Why Did We Once Holiday With Drunken Pirates?

This is a very good question, and one you are sure to ask one day soon.  The short answer is it was Grandad’s 70th birthday.  The long answer is the same, but in the following excruciating detail:-

It all started the way most of our holidays with Grandad start, with him talking us into going by lying about what the holiday would entail.

Grandad with big eyes, “Please-please-please! A quiet family holiday? Is that too much to ask for MY special birthday?”

A tearful Grandad had gone into great detail about how important it was to him to spend some real QUALITY time with his Grandchildren, after all, he “might not have many more years left”…  *sniff* *fake cry* *sniff*

Ten massive ladles of guilt later and the next step was for me to talk your Dad into it, which wasn’t so easy because he’d been on holiday with Grandad before.

Mum: Of Course I remember “the horror”, but come on, it’s only once every ten years. Dad: Like Pennywise from the film IT?! That can’t just be a coincidence...

I tried to point out to Grandad that we don’t really go on holiday with other people in our family and that considering we struggle to spend an hour or two together the rest of the year it might not be the best idea, and he said:-

Grandad rolling his eyes: Is this about Blackpool again? I wasn’t drunk. Everyone likes to rest their eyes when traffic slows down, it’s normal!

Foolishly we agreed to go, on the promise of separate accommodation, and for an absolute maximum of 3 days.  I mean, a quiet family holiday, how bad could it be?!

Hints of changes to the original itinerary soon started to creep in…

Grandad: I’m thinking of inviting a few work pals. ...And Sue, Jim? Maybe Dave? ...And remember my neighbours from down the road - I want to say... Ken and Barb?

The thing is, whilst Grandad enjoys the fantasy of spending quality time with his family, what he really wants to do is party with his friends, and because in his mind he is compromising in the first place by spending time with his family, he should really be allowed to party with his friends.

Anyway, long story short we end up on the North East coast, also known as the coldest seaside resort in the British Isles – it makes Scotland look like Barbados. 

Grandad in the rain covered in snow “It’s really quite bracing once you’re used to it!”

There we were shivering on our “close family quality-time” holiday with Grandad.  Just us, and 20 to 30 of Grandad’s closest friends and acquaintances, plus a couple of people whose names he thought “might be Ken and Barb”.

You’re right, this doesn’t explain the “Drunken Pirates” bit.  Ok, so Grandad had mentioned that we should bring pirate outfits for you kids and ourselves for a “special birthday outing”.  Your Dad joked that he hoped it wouldn’t involve a boat as we were all recovering from ear and balance problems and you as small children couldn’t swim yet.

Mum rolling eyes: Don’t be ridiculous it won’t involve a boat. Pfft, a boat?!

Of course it DID involve a boat.  Grandad had hired a “Pirate Galleon” to take us around the bay – he thought he’d hired it exclusively, but he hadn’t, so our close family unit, and entourage of 30 by now VERY drunken 50-70 year-old pirates, were accompanied by 20 or so very sober non-pirates.

The other passengers seemed less than impressed to be on board a sea vessel with so many inebriated pirates, especially as Grandad held up the boat’s departure for ten minutes to wait for the slower drunker pirates.  We tried to pretend we weren’t with them but obviously that was made all the more difficult by our matching pirate outfits…

Naturally, being small children, you and your cousin bloody LOVED being on the boat.  Your Dad, and I, and Auntie Kate, were less keen…

Boat, three kids, each of us holding onto a kid for dear life. Me sobbing “Oh God! We’re all going to die!”

Amazingly, we all made it back in one piece and unfortunately no drunken pirates were harmed so they continued to party noisily into the night whilst we kissed the ground and thanked God for our separate accommodation.

Luckily the next day Grandad organised some “real quality family time” crab-fishing off the pier, just us, and him, and 20 or so very hungover pirates, trying miserably to attach dead fish-heads to hooks.  Which obviously is also TOTALLY NORMAL. 

I am fairly certain we WILL be “busy” on his 80th.

Difficult People

Difficult people, can’t live with them, can’t live with them.  Certainly nobody wants to work with them, or enjoys dealing with them as customers, but often we can’t avoid them.

Everyone experiences difficult people in various areas of their life, but usually there is one particularly difficult person that causes a very regular and specific pain; it’s usually a relative, often a parent…

The only people I know of that don’t have a single difficult person who they regularly moan about in their life, are in fact a difficult person themselves.   

Sassy woman says“Difficult? I tell it like it is, no sugar-coating. I say it to your FACE! ...Hey, where did everyone go?!!”

Personally, I have read and listened to a great deal of advice on how to deal with difficult people BUT I have never effectively learnt HOW to deal with difficult people  …and I think I may have finally figured out why.

