YOUR HOLIDAY DISASTER

Jamaica is a holidaymaker's paradise - unless you happen to be Steve Bywater

You can forget about all the scare-stories that you're likely to hear when you plan a holiday in Jamaica. I went for three weeks and the biggest threat I faced was from myself. My partner, a seasoned visitor to the island, has subsequently dined out on tales of the accidents I was so prone to.

I was fairly pleased with my pre-holiday planning, remembering to buy a fat wad of travellers cheques before I left the country. However, on the second day I managed to make my face even redder than the first day's sun had turned it, remembering that the cheques were still in London. Of course, the great thing about travellers cheques is that they're replaceable so I ordered some new ones over a hotel telephone. I returned to the blinding sun of the beach in a triumphant mood - and walked head first in to an imposing wooden parasol.

On the following evening, a mixture of strange-tasting lobster tails in a Chinese restaurant combined with far too much sun led to what I thought was sun-stroke. The main symptom of which was the most exaggerated case of diarrhoea I have ever experienced.

After a heavy course of tablets, I felt strong enough to face a tour of the island by car, in fact I felt ready for my first cold beer and still have a photograph celebrating this event. The appetite was returning and I managed some deliberately bland food. However, on the way back to the guest house my period of remission came to an untimely end and I was horrified to find myself running along a Montego Bay tourist street desperately searching for a secluded spot to "relieve my discomfort". Such were my symptoms that my partner and I agreed I should seek hospital attention in the morning, should I make it through the night. I was quickly seen by a very reassuring doctor and things gradually improved from then on.

Unfortunately this gave me the opportunity to indulge in activities such as diving from rocks into the sea at Negril. The first time I tried this I cricked my neck. The resulting pain became more severe over time and I adopted the unorthodox posture of somebody who cannot look left or right without rotating their entire body.

A few days later I hired a mask and snorkel for some underwater exploration. The man who loaned them to me suggested a pair of flippers because they would protect me from treading on sea urchins. Knowing nothing about the appearance or defence mechanisms of these creatures I ignored his advice. I wonder if you can guess which of the four divers surfaced with long, black, painful spikes sprouting from his big toe?

My partner and I often look back at the photographs from our holiday, but I have some photographs which she hasn't seen. They're X-rays stored at a London hospital showing the top of my spine and the vertebrae I later discovered I had crushed while diving in Negril.

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