I've spent the past week in Cornwall, enjoying fine food, great weather and excellent beaches. Next, I'll be practising my Spanish in out-of-the way villages and inns. But I don't know what is the more frightening prospect for all holiday-makers this coming week - staying in Britain, putting your money where your mouth is and boosting local communities, or taking the ferry to Europe and saving money with a camping holiday hosted by our EU neighbours. If you stay in Britain, you face the very real danger that you might be strolling around a bit of reclaimed parkland somewhere in Yorkshire, or waiting for a bus in Blackpool, when a cavalcade will turn the corner and you'll be right in the middle of a John Prescott photo opportunity.
Big Bad John plans a series of regional visits to frontline workers during his hands-on period of running the country during August. You still have 48 hours to make your escape plans. We are told Mr Prescott can't reveal his exact route - for security reasons. Perhaps if citizens knew he was coming to their neighbourhood, they might all dress up as cowboys and turn the visit into a local festival, or rush down to the Co-op, purchase several boxes of eggs, and take up good vantage points for a free floor show. By the way, when government spokesmen talk about meeting those on the "front line", I am extremely amused. To most of us at the present time, the front line is in Southern Lebanon, Baghdad or Kabul - it is not doing a job you are paid to do somewhere in England, no matter how worthwhile that occupation might be.
If the Government paid key workers such as nurses, teachers, firefighters and ambulance crews properly, they wouldn't have to send redundant politicians like Mr Prescott around to "boost" morale when they can't think of anything better to do. How much more I would respect Prezza if he announced he was going green this August, had taken up cycling, started wearing recycled clothing and opened up his house for a party for poverty-stricken local pensioners trying to manage on crap government handouts. Instead, he is filling the month with grandiose, meaningless gestures which will cost us money to put into action, involving extra security, chauffeurs, and aides preparing the twaddle he will mouth at each stopping-off point.
But if you decide to take the boat to France this summer, another, even more frightening prospect awaits you - Margaret Beckett and hubbie Leo, on their annual caravanning holiday, accompanied by security staff, walkie-talkies, sniffer dogs, and in full radio contact with Condie at all times. How I loathe caravans, with or without our hapless Foreign Secretary in them! You can't imagine her US counterpart popping on a pinnie and doing a spot of washing-up in her mobile home parked up in a layby in Louisiana, can you? Israel and Hizbollah might be committing war crimes on an hourly basis, but clearly nothing comes before Mrs Beckett's love of an award-winning caravan complete with floral-patterned plastic interior, shower and built-in lavatory.
When caravanners talk about "the freedom of the road" what they mean is the freedom to cause 15-mile tailbacks as they pootle along preventing anyone from overtaking. When parked, they constitute a monumental eyesore, the biggest argument yet for towing them all to the Isle of Wight and sending in guided missiles on a mission of destruction. Caravans are style-free, ugly, environmentally polluting and used by people who delight in taking all their food with them, right down to tins of potatoes. I know - my own parents used to do this. And don't tell me caravans are trendy - they are not. Cath Kidston has designed tents, not mobile homes, and the only pop stars I know who use them do so when on tour, standing stationary at a stadium gig. Once off stage, it's straight off to the nearest five-star hotel. Caravanners put as little money as possible into the local economy - it's all about cutting costs and taking a little bit of England everywhere you go. It screams xenophobia, lack of adventure, Little Britain.
We don't have to be worried about being seen as a Third World country: with Mrs Becket and John Prescott running the show, the message comes across loud and clear - we are at bargain-basement level. But at least they are not as publicity-seeking as the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, who has stupidly crossed swords with one of the most media-savvy entrepreneurs around, Michael O'Leary, the CEO of Ryanair. The bishop said it was selfish and sinful to take jets on holiday and pollute the planet. Picking on ordinary people who have saved for months to take a break, when the Church of England is haemorrhaging believers, is surely shooting yourself in the foot.
Mr O'Leary counterclaims that air travel is responsible for four per cent of global warming, animals for 25 per cent. He is right to point out that it would be better to increase the taxes on older, dirtier aircraft, but it would be smarter if the Government gave tax incentives to those who made all their journeys carbon-neutral. And has anyone checked if Mr Blair and Mrs Beckett are doing just that as they set off for Barbados and the Côte d'Azur? Every time Mr Blair whooshes around on a jet-ski or swanks past swimmers in a gas-guzzling speedboat, can I assume that another copse has been planted back home?
Nice work: The staff who hit the bottle for the company's sake
When you ask for a glass of wine down at your local today, you might care to recall a piece of jiggery- pokery a drinks distribution company got up to in an attempt to win the lucrative contract to sell its wines to the brewery chain JD Wetherspoon. Senior managers in the Bristol area sent employees an email asking them to pop out and buy eight bottles each of the plonk they supplied to the chain, in order to artificially create huge demand for their wines. The workers were allowed to put their purchases on expenses.
Case study: One-way packing - it's the latest holiday fashion
July will prove to have been the hottest on record - boom time if you stock bottled water, barbecues and garden chairs. But for clothes shops it's another story: sales are down. Visit a big Tesco or Asda, however, for a new phenomenon - women buying holiday gear they will chuck before coming home. Bikinis, socks, pants and bras - why wash, when these essentials are only £5 a packet? Once only rock stars boasted they wore things once and slung them. Now the rest of us are saying goodbye to Travel Wash and hello to disposable living.
Critical list: Resorts suffer all year long when visitors fall ill
Why does the hard-pressed National Health Service in Cornwall - with high unemployment and a large number of poor residents - have to foot the bill for caring for the thousands of holiday-makers who arrive at this time of year and then get ill? The population probably doubles in summer, and the local community suffers in the long term when its health trust can't balance the books and has to cut staff. There ought to be special grants from a central government fund to help out holiday areas.Reuse content