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The great getaway

01 August 2014

SOME people go on holiday "to get away from it all". In Magaluf, this will probably include consciousness.

Magaluf is a holiday resort on the Spanish island of Majorca, primarily catering for the British, Russian, Irish, and Scandinavian package-holiday market. It is also what is known as a "party capital", frequented mainly by young people aged 18 to 25, who are looking for alcohol-related adventures in the sun. You do not go to Magaluf for a contemplative walk round an art gallery, or a yoga retreat. You go there to get hammered with a large number of boys and girls your own age, and to see what happens.

And what happened recently hit the headlines, when a drunk British teenage girl was filmed giving 24 men oral sex, paid for with a drink. "No one who knows Magaluf will be surprised," one party animal said. "It's what happens; it's why people come." It is also why some people are sent home.

The Vice-president of the Palmanova-Magaluf Hotel Association, Joan Espina, said: "The vast majority of the expulsions are down to three reasons. The first is guests' damaging hotel furniture, kicking doors down, smashing mirrors, and even throwing TVs out of their rooms. The others are fights with other guests, and verbal and physical attacks on hotel staff."

It all sounds surprisingly like an evening with the Bullingdon Club, Oxford's exclusive society for the rich - also famous for its "boisterous rituals", as Wikipedia calls them. It is a phrase that some-how feels more innocent, more charming than "drunken young louts letting rip in a wholly selfish manner".

But it does raise the questions what it is to relax, and what we look for when we have time off work. Given a holiday, some choose to spend most of the time inebriated, whether in Falaraki, on the island of Rhodes (another party capital), or on a yacht in the Mediterranean.

Some grab their guide books, and fill every moment with imagined self-improvement and learning. Others lie by the pool and read 14 novels, which all become one - an activity punctuated only by iced coffee from the bar and sun-cream top-ups.

The common theme in all of these holidays is the keen avoidance of mind space, and for good reasons. Many find holidays disturbing because, removed from the scaffolding of the routine, unresolved issues come unbidden to the surface. And the fact that you are on holiday just makes it worse. As someone said to me: "Things come up on holiday, they always do, and then I get angry with myself: 'You ought to be enjoying yourself: you're on holiday!'"

On holiday, we can get away from it all, but we cannot get away from ourselves. I need a drink.


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