Susan Morrison: Summer hols were never like this in my day

Well, I have to be honest, if this is climate change, I'm all for it. This is a summer. I mean, who really needs ice caps?

Friday, 20th July 2018, 7:00 am
The current glorious weather doesn't quite chime with Susan Morrison's memories of childhood holidays in Girvan. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
The current glorious weather doesn't quite chime with Susan Morrison's memories of childhood holidays in Girvan. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Let’s not get started on melting icebergs or, as I like to call them, ship-killing swine. And no, I have never, ever recovered from the sinking of the RMS Titanic. When I have a grudge, I keep a grudge.

Summers aren’t always like this, remember. My memories of grim summers past are captured in family photos of holidays in Girvan and Scarborough.

Look, here’s one of us lined up against sea wall. It’s been taken quickly because dad had a clockwork timer on his camera. He could set it and race round to be in the photo with us, but he needed to move fast. Oh, and also, we had to rush into position because there was a Force 10 storm going on and the sea was regularly breaking over the wall and mum didn’t want to get her hair wet. If you look closely, you can see she’s taken her Rainmate off.

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Shortly after the photo was taken, those raging seas slammed into the prom and carried away an entire stretch of wall. That wall, in fact.

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Susan Morrison: Am I still allowed to be Scottish after this?

Here we all are, five of us this time, since my youngest brother had appeared by then. He’s in a pram big enough to take on an Atlantic crossing.

Me, mum and my other brother are bravely smiling into the camera, all in matching Aran sweaters, thoughtfully knitted by my Auntie Jane. Pre-holiday planning these days means suncream. Those days it was new chunky handknitted jumpers, fit for lookout duty on the North Atlantic convoys.

Speaking of the cruel sea, here’s a photo of our most beloved family car, the Morris Minor, nicknamed the Bomb. We took her on the ferry to Dunoon for the summer on a crossing so epic we had to carefully time driving the car onto the ramp as the boat got kicked all over the shop. CalMac didn’t do health and safety back then. If the ferry was ready to go, the ferry was going.

We stood on deck, because cups were flying all over the downstairs saloon. Young American sailors who served at the base on the Holy Loch were eyeing up the lifeboat davits and reading the instructions. My mother knew I was a good swimmer. She pointed out the lights at Gourock and said if we hit the water, head that way. She tied her scarf with a determined knot under her chin. I’ll look after your brother, she said. What about dad? I said. He can look after the car, she said, grimly eyeing the distance between the two piers.

The Clyde Riviera

Occasionally we did get sunburn. Sometimes, the sun would blaze down on the Clyde. My dad would announce it was just like the Mediterranean, which was interesting, because dad hadn’t seen the Med at that point, and therefore not really in a position to judge, but not knowing stuff never stopped him.

Sunburn was not considered a health hazard then. It was a great excuse for peeling sheets of skin off your arms and your wee brother’s back.

If it stung, there was always Calamine Lotion, always from a glass bottle and always applied with cotton wool.

It dried to a powdery white, which made my brother and I look like something from Lord of the Flies as we ran about the beach in the rain, two hours later.

Where are my servants bearing gin! Children?!

Heavens! This heat or, as our English cousins back in the days of Empire would have said, “this demmed heat”. ’Course it was easier for them. They had pith helmets and a boundless supply of gin and tonic, whisked to them at the ring of a bell by turbaned servants.

I have to walk all the way to Tesco for my tonic and when my glass runs dry I am reduced to shouting at my kids. We once ran out of tonic and had to use the Sodastream concentrate. Now, I love my Sodastream, but I’d steer clear of their own-brand tonic mixer. I mean, obviously I drank it, but it was a valiant struggle.

On the upside, I figure I’m free from malaria for now.

Dear Theresa, I’m ready and willing to serve my country if called upon

I’ve been waiting by the phone for a week now, but Theresa still hasn’t called. At the rate of Cabinet ministers she’s going through, we’re going to have to set up some sort of national rota system. People are resigning now that we never even heard of before. Those guys in Star Trek wearing red jumpers had a longer life expectancy than one of Mrs May’s junior ministers. Do they have whip rounds anymore? It’s probably best just to get everyone to chuck a tenner each into a pint glass and take a wodge out as you go. Works for hen do’s.