I like the idea of Thomas and Hermione Shithead on a Grand Tour - to see the world through their eyes would be such a privilege. Just so as you know, their name is pronounced Shith-edd, and they are continually having to correct registrars and others on the correct way to say it, which can get tiresome.
Although from relatively humble backgrounds, the Shitheads are widely travelled, and continuously seek to broaden their knowledge of the world and its inhabitants. Not for them, the package tour or gated community, they prefer to get down with the locals and visit the souks - adopt the customs of the natives to the best of their ability. They should write a travel guide or two.
They pride themselves on their ability to mix with all classes and walks of life, from the lowliest of rustics to the horse-riding nobles who are their landlords. Thomas Shithead's accent cannot be pinpointed to any specific area within a one hundred mile radius of central London, or any particular social class, though it is generally perceived to somewhere upward of middle.
Hermione's betrays her birthplace as Yorkshire - precisely Sheffield to those with sharp ears. For this reason, she tends to take over negotiations when Thomas rubs people up the wrong way by attempting to assert an authority he does not possess, especially when dealing with tradesmen or hotel staff who - in his eyes - begin to get ideas above their station. One would have thought that the endless sniggers and smirks when he writes his name on forms and guest books, would have driven him to change it by deed-poll, but another characteristic trait of his is stubbornness.
Hermione gets on with everyone and has done since she was a small girl. She disarms belligerent shopkeepers by gently reaching out and holding onto their forearm whilst smiling straight into their eyes as she repeats the order or request. At social gatherings, she responds to introductions by kissing strangers of both sexes - full on the lips. For this reason, Thomas Shithead tends to refuse invitations to parties when in in Moslem countries, unless they are from the British Embassy. Hermione cannot kiss anyone without leaving a quickly cooling trace of saliva behind - there is no such thing as a dry kiss with her. In days gone by, this made her many ardent men-friends, but times change and morés change with them.
Hermione speaks no other language than English, and refuses to even attempt to. Thomas has - over the years - picked up a smidgen of many European languages, and prides himself on being able to order beer in any bar between the English Channel and the Bosphorus - well, 500 miles short of the Bosphorus, actually. Food can be trickier, as when a whole haunch of un-boned and un-rinsed salt beef was placed in front of him in a Madrid restaurant when he thought he had ordered an omelet.
Little personal details like this will not make their travel writing of much practical use to anyone visiting a country for the first time, but ought to raise a laugh or two.
Wednesday - Today was the day earmarked for Christmas Dinner at The Creamery in Hawes with friends P and D from Windermere. Some years ago the cheese factory in Hawes ...
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