Maureen: XL hell ended my client's holiday... and his marriage

Maureen: XL hell ended my client's holiday... and his marriage

XL hell spells D.I.V.O.R.C.E.

Thanks to my Catholic upbringing, even now I feel misplaced guilt at the slightest thing.

Last week I mentioned I was anxious I had sown a murderous seed in a client's mind when I joked that she could deal a deadly blow to her husband with a frozen leg of lamb. This week, another client's relationship had me getting out the rosary again.

The chap was one half of a couple I'd booked on a holiday to Greece last September. Unfortunately, because of the collapse of XL Leisure Group, with which they were booked to fly, they were unable to travel.

The same man called in this week to book another holiday. I remembered what he'd told me about his wife's preferences regarding flights and resorts from the brief I'd been given the first time around.

Naturally then, when it came to finding something this time round, I recapped what I thought she had wanted and wittered on about how nice it was that they were going to get away, albeit six months late.

"Erm, I won't actually be going on holiday with my wife," he interrupted, "it's someone else I'm taking away."

Well that halted me in my tracks.

"You see, the holiday in September was going to be a sort of second honeymoon," the man explained, "because we'd been going through a rough patch" I nodded sympathetically. I've listened to a lot of clients' 'rough patches' in the past and know all the right noises to make.

"When the holiday fell through, I took it as a sign."

"A sign?"

"Yes. A sign that we weren't meant to be together. So I suggested we separate."

"You decided to separate from your wife because XL went bust?" I asked, incredulous, as it's the first time I've heard an operator's collapse cited as grounds for divorce.

"Something like that," laughed the client, "anyway, my new girlfriend is a lot more adventurous We like trying new things. That's where you come in."

I dreaded to think what he was about to say and was relieved when he said this meant they could travel long haul.

That evening, I was overcome with a terrible feeling that if I had secured flights with Thomas Cook or Monarch Airlines the couple might still be together.

Does fate really work through tour operators?

The perfect match

I caught up this week with Virgin Holidays head of public relations Karen Tippett. As we chatted, she let slip that she is getting married on April 25 to her fiancé, Piers at Chelsea Register Office.

There is a fly in the ointment, however. Piers is a big Arsenal fan and Karen hasn't yet checked to find out whether his team are playing that day. She tells me he hasn't missed a match yet, and doesn't intend to, wedding or no wedding.

If the worst comes to the worst, she may just have to ensure she books a slot in half time, even if it means trading a glass of champagne for a half-time orange.

Sharon's big break

Also playing catch-up this week was Sharon from Sunset who popped in to see us after a long absence. We thought she'd dropped off the planet, so it was a lovely surprise when she called in with updates on the promotion Sunset has set up with the Mauritius Tourist Board.

It turns out it was an accident that put Sharon out of circulation and left her unable to drive.

"I tripped over on the patio and smashed my elbow," she said. "Nobody believes me when I say I'd only stepped out to put out some bird seed. They think it was a drunken fall outside a nightclub."

That damned bird seed. I've been caught out by it myself!

A sweet ending

So, the last bag of Woolworths pick 'n' mix went at auction for more than £14,000. That's an expensive sugar rush and I only wonder whether they will ever be eaten and, if so, what sort of occasion would merit their consumption?

Apparently, the sweets have iconic status in pop culture. I only wish now that I'd saved the last packet of peanuts on a British Airways flight, or the last British Rail sandwich. Food, it seems, is finance.

Maureen Hill works at Travel Angels, Gillingham, Dorset


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