While we're on the subject of holidays, I have a novel idea. Pictures of politicians on holiday should be banned from publication. Whether they're in tabloids, broadsheets, magazines – hell, let's ban them from television too. OK, that may be a touch harsh. How about this: the pictures should be banned unless the specific purpose of the articles they accompany is to puncture the completely disingenuous portraits of bliss they otherwise depict.
A picture story in yesterday's Times, for instance, made me feel ill. Next to the headline "Camerons keeping a close eye on the euro", we had pictures of dandy Dave and glam Sam Cam enjoying a lovely latte at a café in Montevarchi, Tuscany. In one picture, Dave sipped away as Sam flashed her perfect smile, from behind shades whose worth I shall consult our fashion desk on. Her hair looked so lovely, her lips glowed scarlet and her plunging neckline gave just a hint of mischief. In the other picture, locals craned their necks to spot the British Prime Minister, who at that very moment cracked a frightfully funny gag.
Thankfully, some publications manage to see through the propaganda. Many other papers – including i and The Independent – carried their own versions, and as you can see by glancing to the right, these pictures will will be around for some time. The Camerons have form on this, of course. Last year they fed Fleet Street's more naive hacks pictures of themselves playing frisbee in Cornwall, Cameron wearing his best Boden shorts and an improbable smile then, too. The trouble is, that's not what family holidays are like.
What actually happens is Dad gets too tipsy on the local vintage. Mum's stressed out with him and loses her temper over what he said about her sister Mavis the previous night. Your brother's in a sulk about not getting a window seat on the plane, and your sister's being annoying about the need to buy clothes in a place not famed for shopping. This is Torquay, not Tuscany. If we're talking young families, it's all this plus nappies.
Sure, there are outbreaks of laughter. But that's usually when Dad burps involuntarily, or Mum is caught flirting with a waiter. We have quite enough propaganda from our elected representatives, without adding to it with completely insincere pictures of happy families on holiday.
None of us really need to see pictures of prime ministers sipping away in the sun, especially when at this very moment said leader is in fact wiping stinky baby juice off his polo neck.