Sometimes the idea for a column can arrive with remarkably little fuss, like a ninja in marshmallow clogs, causing me to exclaim: "Hold on. Did I just have an idea? I think I might just have had an idea. I think I need to go to bed. Set the TiVo for My Big Fat Gypsy Car Wash and wake me in an hour."
Other times an idea will kick down the doors of my conscious mind like an outlaw in a black hat entering a Western saloon, causing the pianist to immediately stop what he was playing and the showgirl on stage to stop twirling her feather boa and make a bolt for the Ladies.
Thankfully, this second scenario was the one which played out last night, providing me with an idea for this week's In The Red. Apart from anything else, this will mean there won't be a big white space in the newspaper where my column is meant to be. Like nature, The Independent abhors a vacuum. Unless it's a really expensive Dyson and we've given it good marks on our Ten Best page.
The idea's arrival happened as I hung up some washing. Now, I should stress that this was no ordinary laundry. It took hours for me to complete it. I had ignored the dwindling stock in my sock drawer for too long, so there was a teetering mountain of somewhat aromatically challenged white-towelling foot apparel in the bedroom, and my wife had suggested, as she tried to force my head into the microwave oven, that I might like to do a dedicated sock wash next time I was in the neighbourhood.
So there I was: grazed, stinging face still covered in Germoline, hanging up my 342nd sock, when this week's column idea entered with a flourish, stage left.
And here it is: this week I should like discuss everyone's holiday plans. And, by "everyone's" holiday plans, I of course mean "my" holiday plans. Well, "ours". Prior to embarking on the Great British Sock Hang, I had sat down with my wife that evening and tried to work out where and when we were going to go on holiday. And, given the fact that a squelching holiday in Sandbag Central (Great Britain) is currently about as appealing as receiving an appendectomy in a moving bobsleigh without anaesthetic, we have decided to go abroad. Abroad is where the sun shines like… well, like the sun ought to.
So far, it looks like this: apart from a few weekends here and there, our main holiday will take place in September and shall see us driving around Tuscany, before heading to Venice, and then spending a few days in Slovenia. I shall, of course, keep you posted on developments.
If you get a moment in your chores, be they laundry-related or otherwise, get in touch and let me know your travel plans. The person sending in the most fantastic holiday idea will receive a freshly washed pair of my socks.