Hi, it’s Juneha Chowdhury, and I’m back again as your Showcase editor for September. This is the final month of our ‘Worlds Apart’ theme and you’ll see this reflected in some holiday hilarity from me and a beautifully reflective poem from a writer new to Write On!, Bee McCormack-Henderson.
For all us mums, September marks the end of the summer holidays: Kids go back to school and Hubby’s time out is well and truly ‘timed out’. Jokes aside, I do mourn the passing of the holidays (for all of five seconds), but when I remember how eventful it’s all been, I do wonder who would want a repeat performance of all that? With that in mind, here’s my very own holiday story.
All I’d say is, that, though it might sound hilarious now, it was only barely funny at the time!
Got A Key In My Bonnet…
The phrase “He’d forget his head if it wasn’t screwed on” describes my husband perfectly.
Every time we go out, as a couple or as a family, it always begins with: “Remember where I’ve put my wallet – it’s in your bag,” or, “You’ve got my cards, and my keys, I put them in your bag.”
Our trip to Durdle Door starts off in much the same way. This is the second day of our staycation and we’re driving down from our hotel in Bournemouth to Dorset, to appreciate its number one tourist attraction.
In hindsight, there was as much foreshadowing as in a Steinbeck novel…
Be it the first time I ask him where his car keys are, just after we reach our destination, and he conveniently points his finger at my bag, until he eventually remembers he’s left them in the car and runs off in a panic to get them, or the second time, when, after paying for his parking ticket, he walks away from our bags packed with all our necessities, as though they belong to someone else. There was certainly plenty of warning there!
Approaching Durdle Door, the tourist in my husband emerges, as he appreciates how beautiful the scenery is. Looking down at the water he is mesmerised by its stunning blue colour.
“Wow, look at that, Zainab!” he says to our youngest. “It’s amazing and look, everyone’s swimming.” He smiles. “You packed my swimming clothes, didn’t you?” turning to me, he looks awfully pleased that I have.
“Dad, no!” my eldest daughter Jumaima screams out. “You’re NOT going to swim?” she begs, worried he’s going to embarrass her with his backstroke.
“Jumaima, I’m never going to have a chance to swim in water like this,” he teases. “You all walk ahead, I’ll change into my swimwear and join you.’
“Oh Lord, we’re not related!” she replies.
“Don’t forget your keys!” I shout out as he walks away from us, shaking his head in acknowledgement.
It’s a while before he returns, but we’re too busy taking pictures to be bothered by this.
“The walk down is’t that bad,” he says on approach. “But you’re gonna really feel it, going back up.”
He edges closer towards the water, still taking it all in. Then…he dives right in.
I don’t know what it is that triggers the vital question.
Maybe it’s seeing him having the time of his life, knowing that, typically, this never happens without a forfeit; or me just staring at his long shorts dipping in and out in a, “Now you see me, now you don’t,” kind of way, and, realising his pants have pockets that made me think, no way, he hasn’t, has he? Or, maybe it’s my subconscious reminding me how mishaps follow my husband around like an obsessed lover.
“Where are your keys?” I say, feeling a rising panic.
He’s still smiling. He hasn’t heard me properly.
“Keys?!” he shouts, rising up suddenly, as though the wave of thought had just hit him. “I gave them to you!” he says, fruitlessly searching his empty pockets as he rushes out of the water.
Of course you did, you idiot!
“Just check your bag, they must be in there!” he insists.
I struggle to find the least offensive expletive, as I open my bag and search the pockets one by one to reassure him there is no scope for magic.
“I was splashing around all this time without a care, I could have sworn I put it in your…”
Anyone who knows me, knows that, when all is lost, my humour isn’t.
“For the hundredth time, my love, they’re NOT in there, I can’t just pull it out of the bag… not this time!”
He turns to his other superhero girl with a bag, “Jumaima!”
‘”They’re not in her bag, either!”
My daughters chuckle – until they realise what this blunder actually means.
“We have to go back? Oh, no!” moans Zahra, with a tut and a What the fudge? expression. “Dad might need to go back to London. But can’t we stay? We only just got here.”
