Claudia Winkleman: Take It From Me

'Somewhere in her subconscious she'll know that Mummy and Daddy left her behind. So they could get a tan'
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The Independent Online

"Hello. This is Lizzie from Abercrombie and Kent. How can I help you?"

"I'd like to go away, please."

"Great. You've called the right place. Where would you like to go?"

"Somewhere sunny. Um. But I'm thinking of just going with my husband."

"OK then. That'll be two people. Somewhere hot."

"Do you think that's a good idea?"

"A good idea? Um. Most definitely. Lovely to get away and spend some time in the sun."

"The little one is only one."

"I see."

"So she won't remember."

"Well. Quite. So, are you thinking Caribbean? Or maybe Dubai?"

"Although they've done new studies that show children can recall more than we think."

"Right. Well, I don't have any children but I'll certainly remember that. Thank you. Now, back to the booking. Can I have your name please?"

"So, somewhere in her subconscious she'll one day know that Mummy and Daddy left her. You know, to get a tan."

"Would you like to call back at another time or shall we keep going?"

"No. We must book. It's important. You know. Husband and wife. Alone time. Chatting. Afternoon sex."

"I see. Well. We can help you with that."

"No. I don't think we want anyone else to get involved at this stage. I mean, I'm sure we will. We'll get to a point when another friendly person with a bottle of baby oil will seem like a natural diversion."

"Um. Sorry. I didn't mean – help you with that – I meant, I can find a great place for you and your husband to uh... relax."

"I see. Too much information. Sorry. You must know I'm not suggesting your company offers up that kind of thing."

"No. No. Let's get back to the booking."

"But the older one will remember. He will know that by packing our bags and leaving we're choosing to have a holiday rather than staying at home with him."

"OK. Maybe you would like me to look at hotels that have a kids' club, and then you could take them with you?"

"It won't be the same. The long flight. The little one will cry and the big one won't sleep. And then the being away with them but not playing with them? I don't really get the kids' club thing. Aren't we going away to be with them? And I think we need to be without them. No. It would be weird."

"Alrighty then. So if I can have your names and your preferred time to go."

"I think it's best to go when he's at school."

"Fine. So half-term is out, but I'll look into times around then."

"Because then he has diversions."

"Yes. Good. So. Let's talk about destinations and budget."

"I don't really want to fly."

"I see."

"It's just that I'll panic on the plane. What if it... you know. Crashes?"

"Air travel is extremely safe, but of course it's totally up to you. But why don't we look at Scotland or the Lake District?"

"Is it sunny there though?"

"Well it is January so I'm thinking that's a no."

"So you're saying I have to get on a plane."

"If you want the sun in January then it's probably a good starting point."

"Or I could just get Becky round. She does a spray tan. She's great. It really looks good. A bit orange but OK."

"Well, I'm sure Becky is lovely but it's not the same as a holiday. Are you positive you don't want to talk this over with your husband and call me back?"

"She charges 35 quid and it just takes five minutes."

"If you would like to go ahead there's a really small wonderful hotel that I think you should consider in Antigua."

"Problem is, it starts getting patchy."

"I'm sorry. You've lost me."

"The tan. By the third day you look weird. Especially the ankles."

"This hotel can be booked on a half-board basis and all the rooms look out to the ocean."

"They can put a man on the moon but they can't do anything about patchy fake tan."

"Um. Why don't we have this talk again tomorrow?"

"I'm going to think about it. You've been great."

****

TOMORROW

"Hello, this is Lizzie from Abercrombie and Kent speaking."

"Lizzie, it's me."

"Well that is good news"

"Do you mean that?"

"Absolutely. Now are you ready to make a booking."

"Have any of your friends got kids?"

"Two of my friends and my sister. Yes. They have children."

"And do they leave them? And if they do, are the children scarred?"

"I don't believe they are."

"Do you want to call them on the other line and I'll hold."

"Uh. OK. Sure"

"Sam? Hi. It's Lizzie. You know when you and Mike left the kids last autumn? Well how did it affect Joe and Martha? Uh-huh. Yeah. OK. Thanks"

"What did she say?"

"She said that the children punished her when she came back and ignored her and that she missed them towards the end of the holiday but it was really good. And she had a bath with a book. She said I should pass that on."

"Great. That's good. Thank you. None of my friends leave their children."

"Ah."

"So I don't know what to do."

"Shall we talk options. There's the Maldives, which is like paradise on earth. Or there's the Caribbean, which is easy to get to and the beaches are fantastic. Or there's Marrakech, which is nearer home and really quite beautiful."

"Let's go for the first one."

"OK. Now. First thing's first. What's your name?"

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