A spot of beach art, where the other half (3/4? 7/8?) lives.
Following my completes crappola Chrimbo (who would have thought it would’ve sucked so badly that morning when I was making my Expat Exmas Message, like Her Maj?), we are now on our fabulous holiday in Boracay. Boragrad, if you must know, babeses, LOL.
Another top-notch hotelee por supesto, to wind away all the stresses and strains of my equally fabulous life. That said, even with the kids’ club, I’m rather wishing we’d brought the help along. I had forgotten the full horror of the tedium that bath and bedtime can be with Max and Mills. I am having to do it myself!! And I don’t mean supervising! So, after a full day of lounging in the sun, and attending to my rigorous health and beauty regime at the gym and spa, I then get myself all worked up on the few evenings we don’t hire a sitter, thanks to the irritants. Well happy bleeping holidays to me! Don, as always, said that bringing the helper was “unconscionable”, and that holidays should be just the family. Hmmmmm. This means that I don’t really have a holiday!! Which leads me to conclude that:
Paradise – Help = Almost Hell
Gandhi said something very similar when he observed that, “Interdependence is and ought to be as much the ideal of man as”… I’ve lost the rest of the quote, but the skinny is that it’s totes ideal for me to depend on my helper because she depends on us for her livelihood; and it’s totes reasonable for me to have a bit of a sh** hol without her.
As if things weren’t bad enough, guess, dear readers, who is here. One of my all-time least favourite members of the Singapore Expaterati: Doom and Gloom Expat Wifey. Ugh-amundo. I know you feel my pain.
On our very first day here, I noticed Mills in the pool, playing with another little girl who looked vaguely familiar. Returning my attention to my iPad edition of Vogue, I heard a kerfuffle from the pool, as an adult waded in – yes, D & G Wifey – telling Milly to stop pulling the other girl’s hair. Oh Lordy, Mills! Being the responsible parent that I am, I had no choice but to put down my iPad, and dive elegantly into the pool, to pretend to reprimand Milly. Poor kid. The other little girl, Janine, has obviously inherited her mother’s dour looks and tote lack of humour, so I’m sure she got nothing more than she deserved, but what else could I do??
Once I’d forced Mills into a half-arsed apology, I then had to make polite conversation with D & G: how lovely to bump into you, what a coincidence (yeah, right), how’s your hol, are you having a good time, ra ra ra.
She was apparently gagging for someone to talk to, because she launched straight into her standard doom and gloom diatribe. I noted from her lack of woven resort bag (only available to the upper echelons) that she must not be staying in one of the villas. Probably in the main cell block. In the timeless words of Beyoncé, “Sucks to be you right nooooow”. Wise woman, that Queen Bee.
“Oh, I suppose I’m having a good time…” she began, her dull preamble warning of so much worseness ahead.
“I wanted to go home for Christmas, or maybe skiing, but Fred’s PA couldn’t take much time off, so Fred decided we’d better not go too far away. And they’re flying back before me and the kids anyway.”
“But, babes”, I told her, “Skiing is just so wet and cold, and accidenty. And England is totes miz right now, with the yucky climate, and all that economy stuff… still… I think… Here we’ve got the beautiful relaxing beach, and the lovely weather… Um, apart from the whole tropical storm thang, but that’ll pass”.
“Yeah, I know….,” she said, and for a moment I thought she might shut up, so that I could dash back to my sun bed. Alas, alack, and mega-bummer, I was profoundly mistaken. She went on.
“It’s just that we’ve been on so many of these trips: Bali, Langkawi, Krabi, Koh Samui, Yogyakarta, Hoi An…”, she continued, as I switched off and admired how smooth my freshly waxed Brazilian was looking.
“Bla bla bla, fa ba na noo fa bla, and at this point, the whole of Southeast Asia has just merged into one big blur of white sand, palm trees, and resorts. When I look back over the years, I can barely distinguish one holiday from the next. How sad is that?!”
I re-engaged with her bla when I noticed that the gel nail on my thumb was lifting, and much as I loathe nail-biting, I found myself gnawing at it.
“And what really gets me is”, she droned on, “I’m getting so tired of being the well-off Westerner, surrounded by locals calling me Ma’am, who bow and scrape in the name of good customer service. I can’t relax when I know that the people around me are so much worse off. It’s the inequality of it all! What does it teach our children?”
[OH GOD, kill me!! JUST KILL ME NOW!!!, I thought prettily.]
“And Thailand! Just awful. We were there last year for Christmas, and I heard such incredibly devastating stories about the tsunami. Whole families, wiped out. Babies, children. I thought, how can I sit on this idyllic beach, knowing what happened right here, just a few years ago? Horrendous.”
I tasted thick saltiness, and looked down at my thumb to find that it was bleeding. The woman was boring me so much that I had actually started to bite off my own hand. Enough was enough.
“Darling sweetie babes”, I managed to say, following a quick check-in with my higher power, “The fact is that without us well-off whities coming and spending our spondooli, these nice people wouldn’t even have jobs. We’re doing them a favour! The least we can do is have a good time, honey. Don’t we owe them that much?!”
I hoped that my impassioned words might turn the situation around, but she got her mouth straight back in there: “That’s a ridiculous argument! The fact is that our spondooli, as you call it, is because of disproportionate salaries, earned through the exploitation of people just like the ones working in this hotel, borne out of their disadvantage and our good fortune. We did nothing to deserve this, any more than they deserve the poverty they come from!”
I found, then, that I was sucking my (half-eaten, bloody) thumb – something I haven’t done since childhood. Doom and Gloom Expat Wifey woman, I shouted silently in my head, it’s only Day One, and you have RUINED my holiday.
Gott sei dank, D & G’s helper suddenly appeared from nowhere, saying, “Ma’am, I am the one to take Janine for her nap?”
D & G nodded, “Yes please, Reyann”.
“Well, that’s lovely anyway!”, I chipped in, determined now to either lift this bleeping woman’s mood or get the bejesus away from her.
“At least you have the help with you!! Lucky old you, babes! Don never wants to do that, and frankly it’s a nightmare come truesome!”
“You say that”, (oh ffs, despite my awesome adorableness of niceness, she was finding a way to persist), “but the thing is that I knew she would have a better Christmas here with us than lonely in Singapore, while all her friends are working, or if we sent her home to her family. When she goes home, she comes back a stone lighter, and completely exhausted. Do you know what she does when she has a holiday at home?”
It was patently clear that I didn’t give a rat’s bottom, but evidently the woman has none of my empathic or intuitive skills when it comes to observing the responses of others. Instead of noticing that I was desperate to get back to Vogue, she…
“She works on the family farm! For fifteen hours a day, every day! Can you believe that?! And not only that -”
While she was talking, her husband’s PA sauntered over, a vision in white linen.
“Mrs Davis,” he murmured – golly, such a treacle voice for a man! how divine!!, “Mr Davis asked me to tell you that he and I unfortunately have work to do, and will be gone for some time. He’s so sorry. He booked you a few treatments at the spa, and I’m awfully sorry I didn’t let you know earlier, because the first appointment is in five minutes. There’s a buggy waiting for you at the lobby. You should probably hurry. Have a great time!”
And with that, the delightful cloud of a man floated away on the honeyed gusts of his own voice.
What a charming chappie, I thought, and how fortuitous that:
A. D & G’s sweet husband had booked her a pile of fab treatments,
2.) She was gone, and I wouldn’t have to listen to her hideous whining any longer.
I got back to my Vogue, but promptly fell asleep. I must have been plain plum tuckered by that woman’s chi. Assaulted, I would say. I have had to do a veritable sh**load of chanting since then to cleanse myself.