Tuesday, October 9, 2012
1986: I never will forget
When asked by my parents if I wanted to go on holiday with them earlier in the year, my immediate response was no. But when they said they were going to Thailand I rapidly changed my mind.
I was going out to Bahrain for part of the summer anyway, but was staying down in my uni town for a month or so. This in the end proved to be a mistake, as there was hardly anyone around and I was paying rent on a place that just had me rattling around in it. A far cry from the summer before when I'd had a high old time sticking around for the entire summer with a houseful of friends.
So it was better that I save my money and head out east. Thailand was a bit of an unknown quantity to me and most people I knew. It was beginning to turn up on people's travels but wasn't the everyday holiday destination it is today. So I was excited.
First stop was Bangkok, then onto Phuket, which was but a beach with a couple of hotels on it, unspoilt, quiet, idyllic and a million miles form the Benidorm it would later become.
We were staying in wonderful hotel in Bangkok right on the river. It was the first time I'd ever had Thai food and we saw some amazing sights. But none more amazing than the live sex show we saw - en famille.
We had gone to Thailand with another family with similar aged children, and the two dads had asked the hotel concierge if they could recommend an interesting evening out. Not to worry, sir, he was told, we'll sort everything. We clearly hadn't tipped enough as when we took our seats in a rather shabby-looking club, something was clearly amiss.
And when a half-naked girl with a bag full of dodgy looking pills and grass sat on my 17-year-old brother's knee and shook everything in his face, she was quickly shooed off by mum. But things really took a turn for the worse when the girls took to the stage and shot miniature bananas out of their, er, well you know, opened bottles of beer and fired ping pong balls into the air. And then the men entered and hence began the most embarrassing moment of my life to date: watching people having sex for real in front of one's parents.
We made our excuses and left.
Back in our hotel room my brother and I half laughing, mostly dying, dissected the events of the evening. The inter-connecting door between our our room and our parents' room suddently burst open, and in skipped mum with a bunch of baby bananas. "Hello boys!', she trilled.
I'm going cold thinking about it. At least we can laugh about it now. It's not the sort of experience shared by most people.
I thought I was so grown up back then, and didn't even really want to be seen with my parents, let alone go on holiday with them. So on the nights we did shake them off and hit the hotel bar putting drink after drink on their tab, to have the singer point at you and say, 'this is for the people who've just walked in', and start singing 'I believe the children are our future..', just piled on the humiliation. As if we hadn't been through enough already.
I remember seeing the marriage of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson as a minor item on the Thai news and on our return to the UK Lady In Red was number one. Though it's a song I despise, it will be inextricably linked with this whole affair.
Man With Red Face was at the top of my chart though.