Wednesday, February 2, 2011


I once went to Pontins on holiday. I was quite young at the time; old enough to remember some of the experience, but young enough that, upon arriving at our destination and performing the obligatory toilet-visit, I asked my dad if he'd buy me some sweets from the vending machine on the wall therein, having got the name of the actual item context mixed up with bon-bons.

I've also been to Butlins*, but I mention that only out of fairness to the brands. In all honesty, you could probably change the word 'Pontins' to 'Butlins' at any point in this ramble and it'd make about as much sense.

Shortly after we arrived we had a look around the main building's gift shop, my parents no doubt dragged in by me in my life-long quest to be thoroughly disappointed by complete tat. I remember that my parents bought me a cassette of Pontins music which, due to their mascot being a large, furry crocodile, was essentially a mix-tape of bad Elton John covers.

Slightly less shortly after we had arrived, we went to our room/chalet/shack/cell and my mother set about cleaning the place. This seemed to be the wrong way round, even to my still-forming senses of logic and reason, but I let it pass.

The rest of the holiday's memories are slightly disjointed and are coming back in fits and starts....

One is about going for a family ride on a four-wheeled bicycle, which would probably be more accurately described as a quadcycle, but that may give you an image of a mode of transport which may seem in some way exciting. It involved a leisurely cycle (well, not for my dad- his job was to wheeze and strain as he hauled the rest of us over regularly placed sleeping policemen) around the complex. I'm not entirely sure whether the large white blobs patrolling the holiday camp's perimeter were really there or have since been pasted in by an imagination I'm starting to recognise is slightly damaged.

Another is of being forcibly extracted from the proximity of my parents and being made to compete in various sporting activities with other incarcerated holidaying children. I remember acquiring a couple of medals throughout the activity and, given past and future achievements in matters of sport, I can only conclude were handed out arbitrarily.

And the final Pontins memory that springs to mind is of my family and I having escaped the immediate grounds and gone for a walk to the beach. We were almost there when the Pontins management discovered that we'd slipped through their net and unleashed a swarm of hoverflies that drove us back.

I'm sure that there was a point to this little reminiscence, but it, and whatever prompted it, has escaped me and may never return. Because of this, I don't really have a way to end it so I may well ju

* It strikes me that these two brands of holiday camp are much the same in terms of focus and overall experience, and that it is essential that a young family goes on holiday to one or the other at least once. This is not because the experiences I had were in any way, shape or form describable as 'good', but because if future holidays don't live up to much you can always fall back on "at least we're not at Pontins/Butlins."