on 16 November 2000
Its difficult to believe that less than fifty years ago, unless they'd been fighting for King and country, most people in Britain had little or no experience of foreign travel, and high factor sun cream and greasy tapas bars were an entire world away. Based on the oral history of travellers with extraordinary stories, "Some Liked it Hot" presents a vivid picture of what post-war tourism has really been like and about how we've reached the height of holiday snobbery that we know today.
The authors have thankfully veered away from making grandiose statements about social trends and the psychological motivation for wanderlust and instead we get a series of wonderfully evocative first hand holiday vignettes.
There's the 1950's naturist who feared she would lose her job if anyone found out where she'd been and the pioneering family Fagg who converted a wartime ambulance into a caravan and toured Europe. The yearning for romance and a better life inevitably becomes a recurring theme, and is at its most poignant with stories such as that of Gladys Nuttall, who went to Cleethorpes in 1947, fell in love with the man who looked after the beach donkeys, and has not been home since.
The photographs are great too. Check out Pete Bradshaw and his friends at Butlins Filey looking like invaders from Mars in their beatnik spectacles, and a decidedly uncomfortable looking Margaret Rowe posing next to the patent bikini vending machine.
The authors have done a first rate job in tracking down the right people, and as such this should become a valuable social document in what is a much neglected area. Particularly good are the chapters on the original magic bus, the early years of touring caravans and high society ski resorts where the lah-di-dahs went to dip into their fondues.
Those of us who are only used to modern package tours and weekend breaks will find this a fascinating read, taking us as it does from bathing machines to bungee jumping and hop-picking to Sir Freddie Laker. If you've ever wondered why we endure tailbacks on the M5, battles over sun loungers, and endless folklore filled nights in some third rate foreign disco, then this book goes a long way to giving us the answer. I can thoroughly recommend it.