Wednesday 17 July 2019

Magaluf versus Milan

The one periodical that slips weekly through our letterbox is The Spectator, and so I was distressed this morning to read that James Delingpole, a personal hero, is allowing his daughter to go to a place known colloquially as "Shagaluf." The expensively-educated girl is 18, and so I am tempted into every parent's very favourite thing: the childless person's opinion of it all.

First, though, I should say that my distress is not untinged by envy because when I was 16 or 17, I very badly wanted to go to Italy to do an intensive course in Italian. My mother said no, and although this may have been partly because there was no money for this (which didn't really occur to me), I know it was because she had antiquated notions of what Italian men were like. 

Having recently read the reminiscences of a British woman her age about travelling to Italy with girls from her school in the 1960, I am more sympathetic now to her fears. Also, one of the first things that happened when I finally travelled alone to Florence at age 28 was that a complete stranger tried to pick me up using quite astonishingly bold lies. Finally, if I had had the gumption necessary for international social survival, I would have defied my mother, made all the arrangements, obtained a cheque book, paid for the term myself from my very hard-won earnings (if I had them), and then presented the permission slip after saying it was all paid for, so she had better sign. 

I did not have that kind of gumption, though. In fact, I may still have been too shy to call strangers on the phone--the reason why I never learned to drive, by the way, and now it is too late.

So now it occurs to me that Delingpole might know his daughter well enough to be certain she will come through a holiday in Shagaluf without harm. Still, I am of the opinion that an 18 year old girl should go nowhere near Majorca, and I am currently looking up excellent post-graduation Gap Year activities for former pupils to do in Rome. If they go, I will coach them very firmly about what to say to men in Italy who approach them with smiles, lies, and unwanted roses.

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