The Woman From Glossop

July 19th 2006

On the flight home, due to a mix-up at the check-in desk, The Trouble and I were split up and I found myself seated next to a Woman from Glossop who spent the entire flight telling the man seated the other side of her all about her timeshare apartment in Peurto del Carmen, the main resort in Lanzarote.  

Like me the Woman from Glossop had been split up from her spouse on the flight but apparently this had been arranged on purpose as they ‘always sat apart on flights as we see enough of each other while we’re in Lanzarote’. I have no doubt that it was the Man from Glossop who insisted on these travelling arrangements, indeed if I had been him not only would I have insisted on a separate seat but it would have been on a separate aeroplane. Prior to the flight I knew next to nothing about timeshare apartments, which is about as much as I want to know, but by the time we’d landed at Manchester Airport about a million hours later the Woman from Glossop had ensured that I knew much more about them than I wanted to know, to the power of ten.
Her current apartment, ‘south-facing, veranda, two bedrooms both with en- suite, loads of storage space and a communion pool (I think she meant communal pool but you never know, perhaps the timeshare complex has a resident vicar and they have a Baptism ‘n Barbecue Night), was her third, all of them in Puerto del Carmen, the present one acquired in 1999, the first – no en-suite unfortunately, but a bidet – acquired in 1985. At first the Woman from Glossop had just the one week’s timeshare entitlement per year but by now she and the Man from Glossop were up to six weeks per year, in two week segments.

During the last eighteen years they had never been anywhere else for a holiday other than to their timeshare apartment in Lanzarote.
Now I’ve nothing against Lanzarote – you’re certainly not going to die from over-excitement there but in a clean, easy going, always nice weather, not-too-many-Germans sort of place, it is ideal. But six weeks there every year? While places like Provence and Tuscany and Crete go unvisited?

I learned that for the remaining forty six weeks of the year the Woman from Glossop and the Man from Glossop spend their time in Glossop, saving up to spend the other six weeks in Lanzarote. They never went anywhere else, so the Woman from Glossop informed the Man not from Glossop seated the other side of her, because if they did they wouldn’t be able to afford their full quota of six weeks in Lanzarote. Now I have been to Glossop – by mistake I must admit, I got on the wrong bus – and it is not the sort of place you would wish to spend forty six weeks of the year in, indeed forty six hours would be more than enough, and that’s provided you found something to do there, which is doubtful, unless you are into watching the traffic lights change.

Yet this couple had deliberately chosen to live out their lives in it for forty six weeks in every year, and the other six weeks in Lanzarote. Nowhere else on Earth existed for them. Their entire life consisted of being in Glossop or Lanzarote or the twenty-five mile stretch of road between Glossop and Manchester Airport, a road only slightly more enjoyment enhancing than the road to perdition.

Can you credit this? They had deliberately consigned themselves to a world without France and Italy and Greece, a world where the Lake District and the Cotswolds and the Yorkshire Dales don’t exist, a place where Edinburgh Castle and York Minster and Stonehenge might just as well be on the Moon. What sort of person can do this? The mind boggles. Mine did, on the flight back. And whilst it was boggling I fell asleep and thankfully didn’t wake up until we had started the descent to Manchester Airport. When I did The Woman from Glossop was telling the Man not from Glossop that next year she and the Man from Glossop hoped to be going to Lanzarote for seven weeks. Still, that’s one less week in Glossop.