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June 2001 - Holidaymakers

In Cornwall they call them Emmets, whilst in Devon and other parts of the West Country they tend to go by the name of Grockles.

Who am I talking about in this month's exciting edition of Nick Harvey's Comment? Why, holidaymakers of course! Those nasty horrible creatures who don't know which way to turn at the junction and wear gaudy shorts, even in the pouring rain.

I've regularly spent a week or more with them around this time of year, down in deepest Cornwall. Why I bother to go there in the middle of the summer I shall never know. Well, I DO know actually, but that's another, very long, story which I daren't digress onto this early in an edition.

Thankfully, I've now spent so much time down there at the pointed end of England, at all times of the year, that the locals have promoted me to honorary Cornishman and official NON-Emmet.

At least I now know my way round all the unsignposted back lanes and can screech the tyres round them just like the locals do.

Whilst possibly rather sensible, it would be totally hypocritical to drive slowly round the Cornish lanes, especially in view of the abuse I'm about to pour on the rest of the idiots who don't know where they're going.

Holidaymakers are all right, in small doses, but I wonder if they ever realise the net effect they have on a small community when they are in residence?

Okay, they bring business to the area, and heaven knows, there are lots and lots of areas just crying out for business at the moment; but I'll bet they don't know how much they slow that business down, just by being there.

In the narrow streets of many Cornish villages there just isn't room for the Emmets to casually wander round in the middle of the road as if they own it. Traffic just has to take priority or they'd soon complain.

I'll take money that if they got back to their hotel in the evening to be told that their dinner had been cancelled because the butcher's van couldn't get through, they'd soon take a quick reappraisal of their daytime traffic blocking tactics.

And, at this point, I'm only talking about the ones who wander about on foot!

The Americans are the worst for this casual wandering disease. There you are you see, madam; it was only a couple of months ago I had my first good go at the Yanks, but they've already become another on my long list of pet hates to attack on a regular basis.

It's all made worse by the fact that your average Yank is about twice as wide as an Englishman. Apart from the fact that they're all twenty-five stone, sorry, three hundred and fifty pounds as they prefer it; they're made all the wider by the forty-three cameras they've got hung round their necks.

I am of the firm opinion that something goes wrong with the finger muscles of American tourists the minute they set foot on a plane or ship.

Where as the wonderful British go on holiday with one Instamatic, and actually adjust the focus before taking a snap, the Yanks don't seem to be able to cope with a focus ring when they're on holiday.

This, in my humble opinion, is the reason they carry dozens of cameras round their necks.

Before they leave the States, they set each camera for a different focus setting; and then when they're over here they just choose what to shoot, work out how far away it is, and use the camera already set to the necessary focus to take the picture.

I've been working on that theory for many years and can't come up with a decent alternative, so if YOU think you know a better explanation, please drop me a line after you've read the rest of this month's edition.

Nowadays, of course, the Yanks also have three or four video cameras with them; and there was me thinking it was only the English who took everything except the kitchen sink on holiday!

The tremendous rate at which the Americans eat, makes me wonder how long it will be before we see them wandering around with a battery powered microwave on a strap round their necks as well.

Anyway, enough about foreigners, at the end of the day, they're not much worse than our lot, especially as our lot tend to bring their cars along on holiday with them.

Most small Cornish villages now, very sensibly, ban all day visitors from bringing their cars into the place. You have to park well outside the village and then walk from there.

This makes the problem of our pedestrian pedestrians very much worse; but at least, lessens the number of cars which are jammed between the buildings in the narrow streets by their wing mirrors.

Yes, for those of you who have never ventured into some of these far away places, some of the streets really ARE that narrow.

I usually fold my wing mirrors in before I spend any time driving round down there as it saves on the touch-up paint when you get home.

Mr Average Dimwit Emmet however, does not bother to take this basic precaution!

When Mr Emmet drives forwards into the gap which is two inches narrower than the total width of his car, including the wing mirrors, he suddenly hears this strange grinding noise, and then stops.

Anyone with an ounce of intelligence realises at this point that the paint on the mirrors is already scratched and that there is nothing to lose by continuing in the forward direction.

Oh no, not Mr Emmet! His immediate reaction is to try reversing out of the gap!

Anyway, having ripped both the mirrors off the sides of the car by changing direction at a most inappropriate time, he stops again, a little further back and in the middle of the road, to get out and examine the damage he has just inflicted on his pride and joy.

This is where you hear him come out with such wonderful quotes as "why isn't this a dual carriageway anyway?" or "why don't they knock these stupid buildings down and widen the road?"

At this point he has totally forgotten driving straight past all the warning notices telling him how narrow it is and that "extreme care must be exercised".

Whilst he's standing there, expounding his cock-eyed theories about who else's fault it is that there are two smashed wing mirrors on the floor, he forgets that the traffic jam he has started by stopping, is now stretching right back to the outskirts of the village.

Somewhere back in the queue is that butcher's van with his rump steak for the evening meal on board!

I think the biggest problem with holidaymakers is that they also think that they can take a holiday from reading signs.

If they actually took a bit of notice of the warning signs, they'd probably end up having a much happier time. After all, they ARE on holiday, so they presumably have the odd second of spare time which could be put to good use in sign reading.

Anyway, that's my theory, and I'm sticking to it.

July is the appointed date for the next edition of this piece of nonsense to appear, so, if you're not on holiday, I hope you'll join me then.

In the meantime, I think I urgently need to go to Cornwall! Right, I'm off, where's me suitcase?

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