Saturday, 14 July 2012
“We’ll blink, and they’ll be holidaying together in Ibiza” I said.
It was spring 1996. Mrs Jones and I had arrived at the crèche at the end of a working day to pick up Becca, our 2-year-old daughter. Engrossed in play with her best friend Millie, our daughter had yet to notice our presence. We quietly observed as the two toddlers walked away from us, hand-in-hand, their nappy-clad arses swinging in synchrony as they made their way towards the bouncy-castle. At this time, the prospect of my sweet daughter night-clubbing in the party capital of Europe 1,000 miles away from the safety of dad’s protective gaze was both implausible and disturbing in equal measure. Little did I know that my casual comment of 16-years ago could legitimately see me crowned as a modern-day Nostradamus.
At 2.00 am yesterday morning Becca, now 18 years old, set off for Manchester Airport at the start of her first independent holiday. Together with Millie (they had lost touch with each other for a while but re-established their friendship a couple of years ago) and two other close friends, their destination was not Ibiza but the neighbouring Spanish island of Majorca. A popular attraction for young Brits, their pre-booked accommodation was at the Mallorca Rocks hotel in the resort of Magaluf (or “Shagaluf” as it is colloquially referred to by our local youths). The knowledge that my sweet baby girl was en-route to a non-stop, 11-day party marathon was difficult for my brain to digest, resulting in only fleeting sleep on the night of her departure.
The following day was uneventful. I was aware that her plane would have landed in Majorca around 10.00 am local time. No news was good news – it is striking how a previously carefree man can become neurotic, with catastrophic imaginings of carnage, when his baby girl is 30,000 feet high careering at over 600 miles per hour in a steel container. At the end of her first full day on holiday, I retired to bed early, and slept soundly. That was until 3.30 am (4.30 am Spanish time) when the intrusive screech of my mobile phone rudely ended my slumber. Only partially conscious, I groped for the handset at the side of my bed and put it to my ear. At first, all I could hear was whimpering, and the sound of someone struggling to breathe. Then my daughter’s pained voice.
“Dad, we’ve been robbed!”
“What’s happened sweetie?” I asked, trying to sound calmer than I felt.
“We’ve just got back to the hotel - (breathless, whimper, breathless) - and we found our door open - (whimper, breathless, whimper) - all our belongings strewn over the floor - (breathless, breathless) - and they’ve taken all our money - (starting to weep) - I want to come home dad.”
A huge wave of sadness hit me. My sweet, petite princess, on her first independent holiday, had been traumatised and had all her hard-earned cash stolen on the first day of what should have been one of the happiest times in her life. I switched into consoling dad mode, while thinking how I would like to rip the heads of the thieving bastards who had inflicted such despair on my little girl.
“It will be ok darling. No one has died or been injured. Report the theft to the hotel and, tomorrow, to the police. We’ll put some money in your account. Things always seem worse in the early hours of the morning; it will feel different tomorrow.”
After a few minutes, Becca calmed and regained her composure. She reassured me she’d be ok, was going to bed (this time with the door locked) and that she would contact me again once she’d slept.
Several hours later she rang and sounded much calmer, albeit a little awkward. They hadn’t been robbed after all! The true sequence of events was broadly as follows. Four excitable young women fly to Majorca overnight and land, sleep-deprived, at their Spanish resort around midday local time. Eager to pose by the pool, they partially unpack and spend the afternoon languishing on their sun-loungers guzzling Sangria. Returning to their rooms they shower and begin the prolonged ritual of getting themselves ready to party, trying on and deciding against several outfits, while consuming more of the local wine. Having decided not to purchase a safety-deposit box, each of the four young ladies hides her money and other valuables in random places within their room and leaves without locking the door, intent on enjoying Majorca’s famed nightlife. Six hours later, 4.30 am, they return, intoxicated, to discover their door unlocked and clothes and belongings strewn randomly across the floor. As each girl’s initial search for her money and valuables is unsuccessful (hiding places long forgotten) they instantly conclude that their room has been robbed and ransacked. Drama, of soap-opera proportions, ensues as most of the hotel occupants are made aware of their perceived misfortune.
Oh, to be young again!