A glass of rose? A little nibble of bread? Dipped in aioli? An olive? A bit more bread? More aioli? More rose? Why the hell not? I’m on my holidays! Do they really deep-fry the squid here? How marvellous! Dipped in more aioli? And chips? With a little drizzle of mayo over the top? Is that the House Special? How charming! More rose? More bread? Oh! Wow the chips? Dipped in the aioli? Oh, I really shouldn’t. Well… just one.
Welcome to summer in Ibiza. Or indeed welcome to any summer anywhere across Europe. Where all those good lemon-sucking intentions hewn over the past 11 months, fall by the wayside. After 50 weeks of nothing but limp, flaccid salad and tap water for lunch, it becomes perfectly normal to drink your bodyweight in pink wine or 'lady petrol', as a charming friend of mine calls it, and trough down a triple carb lunch, swiftly followed by a snooze on a lounger, mouth open catching flies, only to wake up, yawn, fart, throw yourself into the Med and move onto a gentle cocktail to help the sun go down.
“Watch out for the summer stone,” warned the fragrant nutritional therapist, Amelia Freer last time I saw her, when I boastfully hinted I might pack a bikini for my holiday in Ibiza (fortunately for those still capable of vision on Salinas beach at 2.30pm, I haven’t. There is only so much 40 something flesh you can display in broad daylight without having to hand out free anti-emetics). “You’d be amazed how many of my clients tumble off the wagon as soon as they see the sun. The summer is in fact a much more dangerous time than Christmas. I can’t tell you how many of my clients come back from a fortnight in Italy and suddenly find they can’t fit into their jeans.”
I suppose it must be an age thing. Once you hit 30/35, or possibly 40? Your idea of fun radically alters. When I was in my 20s I wanted to travel as far and wide and see as much as humanly possible, on as little money as humanly possible. Lunch, quite frankly, didn’t come into it. An apple, a biscuit and a bottle water with my feet floating in the shallows of the Trevi fountain was my idea of luxury. I remember sleeping rough on the beaches of Dahab, Sinai (not something I would recommend to anyone these days) and saving my coins up to share a banana pancake a day with my girlfriend in the oddly named Fighting Kangaroo beach bar, just so that we could stay and dive a little longer.
On holidays we lost weight, on holidays we starved ourselves till our hip bones poked out over the top of our bikini bottoms; on holidays you prided yourself on spending less than £2.50 on all your food for the entire day, just so you could spend a little longer seeing something or doing something else.
Now of course it is all about food. And the drink. And the food and the drink. Oh and the chat. Now I choose a beach, not because of the waves and the sand, but for the wine and the grilled fish and the view of the beach from the restaurant so that I can see my children in the surf while still holding my glass of something chilled.
And this sort of relaxation does nothing for your waistline. You kid yourself that you’re swimming every day, but a five minute float barely cracks the back of the bowl of chips at lunchtime and when you consider that a glass of wine is supposedly the calorific equivalent of a piece of bread, it is quite easy to get through a couple of loaves a night.
But then again, life really is too short to say no to the deep fried calamari rings and to deny yourself the warm fresh bread dipped in thick pungent garlic mayo. So I think for the next few weeks we should all kick back and relax, have a slurp of wine and have a nice lie down – at least we’ll look thinner that way.