June 12, 1940…

As German troops marched into Paris this Friday, furious British holidaymakers found their plans in tatters. “It baffles me how our government can stand by and allow jackbooted thugs to spoil our holiday,” said Barry Snark, 42, a painter and decorator from Glossup, who also believes the Nazi advance poorly timed. “June is the height of the season and now we have to swap our day walking along the sunny Seine for a rubber dinghy paddled across the Channel under a moonless sky. I’ll be writing to Herr Hitler to demand compensation for the money we’ve lost on the hotel. I’ll also be contacting Tripadvisor about the manager, Mr Goldstein, who fled during the night and wasn’t there in the morning to serve breakfast. Three stars my ****!”

The sentiment was shared across Europe. As Warsaw burned, Ted Filller, a hub adjustment technician from Wigan, was contemplating a long trip back to Blighty with his wife Pru. “I was vaguely aware of the world situation, but one hardly expects it to affect one personally. This was just meant to be a relaxing getaway for me and wife, staying with her distant family. How were we supposed to know that her distant family had been butchered by the Gestapo? The government should have warned us before we spent all that money travelling here.”

Meanwhile, holiday makers in Germany who ignored travel advisories appear to be having the worst of it. Said one disgruntled traveller: “We’re being held in an internment camp outside Berlin and nobody has a clue how long this nightmare might last. Some say it could be as long as two weeks, which is simply intolerable. If the children don’t return to school, the headmaster will be furious!”

As war rages, public discontent was also rising in the UK where the government has issued new instructions about the compulsory carrying of gas masks. “It’s very cumbersome on the hip,” said Florence Tasche, a florist from Shropshire, who became the first person to be fined for not carrying her mask. “It’s not like I’m going to ever wear it,” she added. “I read that Neville Chamberlain brews the gas in his bathtub but it’s only activated by wearing the mask whilst listening to the songs of Vera Lynn… They must take us for fools!”

When we raised the matter with government officials, they said that people should have been aware of the dangers of holidaying during a World War given a decade of escalating of tensions, but that wasn’t enough for Mr Filler who now intends to speak to a lawyer upon his return. “I don’t get many days off a year, so, when I do, I expect quality service and minimal ethnic cleansing. That’s something these fascist dictators should consider the next time they hatch plans to conquer Europe.”

7 thoughts on “June 12, 1940…”

  1. This is so spot on!. I remember saying to my wife at the end of June that you had to be nuts to book a holiday abroad, it wasn’t rocket science. I don’t think this has anything to do with intelligence though, I know people who would be deemed intelligent with good jobs who have been caught up in this, they were already mithering before they went away about the chances of having to quarantine, so it had clearly entered their thinking.

    They are a type of person who suffers from being self indulgent while having no self control to offset it. It is the person who gets a mortgage that is 5 times their salary and then blames the bank for lending them the money when they lose their house. It is the person who buy an expensive car on the never never and then cries when the monthly repayments mean they can’t afford to do anything else. It is the person who stuffs their face nonstop with crap and then moans about being fat. It is a desire for instant gratification and damn the consequences. Waiting for something good is never an option.

    A couple of funny things watching peoples reactions on this. Firstly, people think they are entitled to a foreign holiday!, it’s as if not having one would infringe their human rights. My parents were 40 and 45 respectively before they made it abroad just the once, it didn’t destroy their lives. Secondly, the touching concern of British holidaymakers for the Spanish economy, I don’t even know where to begin on that one, except maybe I was wrong in saying it wasn’t about intelligence.

    We have become (and I mean people in the West in general) like a bunch of spoiled brats whose parents are too busy engaging in a popularity contest to provide any level of discipline. In many ways I can’t understand why holidaymakers are even upset, everyone knows the government isn’t going to enforce their quarantine anyway, the same way it didn’t enforce the lockdown and doesn’t seem very interested in enforcing anything else. The effect of the constant u-turns could be seen when several holidaymakers said they expected the government to change their mind before they came back, and you know that they have a good chance of being right.

    In the shops today everyone was wearing a mask which was good to see, especially as no one was wearing one on Thursday before the law came into force. It makes it that bit harder for the idiots to not conform when everyone is seen to be complying. Still only 30 cars in a 330 space train station car park which was also good to see. With regard to masks, the reluctance to do something for your own benefit certainly isn’t something new, I was just reading about how long it took to get everybody to wear seatbelts in the UK. Even seven years after all new cars had been fitted with them only 27% of people were wearing them. Presumably you got the same type of gripe as with masks, “ooh they chafe my armpits”. I remember it becoming law in 1983, that was 11 years after the ball had started rolling on legislation, immediately seatbelt use was observed to be 90%. There is a lesson there, people need to be TOLD, not asked. Again I do wonder though, what type of person thinks I’m not wearing a mask up until the last minute when it becomes law?.

    Rant concluded.

    1. Oh but I *thoroughly* approve of this rant. The same thoughts have been eating away at me all weekend listening to people complaining about the inconvenience of the pandemic spoiling their holidays. I agree that it has nothing to do with intelligence. There’s something very peculiar in human nature that means people can’t adapt to change. But I wonder if it doesn’t go deeper. My lurking suspicion is that Thatcherism was so powerful because it tapped into something quite fundamental about behaviour. Identifying yourself as a consumer becomes a powerful stimulus towards acting a certain way. That was my motivatioin for writing this: the idea that you’ve bought a holiday and even a World War shouldn’t override your rights as a consumer.

      I heard of somebody being ejected from our local Tesco for not wearing a mask and it cheered me up. Hadn’t thought of the seatbelt argument but you’re right. People will get used to it and it will become a new normal. It’s also a normal I’d welcome. Japan has a much better (and healthier) attitude towards not sharing germs and it’s time we learned it ourselves. Disgusting when you think about how people in the UK will take out an old hankie, give it a shake so all the old particles of dried snot take to the air, and then refill it with another snoot full of the creamy stuff.

      Secondary rant over but only because I have to get another piece of writing finished. I could go on and on about this…

  2. As an aside. I’ve just remembered that the 12th June 1940 was when my grandad was captured with the rest of the 51st Highland Division at St Valery En Caux.

      1. Yes, that generation really did have something to moan about. The depression, the war and then (true) austerity, only to find themselves all too often held in contempt by the baby boomers that they spawned. It’s telling that he thought that some extremely brutal experiences he had were nothing remarkable, certainly nothing worth writing about, as he had been urged to do several times.

  3. Spot on and very funny David. Agree with everything you and Rob have said. Although I’m not entirely sure I agree that its nothing to do with intelligence. Education maybe?

    1. Thanks Max. I think what I mean is that it’s really hard for some people to escape the bubble of their own comfort. It’s at the root of so many arguments about British exceptionalism; that sense that we’re not part of the big bad world. Perhaps you’re right about education. There are too many stories of rich young backpackers (often with good university places waiting for them on their return) having their throats cut in some awful place and people then blaming TV shows for never portraying their privation. We are too cossetted from the reality of the real world.

      Like Rob said, it baffles me that anybody would book a holiday knowing there’s a pandemic; shocking that they would complain. Yet here we are. I know of at least one teacher who booked to go to Spain last week. You’d have thought they’d have known better. Maybe ‘dumb’ is the word we should use but it doesn’t really explain it.

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