In the years preceding my emigration to Cologne, Germany, in 1988 I used to go away on holiday breaks to various cities in Europe maybe 7 or 8 times a year - sometimes for long week-ends, sometimes for a week, occasionally for longer. I won't hide the fact that the motivation for most of these trips was essentially for reasons of searching out sexual excitements. I'd spend a large part of the time cruising bars (mainly leather bars, especially those with 'dark rooms'), discos, saunas, parks (at night-time) and other well-known and notorious 'meeting places' - and often spend a significant part of the daylight hours catching up on sleep in my hotel room. (It was always a problem trying to synchronise my daytime naps with the times of the room-cleaning service.) Even while living in Cologne I'd continue visiting other cities and countries with the same aim as before.
Well, even if I had the resources to continue in that style, those days are necessarily long over. I just don't have the stamina any more that such a lifestyle demands - and besides, being now in my mid-60s, it would not only look absurd but it would be a succession of humiliating experiences in my being refused the attention I sought. (I don't think that there are that many guys around looking for a 'daddy' - and I don't want to experience the pain of finding how few there really are.)
But it must sound like I enjoy not having had a proper holiday for long - and am even boastful about it. It seems unlikely that anyone, other than the really destitute, would be in circumstances that prevent just an odd break even once every few years. Sadly, that is indeed the case. Since returning from Germany (against my wishes) in 1991 it has been a continuous 'downer' thereafter. My only times away from the place I was living in at the time was to visit my increasingly ailing mother, which was hardly a 'relaxing' experience, though I did always love to see her. Since my mum died in 2006 my only times away now are annual visits to my sister (older than me by 9 years), taking in a drop-in to my eldest brother and his family. This also, though a change of scene, can hardly be called a 'holiday'. No, for over 21 years I've not had the opportunity to go away with the principal intention of just enjoying myself.
For a long time many of the dreams I experience are located in the foreign haunts I used to know so well, which must only reflect an intense yearning to see them again. Though I'd only be going as a sightseer if I returned to these places now, I'd so love to re-visit those familiar places, if only to see how they've changed over two decades.
Then, of course, there's so much of the rest of the world to explore - though one thing in particular would restrict my choice of where to go. Visiting a country where animals are used casually (for example, just drawing a cart - but particularly where it's not absolutely necessary, and, for example, in hot weather where the animal's owner is too lazy), witnessing it would cause me such sorrow that it would overshadow the rest of the time on holiday. So if I'm to avoid that, huge areas of the world must be ruled out. Seeing animals, birds, even live fish, on sale in markets with the intention that they are to be slaughtered, would give rise to such mental suffering that it would be pointless to continue with the holiday.
But there's also so much of these small islands of my own country to explore. Not just large sections of England, but I've only ever been to Scotland twice - and that was to Edinburgh alone both times (not exactly typical of that country!). And I've never once been to Wales.
Now I've got the cats living with me. When I do go away to visit my sister the cats are put in a cattery for four or five days, though that too causes me grief to do it. But going on holiday for a week or longer and I'd be spending more time worrying about them than enjoying myself. Pity I don't know anyone who could take care of them, but that is the case.
Anyway, no point in thinking about the cats while there's still not the remotest chance that I'm going to need to leave them alone for a long time. A holiday is a luxury that is so unlikely - at least unless I win a substantial amount in the National Lottery. Now with my landlord putting up my rent (and which alone now takes up my entire state pension!) thinking of holidays remains, more than ever, just a 'pipe dream'.
So, when people say to me "Have a nice holiday!", even though they are only assuming the nicest interpretation of my absence, and they certainly wouldn't intend to be deliberately rubbing salt in the wound, although I say it myself, I think I have every right to feel at least a tiny bit peeved.