You can tell they’re getting excited. There’s a bit of messing and giddiness. Some are absent already. It’s harder to maintain discipline. Yes, the Dáil is approaching its Summer recess. They had their annual School Play a couple of weeks ago when Fine Gael put on a production of Julius Caesar. They’ve a couple of (blood)Sports Days this week. For some, like Fianna Fáil’s Mattie McGrath, it will be a relief to get away from the bullying.

Perhaps Brian Cowen will spend some time in a caravan as he did last year. He could use it to hold a Fianna Fáil rally. A kitchenette and fold-away bed can now comfortably accommodate Fianna Fáil’s core support. Like all workers before they go on a break, TDs will go through the classic pre-holiday routine: Pretending to tie up all loose ends while actually leaving a huge mess behind them.

We all do it. In the week before the holiday we are wildly optimistic about what we can get done. We imagine we will achieve such a high level of productivity that in Soviet Russia we would have starred in a propaganda film.

His co-workers salute Comrade O’Regan as he answers 14 tons of emails in a single week.

In reality, just as you’re about to leave, something will go dramatically wrong. And though you’re not the only one responsible, you are the only one leaving soon. So in order to prevent everyone else from blaming you while you are away, you need to sort it out. Now.

Which leaves you with about 20 minutes to do the comprehensive handover you’d promised. So now you hand things over like you would hand a broken washing machine over a ditch. You dump it on someone else.

The climax of this abdication is the writing of your Out of Office Reply. The Out Of Office Reply is an automated email that will be sent to anyone who contacts you while you are away. Although it looks like a normal email, it actually plays a little video in the reader’s mind of you, umbrella-drink in hand, gloating on the beach. Your words taunt them. You feign concern at their problem and promise to look at it when you get back. You suggest some other people who might help though you don’t care if they do or not because you’re looking at your feet at the end of the sun lounger marveling at how clean your toenails are.

For an extra touch of emotional blackmail, you may put your phone number at the end.

If your call is urgent, you can contact me on my mobile.

What this sentence actually means is:

Don’t contact me on my mobile. If you do call me, then you are a  failed human being. I will answer the phone but not the first time. That means you will have to ring me again. While doing that, take a long look at yourself and what you are doing. Is that the kind of man you are? We used to be friends.

Of course many people don’t work in an office so the out of office reply is not necessarily an email. Farmers leave a dog in charge of the ‘out of farm’ reply.

If your query relates to round bales of straw, Woof Woof. If your query relates to stealing our lawnmower and a cast iron fireplaces out of the shed WOOFWOOFWOOFWOOF

So with the Out of Office Reply written, it’s time to go. But where?

In these straitened times, many people are holidaying at home. This doesn’t mean you should spend your holiday in your own house. That would be a mistake. In the midday light, everything in your house looks broken and shabby. So you spend time sorting the place out and before you know it, the holiday is over. It is a well known fact that time does not fly when you’re having fun. Time flies when you spend your day off in HomeBase buying a toilet seat.

So even on a staycation you need to leave the house and go somewhere else in Ireland. It can be fun rediscovering your own country. Get a guide book and laugh at how your homeplace is described. It’s rather like reading a friend’s internet dating profile. You recognise the photo but the description is completely unfamiliar. “Cultured? I suppose she does like culture, if drinking 10 West Coast Coolers and falling asleep in a wheelbarrow is cultural…

The other plus of holidaying in Ireland is that it puts an end to travel snobbery. This is a change from the boom-days where everyone competed for having the most adventurous and exotic holiday.

So, we crossed into Burma on a Rebels Incursion Adventure. It was so authentic. The government forces used real bullets. We were caught by the ruling junta and water-boarded until an international campaign led to our release. We really got a taste of the culture. The kids loved it.

Now it’s all changed. There’s no need to compete. We’re just glad to get away.

Oh it was great –We went mental on the buffet breakfast – grapes and blue cheese BEFORE the fry and a handbag full of mini-muffins. Murder She Wrote and Magnum Golds in the afternoon. The decadence!

No wonder they’re getting excited in the Dáil.

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