Her friends were eagerly awaiting the next instalment of her blog and Typical Dad, typical blunder, is not exactly what she’d had in mind.
Seeing the disappointed look on my girls faces, I mumble, “It’s such a shiiiit show,” in an accent I usually put on to humour them.
“I just knew Mum was gonna say that,” laughs Zainab.
Observing my husband’s panic as he retraces his steps and goes back in the water, I must say I do feel sorry for him. That is, until he opens his liability of a mouth.
“Can’t believe this, bleep, bleep! Someone should have reminded me!” Bleep again.
Someone? Seriously? Why? Cos your memory is never in gear?!
That’s when I let out a few bleeps of my own.
After digesting the fact this nightmare is real, I try to deal with the situation in hand, calling Toyota, then AA, and then a number of locksmiths in the area. But the quotes given ranged from over six to eight hundred pounds for getting the car back to London, or having another set of keys made, which could take up to three weeks.
My husband starts again.
“Bleep Bleep AA, I’m covered, so why are they going to charge me so much?”
Cos they don’t cover stupidity.
Not gonna lie. That’s basically what they said.
“Our best bet is to find security and explain,” I say.
“Security? What are they gonna do?”
“Do you have any better ideas?”
Please, it’s better not to.
One dirty look shuts him up.
Thankfully, the security officer Leah, is a gem of a lady. She reassures us she will put a note on her system about what’s happened, to prevent the car being towed away. So my husband can go back to London and collect his spare set of keys, knowing the car is safe in their car park for a few days.
Situation sorted, we have a very peaceful journey back to the hotel. Somewhere between leaving the station and going back to the hotel room, my husband cuts ties with his twin, ‘The Blame Guru’, and reconnects with long-lost pals, Accountability, Compassion and Guilt. It’s like I’ve found a new man!
“Keep my debit card,” he says. “and get out as much cash out as you need.”
He said what?!
“Not sure how long I’ll be.”
Why, you meeting God?
“The other key is gonna need programming, so…”
Take all the time, my love, I’ve everything I need right here: the cash, and, oh, the peace!
So, off he goes, back up to London. Within the hour, I order a huge Indian takeaway. He owes me, big time!
Fortunately for him, he’s back in Bournemouth within 20 hours, and we resume our holiday by going back to the Cove we couldn’t explore the first time round.
On our journey home, I tell Jumaima, “I’m gonna write this up for Write On! Extra.”
As always, she’s intrigued.
“What you gonna call it, Mum? Do you have a title?”
“Sort of. Not sure it works, though.”
My daughter explodes into laughter, as I say it.
“Got a key in my bonnet…or is that his pants?!”
© Juneha Chowdhury, 2022
Note: His original set of keys were found in the sea and handed in just as he was making his way back from London. But, given that they’re electric, and they’d swallowed a whole lot of water, they’re completely useless now and serve no purpose than as a souvenir!
So now you get me, I hope. My holidays are usually a combination of heavenly desires and hellish outcomes. On the flip side, there’s never a dull day when my man’s around!
The second piece I’ve chosen to showcase is a lovely poem by Bee Henderson.
I love the appreciation of nature in this poem: the skies, the seas, and also the hopes and aspirations associated with the location. Margate Sands – the focus of the poem – is not just a tourist attraction, but a place where hope is rekindled and histories revisited. The past and present status of this popular holiday resort is ‘Worlds Apart’. Most importantly, it’s now a place where you can appreciate that, though life is challenging, we can strive to live it to the max.
The sea rolls in and sings its song
Cannot be defeated
We are hopeful creatures
Ever onwards, upwards and through
This place is in all our blood
If we all came back here at once
Would the Isle of the Dead
Sink back in the sea?
Or would it break away
Fly to the moon?
A sudden unlocking of all the magic in our stardust bones
Magic and lost souls reunited
Those young men off to war
The young girls forgotten and forlorn
The brain damage of the aeons
This life is hard
But oh, such adventures to be had
On Margate Sands
I can connect
Nothing with nothing
A fish tea with a perfect coffee
Scrape, scrape, scrape back the layers
Live a little
Live a lot.
© Bee McCormack-Henderson, 2022
Connect with Bee on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram: @beemcchenderson
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