Celebrity postcards: Martin Amis in the Seychelles (As sent to Paul Oswell)
I’m not sad to be leaving today. I’ve got severe resort fatigue, if you really want to know. If you’re going to push me to answer. Tropical ennui. Hotel weariness.
Listen, brother. Lend me an ear, sister. Even the couples are coupling up. There are no single couples left. Bored senseless by being with just each other, they’re all co-dining, and duo-diving and intra-bathing. It’s pretty wearing if you want the truth. For the single amongst us, I mean. The uni-diner. The mono-diver. The solo-bather.
You can see the relief on their faces when they find another couple to tolerate. The men, especially. No more dicking around with having to think about what to say any more. No more dialogue minefields with the trouble and strife. They can just melt into that effortless talk about the football, about what they do for a living, about what cars they’re driving, about how large their rigs are. It’s reassuring. The women are happier too, as they get some actual human attention and conversation that isn’t overtly geared towards getting a handjob later that evening. The women are much happier in general, I have to say. The men are just less sad. In general.
The families, they aren’t mingling so much. They’re happy units. It’s pretty much an even split, from what I can tell by looking around, and that’s more or less all I have time for, so you can trust me. Some of them are happy families, the gleeful nipper factories, the contented species-furtherers. They’re as comfortable with each other here as they are around the breakfast table every morning at home, effortless joking and easy laughter. It’s healthy.
Then there's the other families. They’re not in such good shape, truth be told. They haven’t worked out in a while. It’s the dads. It’s always the dads. They look...how can I say this? Let’s cut the bullroar: bored shitless. In the daytime, spread out by the pool, they can get away with it, lie back on their loungers and pretend they’re on their own. Single life, as such. Because there are some good looking women staying here. Only you’ve got about four seconds to eye them up before you have to be a dad again, attending to some wibbling sprout that’s swallowed the shallow end of the pool or eaten his flip-flop. All those crafty swimsuit leers. I imagine in some cases they’re even eyeing up their own wives (before they catch themselves) in a heat-induced bout of chick amnesia.
But back at dinner, on that small, unforgiving table, there’s not really anywhere to hide, is there? You’ve got to admit it. You’ve got a family.
To be fair, there’s usually only the one kid. They’ve sussed their mistake early on. They’ve clocked their snafu. To be fair. The couple do their best to ignore the blatant error of their continued conjugality, staring over each others shoulders in silence, but soon enough, the kid starts up because he can’t work his pasta, and the mum has to do something, really. To stop the staring. Dad sees his chance and waves over the waiter to order another beer and talk about football and cars and what he does and how large his rig is, but you have to go back to being a family after that.
These couples, they look the part, but the men can’t function because they’ve been stripped of their work and their mates and their telly. They haven’t got much to say to their wives, let alone this three year old stranger with its chicken nugget whining and its ice-cream crying. And this? This is meant to be the quality time – yeah, I’m taking the family away for a couple of weeks – the time to find out about each other, and these guys, they aren’t even there. God knows what they’re like at home, bolstered by their jobs and their mates and their telly. They probably have their parenting duties plugged into their phone calendars, some kind of strict kid agenda. A rigid brat rota. An unyielding kinder-schedule.
Does that sound mean? I’m just calling it how I see it. There are healthy families, too. So that’s reassuring. It’s just this destination sadness. The rain isn’t helping, coming down like it is. The weather’s all wrong these days. The rain is new in town here; rain like this, anyway. And when you’re new in town, the only way to get any respect is to kick the shit out of someone on the first day, so that’s what it's doing. It just blew the telly out and all the lights with a self-satisfied, thundering belch, so there’s not much to do now, really.
I’ve read all the magazines, taken all the photos, lied on all the sand, eaten all the food and had all the handjobs you can productively have in a day. I don’t really know what else I could have done. Now I just want to get on the plane and lie back, in the sock of economy. Or rather, hunch back. Squirm back. And think of England.