This summer, my siblings and I are taking our mum abroad for her 70th birthday (I’m 99% certain she won’t mind me mentioning her age, and I only do so because I wouldn’t want any of you to think we’re this extravagant with our gifts for ‘normal’ birthdays – last year we got her slippers), and to say it’s been a little stressful organising everything would be an understatement.
Aside from the usual logistics of booking a holiday for ten people, on dates we were all available, to a destination and hotel we were all happy with, we have also had to contend with the additional hurdles and concerns thrown at us in this post-COVID world in which we now find ourselves living.
The main problem, and source of many headaches over the past few months, has been Ollie (which makes a change from the source of all my headaches being his younger sibling), because he will be turning 12 in just a few weeks from now, which – under the previous rules when travelling to Spain – meant he had to be double-jabbed to be allowed into the country. And, because the current guidelines are that COVID vaccinations must be at least twelve weeks apart, plus we needed to then allow a further fortnight following his second jab before travelling, we didn’t have enough time between his birthday and our departure date to comply with the rules.
Thankfully, not only have Spain since relaxed their entry requirements (so those who are unvaccinated can now supply proof of a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours of departure instead), but the UK have since opened up vaccinations for 5-11 year old children, so Ollie has been able to have his first jab before he turns 12, thereby giving us enough time to get his second – and still allow that additional fortnight – before we fly. Phew.
So, with the vaccination issue thankfully resolved, and with my brother and his family hopefully in receipt of their passports shortly, we can finally now start looking forward to our first family holiday abroad since 2015, and my first with my siblings and mother since 1996.
Having celebrated my own birthday a few months ago, and with some money and vouchers still left over, I recently decided to treat myself to some new ‘summer’ clothes, which will hopefully compliment the glorious six-pack that I fully intend to have by the time we travel (and which will no doubt disappear by the second day, when I hit the all-inclusive buffet and bar like a man possessed). I was particularly delighted with the ‘3 for 2’ deal I got on some leopard print banana hammocks.
Form an orderly queue, ladies.
Then, while surfing the interweb (I believe that’s how the kids refer to it these days) a few weeks ago, I stumbled across a ‘retro’ football website offering a wide range of personalised gifts, many of which featured classic football kits from yesteryear, and I decided to have a quick search to see if they had anything featuring my beloved Stockport County.
Imagine my surprise when, not only did the site have a few products on offer (including a mug, a passport holder and, rather specifically, a phone case for a very limited range of phones – not including my own), but they all featured one of my favourite Stockport County kits of all time, our home shirt from the 1992-93 season, which was around the time I started attending matches regularly.
Isn’t it glorious?
The item which really caught my eye, however, was a ‘lightweight’ (in other words, ‘cheap’) beach towel, helpfully illustrated by the company as follows:
Ah, so that’s what a beach towel (and beach) looks like. Ta very much.
While I was under no illusions about the probable quality of said towel, and I was confident the material would feel cheap (even if the cost of the product certainly wasn’t), I decided it was worth the expense to be the envy of everyone sunbathing around me while on holiday, not to mention the fact that – when coupled with my new buff physique – I would be a focal point for the lustful eyes of every woman in the Puerto Pollensa area.
Then, just as I was about to checkout and pay for my new sexy beach towel, I remembered that my brother’s birthday was coming up and, although we had already sorted his gift, he too is an avid Stockport fan, and this way we could be ‘beach buddies’.
So, I altered the quantity box to ‘2’ before checking out, added my address and card details, and paid the GDP of a small African nation.
Unfortunately, my excitement at receiving a large, soft package (much like the contents of the aforementioned banana hammocks) through the post a couple of weeks later was short-lived, because, while the company in question had indeed sent me one Stockport County beach towel as requested…
… they had inexplicably sent me a (rather nasty looking) West Ham one with it.
I’m not quite sure how ‘Stockport County beach towel x 2’ could be so badly misinterpreted (I checked, and the confirmation e-mail had my order correct, so there was certainly no error on my part), but I then had to e-mail the company to explain my dissatisfaction and to request the correct towel be sent out.
I did – after some time – receive an e-mailed apology, confirming a second Stockport towel would be posted to me as soon as possible, but they have thus far ignored my offer to return the unnecessary West Ham one (so long as it won’t cost me anything to post back), and unless they get back to me soon I guess I’m stuck with it.
Fast forward to this week, and another large, soft package arrived, which I opened to again reveal a glorious Stockport County beach towel…
… this time accompanied by a Barnsley one.
You couldn’t make this shit up.
I can only assume there is one of three explanations for this ridiculous chain of events:
- The company in question employs a bunch of morons in their stock/post room.
- They have a large quantity of unwanted West Ham and Barnsley beach towels they cannot shift, so are now giving them away to (presumably very confused) customers; or
- They mistakenly believe beach towels require some form of extra protection when being sent by post, and are using other towels which they had lying around to ensure nothing gets broken or smashed in transit.
Whatever the reason, the company are not replying to my subsequent e-mails, so I’m now stuck with two unwanted beach towels, for football clubs nowhere near me, and for which I do not know any fans I can pass them on to.