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What I did in my summer holidays

Opinion

Adelaide writer Stephen Orr channels his inner Year 9 in this back-to-school report on his European summer holiday.

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What I did in my summer holidays

By Stephen Orr, 5B, Mrs Headley

This report what I write on the first day of school 2020 is called ‘What I did in my summer holidays’. It is written under difficult conditions as the ‘rotten state government’ (as Mr Johnson calls them) has closed our old school and dumped us in a crap high school a few blocks away. I looked this up and its called AMALGAMATION and it makes schools work better which is probably best as our NAPLAN scores were pretty shit. Mr Johnson says most of us are ‘functionally illiterate’ and the government just want to save money to pay more ‘stupid public servants’.

Anyway, we (Mum, Dad and my brother) flew to a place called Doha, where we had a Whopper, and there were lots of Arabian people trying to sell Dad vodka. Then we got on another plane to a place called Paris. The plane was late and the man who was meant to drive us to our hotel had gone but another man with a sort of beard said hed take us instead and Mum and Dad said okay but on the way he said he wanted lots of money and Dad said no and it got pretty scary, and that was how my trip started. Anyway, the driver was crap, and never used his blinker and cut in front of everyone and texted with one hand and smoked with the other while he steered with his knee. Mum said this was usual for Paris, and not to worry. When we got to the hotel the man wanted his money and followed us into the lobby but the clerk said dont pay him, but we did anyway, because he looked pretty scary.

Anyway, we had a room with two toilets which was fun, as you could give your bum a sort of shower. There was only French stuff on the telly, except something called the BBC, but that was as boring as batshit, so me and my brother Jack watched Netflix on our computer and Mum said what the hell are you doing that for when were in Paris? So we went out for tea in a place called Place de la Republik but couldnt find nothing to eat so we had a sort of yiros thingo which was shit. Dad was still angry about the driver, and he got really angry when everyone just bumped into him, smoked where we were trying to eat, tried to run us over with their bikes (on the wrong side of the road) and cars. Mum said to him I hope youre not going to complain the whole trip and he said he wasnt complaining but she said he was and called him Carl Pilkington and he got more angry when she did this and said lets just go back to the room.

We were hungry. But it was a holiday and everything was shut.

Anyway, the next day we wanted to go to see a church called Notre Dame. We went to go on an underground train but it was all locked up because the Frogs (Dads name) were on strike to get more money. Dad said this was typical of unions and Mum told him to shut up, but he just said how the hell are we meant to get around Paris?

So we walked all the way to a river called the Seine, stopping at a McDonalds that had good croissants but they didnt have jam. Dad asked the woman why but she just shrugged, and he said didnt she speak English¸ and she shrugged again, and he said typical, and ‘these people are so arrogant’, and ‘theyre just shitty because English is the global language’. Then we walked in the freezing cold and rain, we passed a place called the Pompidou Centre which was all pipes and stuff and Dad said it was the ugliest goddamn building hed seen in his life and wasnt this city meant to be beautiful? It wasnt beautiful yet, with all the old men sleeping in doorways, and rubbish everywhere and Dad said it was like visiting some joint in the Third World and Mum said stop crapping on. Then we got to Notre Dame, which was a nice church, but unfortunately someone had burned most of it down, so we had to stand behind a big fence and try and get a picture.

Next, we crossed the river and there were lots of really nice old buildings, but there were always police cars going everywhere with their sirens on and Dad said a bit of that ‘Charlie Hebdo shit’ goes a long way. But we got to a bookshop called Shakespeare and Co. and Dad started crapping on about how some famous writer called James Joyce used to hang out here. Mum said who? He shook his head and said youve gotta be kidding! Then we stopped at a souvenir shop and Dad got a beret and put it on and Mum said that looks ridiculous and took it off him and wouldnt let him wear it. We had coffee in a proper Paris cafe, with gold taps in the toilet (although we had to pay a Euro each to go, and Dad said that proved we were in the Third World). Then we walked though the Latin Quarter although I dont know where the other quarters were and we ended up at a place called the Pantheon.

Boring! There were statues and paintings and a big pendulum in the middle by someone called Fucall but the bloke wouldnt let us have a go. Then we went down into the basement where lots of famous people are buried and Dad started crapping on about Victor Hugo. Mum said we had to go, and Dad said something like, You may only ever come here once in your life and she said something like thats once too many. We were hungry. But it was a holiday and everything was shut.

