Trust Confucius to put it in a nutshell: ‘Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.’
That’s all very well for him to say. Chinese labourers swarming round him, slaving themselves towards an early grave, while he sat under a shady tree thinking up a few quotes. I bet he had days he couldn’t even be bothered being pithy and original. And he fell back on the same old lazy start to every sentence: ‘Confucius say…’
By Mr Confucius’ reasoning, most of a writer’s life is a holiday, and so it must appear to those who do jobs that actually need to be done. In vain do I grumble to friends about producers breathing gently down my neck while deadlines loom (or ‘whoosh by’, to quote Douglas Adams). There’s little sympathy for a writer from people whose work actually matters.
But there’s a flip side to my relaxing chosen career; in recent years most of my holidays have been taken for purposes of writing about them, either for money or in a pathetic attempt to attract blog hits. In other words, they have been work. But not this time.
The selected venue for our annual summer holiday was, as often before, the Mornington Peninsula, just an hour’s drive south-east of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. It began with a family event, meeting up with southern relatives, many of whom we only see once a year.
I can’t describe it any better than Tim Minchin does in his song ‘Drinking White Wine in the Sun’.
We’re on the Westernport Bay side of the peninsula, the quiet side. The built-up beach suburbs of Port Phillip Bay stretch pretty much continuously out to Portsea, but there’s less going on on our side.
Westernport has chic boutique wineries, with tastings and talks and summer music concerts and restaurants and children’s playgrounds. We didn’t bother with any of them.
Westernport Bay has beaches, though not fashionable ones. No deckchairs, no beer tents, no apartment blocks lining the foreshore. Not many people either. We didn’t spoil the scene by actually swimming.
There are horse-riding and mountain-biking trails. You can run them if you like. We walked. You sometimes find a koala in a tree or one of these chaps ambling along. He wasn’t in a hurry either.
We read books and played backyard cricket.
Then we took a trip up to Melbourne for the traditional Boxing Day test match.
Apart from that…we just kind of hung out, waiting for a new year to begin.
It felt good to come back from a holiday not feeling that we needed a break to recover from the holiday.
Yet…oh dear, I couldn’t help myself! Now I’ve turned it into work by writing about it, with yet more deadlines whooshing towards me.