Holiday horrors, home and away

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We have become used, in the past couple of years, to feeling a little uneasy at work. And with good reason: at any moment you might be sacked, made redundant, edged out by the accountants who rule the business world. Workplace paranoia means there is no feel-good factor: it is why John Major feels somewhat uneasy about the long-term prospects of his job.

Escape from work seemed to be the only certainty, the only thing you could rely on was two weeks away. Except that just now your holiday - should you be able to afford one - has never looked so insecure. In Greece, hundreds of back-packing young Brits have been stranded in Piraeus harbour and Athens airport by striking workers. In Kashmir, three holidaymakers have been kidnapped by a group of separatists protesting about their homeland security. And the French air-traffic controllers haven't even started their annual attempt to turn Gatwick airport into the biggest shanty town in the world.

Spending your holiday in Britain will not make you feel any less precarious. Want to get somewhere by train? With the train strike about to kick in, King's Cross station will soon resemble Piraeus harbour, a sad display of delayed, dismayed and dirty passengers slicking out across the concourse. Fancy a sunbathe down at Brighton? Unless you smear a North Sea's worth of total block on before you start, there is a real risk you might fry after more than 15 minutes exposure to the sun now that the ozone layer has been let go. Got tickets for the final day of the Test Match? Well, in truth you could never rely on England.

Staying at home isn't much of an option, either. Sit down in front of the telly expecting a decent match at Wimbledon and all you get are a couple of 7ft automatons firing unreturnable serves at each others' ankles. Open a bottle of wine and you discover it's French and thus you can't drink it, certainly not as long as nuclear testing is planned in the Pacific. You can't even do something mundane like watering the garden: turn on the tap and the chances are you'll find it dry, all the supply in the area diverted to your local water company chief executive's house to help him cool his wallet.

It might be best, then, to stay at work all summer: employers like nothing better than to sack in absentia. Besides, if you take a few days off, you might not just lose your job. Go away and you can't even rely on the Department of Employment being there when you get back.

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