A Book of Untruths
A memoir by Miranda Doyle

"Holidays" - an extra lie

"Holidays" is extra content (an additional lie) from A Book of Untruths, by Miranda Doyle.



- An extra lie, not included in A Book of Untruths -

Line drawing of youth hostel cleaning equipment

Holidays are Fun

The holiday that sticks in memory is the one at Boggle Hole.

Youth Hostelling holidays, and there were many, meant miserable hours of hanging out beneath trees in driving rain for the day long exile to lift.  The virtue of making packed lunches, sleeping alongside strangers and cleaning toilets stole any sense of enjoyment at all.

But the day I’m thinking of we are on our way in the car to Whitby or Scarborough and it is teeming with rain.  We have done the chores on a tea stained list pinned to the YHA notice board and been ejected promptly at nine o’clock.

I do not argue about being squashed beside Ed, in the middle of the back seat, away from the windows, as I am feeling sympathetic.  My brothers have had a more frightening night than me.  I am sleeping above my mother in one of six bunks, whilst they are in a male dormitory with my father and four other men who might unwittingly piss him off. 

The windows of the car are thick with condensation and our hair is already wet.  The cagoules squeak as we jostle against each other, pinching and poking.  Soundlessly though, for there is disharmony between those in the front seats.

Dad turns on the radio, moving the dial up through a furious amount of hiss and squeaks.  The rustle in the back seat swells.  He snaps his head over his shoulder and bawls:

‘If you don’t quit it I’ll knock your heads together’. 

In town, the garish lights of the fair wink in the grey morning.  They merge and blur as the raindrops trail down the glass. Dad reverses into a space of the abandoned car park.  Along the back seat we push one another back and forth until a large hand reaches in, and hauls each of us out, one by one.  On the seafront the wind smears my damp cagoule to my back, ballooning it out in front.  

The rain drums the pavements and windows, and we will not be allowed back to the Youth Hostel for another six and a half hours.  Perhaps I dawdle, perhaps I wear an expression of despair, for I cannot imagine I ever had the courage to complain. 

But of the rest of the day all I remember is Dad’s fingers clamped tight on my shoulder, his right hand fisted near my face. I feel I may lift off the ground with the force of his rage. He is shouting,