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This is a question Family Holidays

Back in the 80s when my Dad got made redundant (hello Dad!), he spent all the redundancy money on one of those big motor caravans.

Us kids loved it, apart from when my sister threw up on my sleeping bag, but looking back I'm not so sure my mum did. There was a certain tension every time the big van was even mentioned, let alone driven around France for weeks on end with her still having to cook and do all the washing.

What went wrong, what went right, and how did you survive the shame of having your family with you as a teenager?

(, Thu 2 Aug 2007, 14:33)
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Butlins brainscar
When I turned four my parents decided it was time for our first proper family holiday. My younger brother was barely 18 months old, so a trip abroad would have been hell. Plus we couldn't afford it, so Butlins holiday camp* was the natural second choice.

Near the end of an exhausting week (for my parents), all the kids in the camp were rounded up to be treated to a final magic show with a fabulous prize…. a HUGE bucket full of lollipops. Believe me when I say I wanted those lollies more than anything before or since. My dad was looking after my sleeping brother at the back of the room while my mum also took the opportunity for some shut-eye, so I pressed forwards into the pre-school mosh pit at the front, hoping it might increase my chances of winning this magical tub of sugarjoy.

Tension built as the magician rummaged around in a top hat full of names... Finally, to a chorus of rapturous squeaks he produced a crumpled scrap of paper and announced... somebody else’s name. I was gutted and began sulking immediately. In the background I could hear my dad shouting something about putting my hand up but I was too consumed with grief to care. In any case, my attention was focused on the stage, as the magician was still waiting for someone to come forwards. He kept repeating the winner's name, and each time he did it, my dad's shouts drifted pointlessly over the sea of kiddynoise, into one ear, and straight out the other.

The magician grew impatient and asked his pint-sized audience if he should draw another name, to which the reply was a resounding, fever-pitch “YAY!” from each of the mewling brats below. I shouted louder than anyone, struggling to believe that I’d been granted a second chance. My dad was now wading through the maelstrom of youth towards the front of the stage, but I was determined to win that bucket of lollies before he made it.

Just before he reached me, the magician announced a second name… and the winner (a girl just to my left) bounced three feet onto the stage to claim the prize. I felt my eyes begin to well up with tears, but these were soon cleared as I received a hefty clip round the ear.

Apparently, the first name the magician had announced was my brother’s. My lolly-induced tunnel vision and selective hearing, combined with exceptional naivety meant I’d ignored my brother’s name completely. When I realised the magnitude of my error, I cried for about a week and had recurring nightmares about it for years afterwards. My dad still reminds me of this story every single time he sees anything lollipop-related. I’m now 27 years old.

I don’t know how long it was, but that bucket really did look _enormous_ to a four year old.

* For those who haven't experienced Butlins, it's similar to Auschwitz but with more clowns.
(, Thu 2 Aug 2007, 18:36, Reply)

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