We have just returned, refreshed, from a week’s holiday in the South West. Many other families were also down there, enjoying the last week before the schools returned – indeed, we met on a South Devon beach my Party Leader David Cameron, with his wife and three children, wearing the swimming trunks made famous by the national press.
Those who have recently migrated back to Hampshire from Devon and Cornwall can be identified by the following characteristics.
First, they look more relaxed than those who holidayed abroad, as they have avoided the delays at Britain’s airports and have been able to take all their favoured possessions with them, instead of leaving them behind at Heathrow.
Second, a number (of the men) are now wearing beards. This is because the bathroom in their self-catering cottage, modernised in the 1970’s, did not contain a socket for their electric shaver. So they grew a beard on holiday and, ignoring the advice from the rest of the family, have decided to keep it (and help save the planet by cutting electricity consumption.)
Third, they are very well-informed about Stonehenge. This is because they spent a lot of time in its vicinity in the traffic jam on the A303, both on the way there and on the way back. They either shared a car with someone who knew all about Stonehenge and generously spoke at length about it; or they were in a car with children and no one knew anything about Stonehenge. Shamed by ignorance, they were obliged the moment they got back to put Stonehenge into Google and to bone up.
Related to this, they have decided to write to their MP, strongly supporting the proposed cut-and-cover dual carriageway tunnel and offering to pay the necessary £300 million themselves. They don’t care if they never see the stones again.
Fourth, their rubbish bins are fuller than usual. This is because they failed to understand the subtleties of the local refuse collection service; or they understood it, but forgot that the August Bank Holiday meant that the day of collection had changed. Or the family staying in the cottage the week before had used up all the pre-paid sacks. So they had to bring home all the empty beer cans and wine bottles (did we really get through all that in a week?)
Finally, they walk with their head turned at 75 degrees, looking over their shoulders. This is because the lanes in the south west were built for horses, and two horses can pass each other, as long as their body mass indices are less than the average. The lanes are not built for cars. So when two cars meet, one has to reverse to the nearest bay. This is usually the visitor, who spends his or her time reversing down narrow lanes, and his head becomes frozen in that position. So if you want to catch my eye at the Farmers Market on Sunday, walk round to the side first.