proactive approach to crime:

Nick Ross: we need just five more calls about 15 year old Wayne Wiggins in Luton and police officers will visit his home and start the process of serving an Anti Social Behaviour Order.
[presses finger to earpiece] I'm being told that we've just had a call from a Mrs Annabel Goodyear who saw Wayne stick a lump of chewing gum on the back of a computer monitor in the public library. So exciting developments there in Luton. We'll be back with an update after the news. But do remember that this kind of behaviour is extremely common in teenagers. So don't have nightmares. Do sleep well.

The package holiday programme, which must surely be sponsored by the English Tourist Board, was a smorgasbord of schadenfreude for those of us who never leave this sceptred isle.
There was a hotel in Kenya infested with monkeys who stole sweets from residents' bedrooms and then brazenly sat on the balconies eating them. They also invaded the dining room and took food from the plates. We saw a man leap from the table and throw his chair at one of them. This is really no way to behave towards your closest relatives. Then again, it's behaviour that's not entirely unknown at weddings and Christmas family dinners.

Next we were told of the large increase in shark attacks in South Africa and a man cheerfully told us how his leg had been ripped open. I'd like to be sympathetic but I can't help feeling that if you choose to swim with the sharks you deserve all you get.

Then we learned that an entire generation of British children are in danger of drowning in overseas hotel and villa swimming pools. Surprisingly, if you rent a private villa it doesn't come with a trained lifeguard sitting by the pool 24 hours a day. An expert was drafted in to tell us that it's important for parents to keep a close eye on young children who can't swim. Perhaps I'd have been an obsessive parent because I wouldn't let a toddler play anywhere near a deep swimming pool.

Although the reconstruction of shark attacks was preceded by a warning to viewers, no such warning was given before footage of Disneyland in France so I went and checked my email while that report was on. The programme had cruelly sent two families from Croydon on a weekend in Disneyland as though living in Croydon weren't misfortune enough for one lifetime.
I noted that a two day package holiday to Disneyland cost as much as I was earning annually in the early seventies, although I would gladly have given up my salary and sold my body on the streets of Soho rather than be sent to Disneyland.

Finally, a couple from Scotland had decided it would be a spiffing idea to get married on the island of Grenada. They had reckoned without Hurricane Ivan which swept across the island during their stay. If the earth didn't move for them, the hotel roof certainly did, collapsing in a shower of concrete.
Bizarrely, Virgin Holidays apologised for the fact that the hurricane had changed course unexpectedly and hit Grenada and refunded their accommodation costs. It seems an expensive tactic for holiday companies to take responsibility for the weather.
I think the Scottish couple should share the blame because you should never go anywhere that hasn't had a Ford named after it. Perhaps they'd confused Grenada with Granada which is as safe as houses. And Capri is absolutely delightful. Personally, I've always fancied Probe in the Balearics but I'm probably getting a bit past it now.


At 2:08 PM, Blogger cello said...

"You are spoiling us with these chocolates, ambassador."

Making up for that lost week with a vengeance, aren't you Willie.

I sort of knew you'd despise Disneyland, and the rational, cerebral, Mahler-loving, Nabakov-reading me does too.

But I have this funny little switch inside my brain that I can flick and then I find I can revel in all manner of naff and kitsch rubbish. All little girls want to be Cinderella you know, and if it's going to happen anywhere it's going to be at Disneyland.

The Disney Corporation is a completely different cup of cha, and nothing can make me admire any part of it.

I reckon you've got a similar switch, Willie, if you just look for it. In fact, are you sure you don't need it occasionally - for Corrie? *ducks from flying plastic Mickey Mouse*

At 3:44 PM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

I think 'despise' is the wrong word. Visceral hatred, ever since childhood, for anything that sprang from the warped imagination of Disney and his poor, exploited employees would be nearer the mark.

And yes, I do love all kinds of naff and kitsch things. I love Blackpool, for instance. I adore Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway....I used to like groups like Take That and Bros - they were much more life-enhancing than some of the pretentious, depressing shit that is around today.
But I don't include Corrie in that kind of category. Don't forget that this year it won an award for best drama on TV as well as best soap, even though it was up against the brilliant Shameless.

At 4:05 PM, Blogger cello said...

Wasn't casting aspersions on Corrie overall at all. Just meant that every once in a while it goes a bit kitsch - which I love! I don't have time to watch it regularly, but I had to watch Sir Ian do his bit and it was glorious.

I love Ant and Dec too, and Takeshi's Castle and even Family Fortunes and other game shows. Some people think that's not possible - an affectation even - if I also watch Die Walkure on BBC4, but not so.

I'm a bit sad that you hate *all* Disney. Even Pinnochio? And Dumbo? Hey ho. It would be very dull if we agreed on everything.

At 4:07 PM, Blogger cello said...

'Pinocchio' of course.

At 4:52 PM, Anonymous Kalista said...

Ah, Nabokov...russian literature is wonderful...

Disneyland. Hum. Always suspicious. Piped music. Hum.

At 2:52 PM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

cello, yes, I hate ALL Disney. Sorry.
It goes wider than what though because I've never liked cartoons or animation. Never seen the point of it.
Glad you like Ant & Dec though. I don't mind people not liking the kind of thing they do but I would take issue with anyone who denied that they do what they do better than anyone else.


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