Tarquin and Tracey



“Majorca,” said Tracey. “That’s where I want to go this year.”

Tarquin did his best goldfish impression. The one where he opens his mouth and then closes it again without making a sound. “Majorca? Isn’t that rather …?”

“I’ve had some lovely holidays in places ending in ‘a’,” said Tracey. “Majorca. Minorca. Ibiza. Costa Blanca.”

“I’m sure they’re perfectly delightful. I was thinking somewhere a little more …”

“Don’t say it,” she gave him a friendly elbow in the ribs.

He produced a holiday brochure. “Why don’t we go to St. Moritz? My family go there at least once a year.”

She sniffed. “Your family would.”

“We said we wouldn’t talk about that. It always ends in a fearful fight.”

Tracey picked up the brochure. “This looks rubbish. There’s no beach. Everyone’s wearing coats. Couldn’t they have taken photos in the summer?”

He guided her hand to turn to a page of someone skiing. “It’s meant to be cold. We go there for the pistes.”

“That sounds more like it,” said Tracey.

“No, you silly thing, the skiing. One goes to St. Moritz to enjoy the slopes. And the après ski, of course. That will remind you of Ibiza. Lots and lots of drinkies.”

“Hmm. Maybe. So what’s the food like?”

“I think there’s a picture at the back of the brochure,” he said, turning the pages. “Here you go. The local delicacy is fondue.”

“Fondle who?”

“It’s a hot cheese soup. They bring it to your table in a big cooking pot. Then you take a piece of bread on the end of a fork and dip it in.”

Tracey raised an eyebrow. “What, in the cheese soup?”

“Exactly. And if one drops one’s bread in the cheese one has to pay a forfeit. You have to kiss someone. That’s the best part.”

“So, it’s like cheese on toast, but with extra snogging? That sounds weird.”

Tarquin smudged her little button nose. “Then there’s the skiing. You take a ski lift to the top of the mountain. Strap on your skis and whoosh down the slopes. The air is as clean as a vicar’s conscience. The snow is like powder. And the Swiss have the best accident and emergency departments in the world.”

“And what do you do when you get to the bottom of the mountain?” asked Tracey.

“Well, ah, one gets back in the ski lift and goes to the top again. Then the après ski to drink lots of German white wine.”

“Is German white wine any good?”

Tarquin ummed. “Not really. But when you’ve been skiing all day you don’t seem to mind.”

“Let me see if I’ve got this straight,” said Tracey. “You go up a mountain just so you can come back down it. You eat inside-out cheese on toast and not very nice wine. It’s freezing cold. And there’s a better than evens chance that you will spend part of the holiday in A&E.”

“You could make similar accusations about Majorca.”

Tracey did not say anything. She reached under the bed and brought out a bikini which seemed to be made entirely out of three very small handkerchiefs and a lot of string.

“Well, when you put it like that …” said Tarquin.


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