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image of a beach in jamaicaWe’ve been to many islands in the Caribbean,  we even got married in St. Lucia, but none of them held more of a surprise than Jamaica.

Extracted from A Pat on his Back Tom Kane © 2014

Are You Holidaying Mad?

For once the sun was out. It was cool but sunny and we were out shopping at our local Tesco supermarket. As we left the store, trundling our trolley along the bumpy, ill fitted, tiles in the shopping Mall next to Tesco, we stopped at the local charity shop and Chrissy went in to find a book. I waited patiently outside, as most well trained married men do. Then I got bored and instinct took over. A wandered idly toward the travel agent’s window and perused the offers in the window. Suddenly, it caught my eye, an offer so absurdly cheap that I was almost squirming with delight. Two weeks in Jamaica, all inclusive, for less than fifteen hundred pounds for the two of us.

Chrissy was not pleased when I pointed it out to her. She had a handful of second hand books and simply wanted to get home. I reluctantly shelved the idea, my married man training kicking in, and we sidled off to the car park.

When we got home I made a coffee and Chrissy wandered off upstairs. I poured the coffee and grabbed a handful of biscuits and went upstairs. And what did I find? Chrissy, on her computer, on the internet, looking at the very same travel agent we had been standing outside of not ten minutes earlier.

“Was it Jamaica?”

She asked that question so sweetly. However, you don’t get to go from bachelor all your life to married man for four years and not feel the slightest pang of madness and outrage every now and then.

“You just told me off for looking at that,” I muttered, putting her coffee down.

“Hmm.”

“Why?”

“Why what?”

“Why are you looking at that holiday?”

“What holiday?”

That was it. No point going on. My idea had been hijacked and she was now in control of our destiny.

“It’s even cheaper if you buy online. Two hundred pounds cheaper,” she murmured.

 

Jamaica

As the Airbus wheeled round on its final approach to Jamaica, I was feeling a little dazed and experiencing a small burst of déjà vu.

Chrissy was sat next to me with a happy smile on her face. I was smiling, or was it grimacing, at the thought that what we were doing was total madness. One minute we’re looking at selling our house and moving to Cyprus, then we’re on holiday in St. Lucia and now we’re on holiday again, in Jamaica. I felt we we’re experiencing a degree of escapism threading through our lives, maybe because of the financial crisis. Who knows, madness or no, we immediately took to Jamaica. The people were warm and friendly, the hotel was perfect. The Hotel owners had built a lagoon out from a rocky headland and had created several man-made beaches around the lagoon, each divided by a thin wooden wall with small holes in.

It was our second week and we were sunning ourselves on the beach when a portly gentleman appeared in my left periphery vision. He had walked past the partitioning wall down to the waters edge. I looked left and uttered a small expletive.

“What did you say?” Chrissy asked, turning the page of her latest chick lit book.

“I said, shit.”

“Why?”

“Because there’s a man standing over there, striking a very inappropriate pose.”

“Why do you say that,” she said without looking.

“Because he’s stark bollock naked.”

Chrissy turned to look, and the book and her eyes never wavered. “Well, he’s not got a lot to offer.”

I turned to Chrissy. “Meaning?”

She patted my hand, “Meaning he’s no competition, darling.” She smiled sweetly and carried on with her book.

I took another quick peek and smiled inwardly. “Too right,” I muttered. I put this spectacle to one side as an aberration, a holidaymaker who hadn’t read the hotel’s dress-code and went back to my own book

A little later I decided I needed a dip in the small lagoon and wandered in, head down as usual, looking for any interesting stones, shells or wildlife. It wasn’t deep, I could see my feet through the clear, warm water. As the water lapped around my thighs I turned, looked up and suddenly realised where I was looking. The naked man was gone but there was a woman on a sun-bed, on her back cross legged, reading her book. What happened next will remain with me for the rest of my life and not in a good way. She uncrossed her legs and I went red. I put my head down and stumbled my way back up to where Chrissy was. I sat on my sun lounger, muttering to myself.

“Now, what’s up?”

I looked at Chrissy and went red again, explaining what I had seen. I’m not a prude, but Chrissy thinks I’m naive. I put it this way, I know where I like to look and where I don’t like looking and I had inadvertently been looking where I shouldn’t be looking.

We found out later that the one thing that wasn’t mentioned in the advertising was that the far-left beach was in fact a nudist beach. This was partitioned from the beach we used on a daily basis. I hadn’t noticed, even though I had spent quite a lot of the holiday peering through the small holes in the wooden partition between these beaches, wondering why there was a partition and what the people on the other side were doing. Now I knew I really didn’t want to know, but you can’t unknow things, can you? What did strike me weeks later was that anyone looking at me during the first week of our holiday would probably have thought I was some sort of Peeping-Tom, or worse still a voyeur! Even now I sometimes wake up in the early hours with that thought on my mind.

Extracted for A Pat on his Back by Tom Kane

Tom Kane © 2018

As a English expat author living in Cyprus, you may think my life revolves around cocktails by the pool. You would be wrong. In ten years on the island I’ve had my fair share of adventures and interesting experiences.

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