Date: 12 June.
Location: driving home from Wet ‘n’ Wild Palm Springs in the desert’s warm dark, blasting uncool music at uncool volumes (to wit, Jason DeRulo; loud) as we head down Highway 111.
Notable sightings: Palm Springs’s Thursday night Villagefest; an oasis of water slides and wave pools; blue skies.
“But it’s different for mother. She – she lives in the past a lot.”
“Some people do,” said Poirot. His visual memory conjured up the room he had been in a short time before. There had been a bureau drawer half pulled out. A drawer full of odds and ends – silk pin-cushion, a broken fan, a silver coffee pot – some old magazines. The drawer had been too full to shut. He said softly: “And they keep things – memories of old days – the dance programme, the fan, the photographs of bygone friends, even the menu cards and the theatre programmes because, looking at these things, old memories revive.”
“I suppose that’s it,” said Deirdre. “I can’t understand it myself. I never keep anything.”
“You look forwards, not back?”
Deirdre said slowly: “I don’t know that I look anywhere… I mean, today’s usually enough, isn’t it?”
— Mrs McGinty’s Dead, Agatha Christie.
I’m an Agatha Christie tragic. Reading her economical descriptions of brutal murders, the whip-quick dialogue of her quirky sleuths and the unselfconscious thirties snobbery that laces her prose is imperative to any good holiday of mine. I also love to holiday-read the icy cold horror of Norweigen Jo Nesbø novels — and who doesn’t love a feel good romp through a Marion Keys? — but no holiday hand luggage is complete without a thin paperback Christie.
The Dame wrote 80 novels and short story collections so, by my calculations, if I read two to three each holiday, assuming one point five holidays a year, then that gives me 21 years to cycle through all of them and, allowing for memory loss brought on both by ageing and too many nights hand in hand with a long gin and tonic, I will never run out of ‘new’ Christies to read.
I came across the except above yesterday, stopped and re-read it because I liked it so. Deirdre isn’t the most likeable character in the novel and I think Christie intends to deride her and her simplistic ‘today is usually enough, isn’t it?’ approach. But we live in very different times; anyone who has lived through two world wars is rightly jaded. I prefer Deidre’s approach. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that, if today isn’t enough — and nor was yesterday, tomorrow isn’t exciting and next week isn’t looking good either — then there’s something wrong. But, ergh, what sort of name is ‘Deirdre’?
Now, from English essay to school holidays.
Yesterday Bunky, Tassels and I carefully considered our options for a day in Palm Springs. By this, I mean I wrote a list: canyon hike, golf, Joshua Tree, aerial tramway, art gallery and lunch, waterpark. And then we threw it out because, duh, waterpark every time.
Typical American price-gouging techniques aside — want to park in the Wet ‘N’ Wild car park? That will be $14 please and thank you. Want ‘priority parking’ (because you’re too lazy to walk more than 15m)? That’ll be $6 more. Want a floaty donut? $6 please. And you don’t want to know how much a coca cola will set you back — it was awesome. You know it’s a cool day when your best friend turns to you and remarks, “Huh, now I know what it’s like to have a wedgie in the front and the back at the same time” (courtesy of the 7-storey high free fall Tidal Wave slide). We lounged, we slid, we hauled giant inflatable rafts up steps that made the Bump ‘n’ Grind hike look like a ladies’ promenade, we screamed, we raced, we splashed and flowride-d.
Once, when I’d been the last of us three to go down a particularly vertigo-inducing waterslide (the wedgie slide), a kid of about ten or eleven tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I was afraid. I’d shrugged it off, but obviously not convincingly because he gave me a vaguely patronising lazy grin and reassuring told me that it wasn’t that bad, that it was perfectly safe and that it was best if I just didn’t look down. Later, when he winked at all three of us from the kids waterpark, it emerged that this kid had also chatted to Bunky, asking her about water parks in Australia and remarking that he planned to travel there, and that he’d given Tassels tips on the best rides and offered to show her around. He also carried our giant inflatable raft for us at one point. The soft young hearts of the girls at Palm Springs Elementary need to guard themselves, forget Justin Beiber and get fresh diaries because this little kid is smooth.
A bit bruised, battered and burned, we stopped by Palm Springs proper to watch game 4 of the NBA finals (a walloping of Miami by the altogether classier San Antonio if you’re curious and don’t have Google) and browse the Thursday night markets. I saw a man feed his diamanté-studded-collar-wearing pitbull a $6 frozen yogurt out of a cone. I think that sums up Palm Springs quite well.
Now, back to obsessively planning each minute of a two day adventure in Disneyland next week. Toon Town and Tortilla Jo’s tequila flight are going to happen. Other suggestions welcome.