No sex, please - I'm on holiday

To romp or relax? No contest, says beleaguered boyfriend Simon Bell. Just wake me up for dinner

A Scandinavian once warned me never to marry a Scandinavian. Have an affair, a one night stand, coffee even, but not marriage. The reason, he said, is that Scandinavian girls get very moody in winter, but as soon as the snow starts to thaw so do they. It took me a moment to realise it was the moodiness he missed, not the spring in their sex life.

Outside a nightclub in Oslo early one spring, his observation was confirmed by the staggering amount of blistering sex up against the melting drifts. We might call this The Springtime Catalyst, if it didn't sound so much like a Robert Ludlum novel.

Summer, however, is a different barrel of gunpowder. It's the heat, of course. The blood is warmed, the senses mellow and we don't wear pants. After its winter's hibernation in a pair of Bjorn Borg restriction briefs (pertinently Scandinavian), suddenly the old courting tackle is knocking nostalgically against the inner thigh once more. And so we go on holiday with our partners to places where it's even hotter and we wear even less.

For me at any rate, this is where the problem really starts. I've split up with more girlfriends on holiday than in any other identifiable situation. France 4, Greece 2, Spain 2, Italy 1, Venezuela 1, United States of America 1 (no score draw). In fact, almost the only place I haven't split up with someone is Split. There are several reasons for this phenomenon. The girls I know, at any rate, go on holiday for togetherness, and boys for otherness. Having been together all bloody winter, I'm thinking, let's be together on holiday - but in a relaxed way. The difference between living in the south of France and holidaying there is total. If you live there, it makes a lot of sense to go to bed together all afternoon. If you're on holiday there, where's the holiday in it?

Take Ibiza. I'm lying on Las Salinas beach and a couple of hundred semi- naked models are strolling by oozing Babe Factor One. Why on earth would I want to be in bed at the villa with the woman of my dreams when I can sleep with her next week?

In any other comparable situation the girl will understand the situation. Suppose a darling and I are visiting the Ingres exhibition and I suddenly have the urge to have sex with her up against Madame Moitessier Seated (26 inches). Unsurprisingly, she says, "But I've come to look at the paintings!" and possibly adds the feeble and unconvincing, "We'll get thrown out." Of course, it does happen that sex takes place in the back of a taxi, upstairs on a bus or in the private compartment of a train. But generally speaking the reason we're in a taxi, bus or train is to go somewhere.

Why do the rules change on holiday? If I stay up until four in the morning talking crap with some mentally retarded, blood-eyed drug dealer called Juan, it doesn't mean I don't want to have sex with Paula back at the ranch, let alone that I prefer Juan to Paula. It means I'm on holiday. If we get invited to dinner on a loathsome arms dealer's yacht and I get annoyed because Katrina wants to have dinner for two in the palm-fringed Jacuzzi "reserved exclusively for lovers" it doesn't mean I don't want to do all that. It means I'm on holiday.

So holidays far too often make things worse for me, not better. The best holiday I ever had was in Czechoslovakia, but that was because I arrived from Russia, she arrived from England and we hadn't seen each other for two months. Also, no one else seemed to be naked in Prague in November. Czechoslovakia was really only the fortunate beneficiary, not the catalyst.

It's not the fault of holidays that things should be like this. After all, when does any couple want to have sex at the same time all the time? But on holiday, the stakes are higher, or deeper, as if they're going through the heart. As a rule of thumb, it you're going to have a sex row, it's better to have it near your mates in Camden Town than on Mount Athos where the only alternative is orthodox priests.

This summer, however, I'm determined to have The Summer of Love. This means one of three things. Either I'll have to go away on my own and get lucky; or I'll have to get a new girlfriend; or I'll have to get an old girlfriend and go to a place inhabited only by sheep, orthodox priest or both and hope something rekindles.

Reading back, there seems to be quite a bit of wishful thinking here. And that just about sums up holidays for boys and girls. If only our wishes were the same.

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