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An Englishwoman Under the Weather
by Charlie Britten

Debbie shivered. She hadn't expected to be cold in Tenerife in the middle of August.

Going up Mount Teide was Sam’s idea. All week, they’d been looking at it from their window in sun-drenched Playa de Las Americas, but the fact that the lopsided peak, rising above the towering hotel blocks, glowed white, indicating... er... snow, had not influenced Debbie’s choice of clothing that day. Wearing warm Berghaus jackets, the Germans ambled over to the wall to admire the view through expensive binoculars. The Spanish girls, taking photographs with their phones – of themselves, not of the dramatic scenery - cosseted themselves in crocheted shawls and scarves. Buttoning her thin cardigan, English Debbie hugged her chest. 

Below her crumpled shorts, her - hitherto white – thighs glowed pink and her neck and shoulders glowed dark pink... red. She had used sun cream. Honest. Even though Sam, who said he wasn't going to use any, balked at the price of the bottle of Factor 15 in her Boots basket and made her put it back. Factor 8 would be all right, he said.  Her shoulders were all right eventually, three weeks after they returned home.


Their next holiday was in Florida. They went a bit later that year. Funny it was so much cheaper in September, because it was still quite warm, just a bit breezy. One night, they watched the trees bending over almost double. Sam said that those palms were thin and flimsy things, not like the oaks and... well, other trees... you got at home. A loudspeaker van drove up and down the road, but you couldn't hear what was being said above the clattering of their neighbours either side fastening shutters. Debbie thought she caught something about keeping tuned into the TV, but Sam told her she was stupid and they wouldn't have said that, would they? Anyway, Debbie didn't like American television.

The following morning, after a good night’s sleep, Debbie popped out to buy some milk. The wind had dropped but nobody seemed to be about and litter was everywhere, branches and leaves, empty McDonald’s cartons and pizza boxes squashed at the corners, and she had to step over at the fallen tree blocking the end of their road. “Are you OK?” asked the woman at the supermarket, in a very concerned voice, but Americans were always saying things like that. Debbie wasn't OK at all, because, as there was no milk on the shelves, she wouldn't be able to make tea.
It was raining cats and dogs when Debbie and Sam landed at Gatwick at the end of their holiday. You could hear it lashing against the side of the plane. Taking their hand-baggage down from the overhead lockers, Debbie retrieved her cagoule, and Sam’s, both snuggly packed in their little nylon bags. She put on hers, drawing up the zip and pulling the hood over her head.  Sam did the same. A few minutes later they walked off the plane, down the steps and on to the tarmac, arriving into the terminal as dry as proverbial bones.