Cream Teas, Traffic Jams and Sunburn takes a look at the British on holiday. It’s packed with funny anecdotes (forgetting passports, bizarre flight transfers and odd beach habits).
This broad topic could easily descend into a rant or an opportunity to dust off old cliches about Germans and their beach towels and French driving.
But Brian Viner is a better writer than that and dips into anecdotes from friends and family and his years of taking holidays as a journalist. He tackles the morals of writing about a free, or at any rate, subsidised trip and although the cover implies very British holidays – an ice cream cornet and a sandcastle – does not restrict his adventures to this side of the Channel.
Perhaps it’s his experience as a columnist but this kind of writing can easily become flabby – it doesn’t. He keeps to the point despite some wild chapter headings…
- Butlins, Bognor and Boney M
- Scrambled eggs, scones and Schleswig-Holstein
- Barbecues, Bergasol and bikini lines
A great holiday read, Cream Teas is funny and well-informed, but critical where it needs to be. Having grown up in Southport Viner is not amused at Paul Theroux’s description of the Lancastrian seaside resort…. ‘the American travel writer Paul Theroux described Southport as condescendingly as only a man from Massachusetts in round tortoiseshell glasses can…’
I have enjoyed reading Theroux, but shared Viner’s irritation when reading the American writer’s description of Anglesey.
Perhaps the recession has led to the rise in British travel books. Here, Viner is really examining the British.
In this wet and unpredictable summer why not enjoy the windbreaks, end-of-pier and rock shaped like a fried breakfast from the comfort of your armchair?