Christmas trees on the streets of Paris. Photo: Stephen Orr

So we decided to go to the Eiffel Tower (we could see it from the Pantheon steps). Dad said it wasnt far, and wed have to walk because the Lefties had their claws in this joint too, so we started walking. We went through some nice gardens called the Luxemburg Gardens where you could sail your ship but we didnt have one and some rich kids did and Dad said typical rich, all for them. Look, hes a Saints boy, and hes a Princes boy (so f***** entitled) and Mum said now we get the class rant and he said why not, half this joint driving a Bentley and the other half homeless. They had a revolution about that, remember? The guillotine? He said maybe thats what they need again, but over the next few days we saw squillions of people out protesting on the streets and letting off flares. So maybe Dad was right. And maybe those little rich kids should share their stuff next time?

We got to the Eiffel Tower and it was really big, and we all started climbing the steps, but Dad got vertigo and had to come down and Mum just laughed and he said I dont think its funny but she said she did. So he just waited with all the blokes selling little Eiffel Towers and phone-chargers and selfie-sticks while we went All the way up. And later when we came down he said, Good, was it? And Mum smiled like shed never smiled before and said, It was fan-bloody-tastic.

Anyway, by now it was freezing cold, and nearly dark, so we walked back down to the river and caught a boat back to Notre Dame and walked all the way back to our hotel, where there was another protest, and cops with big dogs and machine guns. I said to Dad do you reckon the cop would let me hold his gun but he said unlikely.

Paris laneway. Photo: Stephen Orr

The next day we went to an art gallery called the Louvre. The line was about a mile long and we waited in the rain for two hours, then went in, and all anyone wanted to do was sit down and get warm, but we had to look at all the paintings. Most were pretty shit. There were a few Id seen, one with some woman with her arms crossed, but there were hundreds of people trying to see it and Dad said if they didnt let in all the tour groups from China then we might have a chance. Mum said they had just as much right as anyone and they started again. Anyway, after we got sick of the paintings we walked to a shopping centre called Les Halles, which was sort of like Tea Tree Plaza except it wasn’t (Dad said) full of bogans. Anyway, by now everyone was tired, and wed spent about 20 Euros going to toilets (Dad kept telling Jack to hold it in but he couldnt). So we got on a bus that went all around Paris because Dad said it was the only way to tick all the boxes. This was cool. I took a video and you can watch it. The driver was nuts and tried to run everyone down. Dad said this was okay as they were used to busy roads and it was better than back in Adelaide where the roads were full of idiots and the government fining everyone for every little thing because they had to raise more money to pay more stupid public servants (like Mr Johnson said!).

We wanted to see the Arc of Triumph, but only drove past it really quickly because it was dark again and the whole city was in a big traffic jam and we were stuck next to some smelly people on the bus who kept eating salami. But the next day was better because the same bus took us to the Paris Opera and we saw where the phantom lived (like the hunchback at Notre Dame). It was real posh. Not like this new school. Then we walked over to this enormous shopping place called Gallery Lafayette but everything was so dear we couldnt even afford lunch and wed run out of toilet money so we walked back to the Republik Place.

The next day we went to a place called Monmartre where there were tonnes of shops selling, you know, leather and studs and willy things, and there were shows where people were in the nude. We saw a windmill called Moulin Rouge and Dad said Nicole Kidman was in a film about it. Then we walked a few blocks to a church on a hill. There were fifty or more African guys and they put bracelets on peoples wrists and would only take them off for 5 Euro. Dad said hed read about this, and we kept away. There were more army guys with machine guns and Dad said why the hell didnt they stop them doing it? Anyway, we climbed this enormous hill and Mum said her knee had packed up, but Dad said whose the pussy now, and they had more words, and when we got to the top the church wasnt that good anyway.

Well, Ill skip the boring stuff, like the cemetery Dad took us to where all the famous people like The Doors guy are buried. Im already 1800 words over my limit so Ill stop here. After Paris we went to Switzerland, Rome, Prague, Poland, Copenhagen and all over Germany. Funny thing is my parents stopped arguing after a while, and Jack dealt with his bladder, and Dads gout and vertigo (luckily) stayed under control. Next year were going to England. Dad says its important to keep travelling, as it keeps your mind open to new things.

Nice work, Stephen. I’ve corrected your spelling, but you need to work on your apostrophes. Perhaps don’t show this one to your parents (or Mr Johnson)?

7/10

Mrs Headley

Stephen Orr is an Adelaide writer. His latest novel, This Excellent Machine, is a coming-of-age novel in the most fibro tradition.

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