Hi-de-hi

“Are we there yet?”

In my role as an entertainments manager (one role of many), I find the burdens of success or failure, hard to cope with.

For the mere mortal, travel to a destination involves getting there and getting back home, which equals success.
For the “red coat” of a family, this same trip involves a very different criteria.
A criteria that is considerably more complex, with each aspect of said criteria, determining whether the trip has been a success or not. Should just one aspect fail to meet the standards expected, then the trip is deemed to be a failure, forever stored in the memory banks, ready to be used in comparison with, anything that remotely similar occurs again, in any future trip.

Allow me to elaborate.

We are off to [insert town/city/place of choice here] let’s go!
You drive there, you do stuff, you return home. Job done. Memories made.

As a family “red coat”.
We are off to [insert town/city/place of choice here] let’s go!
“Do we have to?”
“Can we not go to … instead?”
“I don’t want to go!”
“I was planning on doing….” – queue the “I told you…” conversation, that always ends with, “You’re wrong!”
Undeterred, objections overcome (after wasting an hour) we step it up a gear.

Getting ready, always takes 30 minutes to an hour longer than anticipated, with assorted moaning thrown in, culminating in “the last minute row,” which basically involves shouting and forgetting one or two things that are essential to the trip, such as a coat/jacket, a lighter, a battery power block that would have enabled a 5% battery left on a mobile phone, to continue to be used. These failings will be solely down to the organising person, ie. Me.

Finally in the car and on the way.
Any traffic jams on the way, or realising that it’s a bank holiday weekend when you hit more traffic than anticipated, is of course, the fault of the trip marshall, ie. Me.
Should drinks or eats be required mid trip, that were not either prepared in advance in the home, or involve the cost of a hotel room for the night and an extra hour added on to the journey from a stop-off, then of course, the fire is directed at the leader of the group, ie. Me.

At the destination.
The “Coach trip” leader is expected to miraculously turn into a national tourism guide for the area, the moment the parking ticket lands on the dashboard.
Shouts of, “Where now?” are uttered by the sceptical public whom you’ve just spent 3 hours driving and finding a parking space in a place you’ve never set foot in before.
After twenty minutes of mumbling, the gaggle of tourists and their leader, stumble off in a random direction, usually towards where the largest group of people are and undoubtedly leaving behind in the car, something of importance which will be required when you are approximately one hour walking distance away.

Factors guaranteed to occur during the day.
* Toileting will be required, of which there will be none for miles around.
* You will, no question, have to be able to recommend a five star food outlet, that serves it’s wares at the price of a stamp, in comparison to eateries back home!
If the food ordered is dross, as is often the case as genuine quality places are rarer than hen’s teeth, it is your responsibility to not only complain, but obtain a partial or full refund and strike down the owners of the establishment in some way, with such venom that their parents feel it!
* Find entertainment for them all, that involves you having little interest in, yet costs you the price of a vet’s bill for as little time / amusement as possible.

There’s the obligatory verbal backhander that comes your way when they all finally start to have some fun, but you realise that your parking permit is about to run out in 20 minutes, so the fun is cut short and it’s all your fault.

Back in the car, homeward bound.
Those in the back will constantly bemoan the fact that you caused them to forget the power block so they could play on their phone instead of looking out of the window and seeing the area they are in.
Your co-pilot will suddenly go silent, for an hour or so. Then you’ll utter those immortal words, “What’s wrong?” – then you’ll wish you hadn’t.
All the ills from the day will come out, all your faults and failings will be paraded, at volumes that are totally unnecessary for such an enclosed space, only stopping to let the rear passengers chip in with failure reminders that your co-pilot, in their fit of rage, had forgotten. This elongates the verbal attack, that you could do without, as Sid behind, in his flash motor, has fog lights and full beams on, which are blinding you with ever bump in the road, via your mirrors.

Home at last, it’s time to relax.
Despite the wonderful outing and all your failings being aimed at your head, a family or friend will contact your co-pilot (already in their “comfy clothing” – changed while you unpacked the car and struggled back in with) and they will be giving them the rundown of how the day went, which will vary on the family / friend being told.
It will either be in minute details, or have more sheen on it than Mr Sheen’s right hand.

Your group will then yawn and swan off up the wooden hills, leaving you to sigh and wonder why the hell you ever thought to go on the trip in the first place.

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