Like the reasonable man described in law, and the standard patient described in medical journals, the difficult person does not exist. 

Frankenstein has a staff member held in the air above his head, she says “He looks pretty real to me!!!” Colleague legging it “Yeah, and really quite angry...”

Unfortunately, whilst the difficult person does not exist, difficult situations, and people who are difficult to interact with, very definitely do.  

This is not just semantics – I am trying to explain that the reason it is hard to learn how to deal with “difficult people” is that they are not a single cohesive group; they are all difficult in their own unique and special way.  Yippee!

There are people who seem to only want to use you for their own ends:

Woman in coat, with two screaming kids says “We WERE having coffee, but I have to cancel so now you’re free to babysit my kids right?” Second woman looks shocked and almost drops coffees.

There are people who mean well but are unreliable:

Dad in car, me, as a child with a hockey stick frozen at the side of the road covered in snow – Dad : “3pm?! I thought we said 5.30?”

Then there are people who are suffering from their own problems so severely that they can’t play nicely with others:

Woman at desk “An emergency you say? Sure I’ll help, what is it?” Woman opposite screeches: “I haven’t got time to TELL you what it is!”

With such a wide variety of people who are difficult to deal with on offer, and so many different ways to experience them, to learn how to deal with every single one of them simply isn’t possible.

By all means read advice on how to deal with difficult or “toxic” people; take whatever tips you can, where ever the hell you can get them.  I know I do.  Experience can help, as can removing yourself from the situation.

Woman reaching for coat “AN emergency you say? What a coincidence, I have to leave now, bye!” Other woman looks disgruntled.

Once you accept that it is impossible to deal with every single kind of difficult person you can get on with the business of coping with them when you do come across them, without berating yourself afterwards for not having handled them better.

Also please remember most people, difficult or not, mean well.  Often their difficultness is caused by their own internal struggles, and whilst it feels personal it probably isn’t meant to hurt you.  At the same time please remember that if they did intend to hurt you, pretending that it hasn’t hurt you can really spoil their fun.

Television Lies To You

I grew up watching 1980s television and film and I definitely remember that if you were any ordinary person with a dream, a good heart and a funky, sarcastic attitude it was a shoe-in that everything worked out for you; money, romance, career, the lot.

The Goonies Poster recreation with Mum, Dad, Thing1 and Thing 2 hanging from a stalactite over pirate ship full of treasure below.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy with the romance, that went as planned (unless we count that first guy before your Dad – which we definitely don’t BTW) but the career and the copious amounts of money have definitely been more elusive.

I feel like the opportunities I expected to encounter, simply never showed up. 

Army Recruitment Office – “No A-Team? How then am I supposed to get framed for a crime I didn’t commit to promptly escape to live as a soldier of fortune?!” Army recruitment sergeant looks unimpressed

I mean, it seems unfathomable, but to this day I have never once, NOT ONCE, EVER, been presented with 30 million dollars to spend over thirty days in order to inherit 300 million dollars.  I know, right?! 

I have also never been called to a lawyer’s office to be challenged to spend a night in a haunted mansion in order to inherit it – and growing up this one had always seemed the most CERTAIN of all.  It happened to someone on Scooby-Doo every other week.

Worse, I have found not one single piece of pirate gold.  ANYWHERE.  And believe you me, I’ve looked.

Woman and Man Metal-detectoring in a pond – Woman: “Another coke-can. Is that a jelly-fish?” Man staring at condom on end of metal detector “Nope...”

I feel that maybe, just maybe, television has LIED to me, and that all the scenarios I have so carefully prepared myself for in life are actually just fantasies of some kind.

I’m not saying I’ve learnt nothing useful from TV – I can swing myself in and out of an open Dodge Charger window instead of using the door …well, I could, …until my late twenties.  I am great at recognising when a plan comes together, and I am SPOT ON at pitying fools.  I am a bit lacking in direction though, if I’m honest.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is this, following a question you asked me last night, I thought it important to point out that television, film, and indeed gaming, are not accurate depictions of where your life is headed.

Little boy asks “Soooo, hypothetically, where could I acquire a diamond pickaxe or a Pokemon ball?” Mum shrugs and says “Erm...”

It’s wonderful to lose yourself in action and adventure for an hour or two.  Real life can be a little boring in comparison, but it is more realistic to think that your life may turn out more similar to the adults you’re around now, than to say, Pokemon Trainers or Steve from Minecraft.

I could be wrong, certainly the possibility of a brave new world – where you need to spend all your time gathering food and weapons and building shelters – is ever more in the mix, but I think it’s safe to assume that Pokemon Trainer is off the table.

…unless of course the Matrix we all inhabit gets upgraded to include a Kawaii texture-pack?