Arabella Weir: Hell is a beach full of Boden

What are people who can walk unaided and are over 15 even doing on holiday with their parents?
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Look I know I'm middle-class. I must be. I have an uncomfortable weekly tussle with organic over value-for-money in the supermarket, live in north London, and use profanities in front of my mother. It all adds up. That's the hand I was dealt and I'm not ashamed of it. I've never used the socio-economic term of reference as an insult until now. But ye gods and little fishes, where did this new breed of 4x4-driving, Boden-wearing, leather-and-bead-necklaced, MPH-bracelet-sporting, surfing, sailing middle-class tossers all come from?!

Every single one of them seems to have upped sticks from SW6, SW4 and SW-who-bloody-cares to descend upon the postage-stamp size of land that occupies the space between Padstow, Rock and Polzeath in north Cornwall. An afternoon on the beach is like being trapped with 200 floppy-haired minor public schoolboys and their PA-to-a-TV-commercial-producer girlfriends in an estate agent's office in Battersea, with their "fun'' mums and dads too. What are people who can walk unaided and are over 15 even doing on holiday with their parents? In my day, you wriggled out of the living hell that was a "family holiday'' the moment you started choosing your own knickers.

So who is mucking about with the hitherto easy-to-use lexicon for social categorising? Middle-class used to mean you read books, hankered after real coffee and were never seen to be enjoying yourself in public. Now if you're a parent, it means you don "amusing'' coloured corduroys and deck shoes, pat your wife's trim bum in front of everyone, turn for laddish approbation from other middle-aged men, and holiday in my sodding lap. If you're a teenager, it means you must surf in a death-defying fashion, shout at the top of your voice about things being "bad", "fat" and "wicked'', all while trying to pretend you are more stoned than would be feasible.

It's my own fault. I shouldn't be here. My parents are Scottish. I should be on a strip of pebbles north of the border wearing full winter-weather gear, trying to build a sandcastle with gloves on, and shouting at my children such lines from a standard script as, "This is what summer is all about'', "Don't be ridiculous, the water is not freezing'', and "for God's sake there are always midges in Scotland".

It was these fond memories that led me to wonder whether it was in fact possible to have a bucket-and-spade holiday without hypothermia. And that is how we ended up in Cornwall seduced by clement weather, astonishing scenery and the heady lure of no air travel. However, at no point in any brochure did it state that a potential visitor was going to be assaulted on a daily basis by a cacophony of "Daisy/Jemina/Max/ Havelock" - I'm not kidding - "Rosie/ Edmund attach your body board to your wrist for the last bloody time."

Why do these people get my goat so badly, I hear you ask. That's because you aren't trying to have a semblance of a break surrounded by lanky teenage boys called Luke and Jack doing excruciating renditions of Little Britain catchphrases in between trying to get off with "fit birds'' (when did hoorays start using Get Carter language?) called Tiggy and Taff.

Just as with the occasional "hoody'' sauntering down the street, on rare occasions even this lot can be quite endearing in their attempts to look hip, not seem over-privileged, and disguise their ludicrously sheltered existences. En masse they are as tedious, predictable and impossible to ignore as a squadron of low-flying aircraft.

And heaven help you if you go out for something to eat. Every establishment serving anything other than pizza wedges is manned by the older siblings of Junior Poshly-Toffington making the weakest of insouciant stabs at being waiters. Don't forget, these kids know they weren't born to serve.

It's not all bad. If your idea of the perfect holiday is hanging round with a lame version of Hugh Grant and his pals from Four Weddings and a Funeral, minus the gay couple, then come on down. Bring your lemon-yellow cords, some swimming shorts that nearly reach your ankles and a picnic basket shaped like an arse and you'll fit right in.