Hello. My name is Jonathan Meres and I’m extraordinarily funny. Which came in very handy when I was asked to write one of the stories for the beachtastic Holiday Ha Ha Ha! anthology, available now at all good book shops and several rubbish ones. And now I’ve been asked to tell you a funny summer-related anecdote of my own. Brilliant. Because not only do I love an anecdote, but I also happen to love summer. I know. What are the odds, eh? In fact, if I’m ever asked to make a list of my Top 4 Seasons, summer will be right up there.
Anyway if it’s OK with you, I thought I’d tell you about something that isn’t particularly side-splittingly funny in a hilarious way, more like funny in a ‘blimey, fancy that,’ kind of way. I mean I’ll do my best to chuck in a couple of gags here and there, but I’m not going to make any rash promises. Because essentially this is a true story. Well, not essentially. It is a true story. This really did happen. And it really did happen a long time ago now. Before my wife and I started having children. Or strictly speaking, before my wife started having children. We went on holiday, to France. To the picturesque and rather lovely Dordogne region, to be geographically precise.
By the way I don’t know about you – frankly it would be a bit freaky if I did - but I have the weirdest dreams when I’m on holiday. No idea why. There’s probably some perfectly rational psychological explanation for it. But anyway, I do. And I remember I’d had one that day, just before I woke up and this anecdote happened.
So, on this day, right, we decided to visit the caves at Lascaux. Which are very famous because there are these amazing cave paintings, said to be over 17000 years old or something. And that’s like, well old? Anyway blah blah blah and they were great. Then afterwards we went to the visitor centre. There was a book for writing comments in. About the caves, that is. Not just comments in general. Anyway I was just about to write something when I noticed that the woman in front of me was from Leicestershire. Not that people from Leicestershire are particularly distinctive looking. I just happened to notice that she’d written ‘Leicestershire’ in the bit where it said ‘Name and address.’ I’m observant like that. That’s why I’m a writer.
So anyway I said, ‘I used to live in Leicestershire.’ Which I did, by the way. I didn’t just make it up. I wasn’t that desperate to make conversation. Feigning interest, she said, ‘Really?’ Undeterred, I said, ‘Yes. Whereabouts in Leicestershire?’ She said, ‘A village in the Vale of Belvoir.’ I said, ‘No way. I used to live in a village in the Vale of Belvoir!’ Which again was perfectly true. I did. Well I’d started, so I had to finish. ‘Which village?’ I asked. ‘Harby,’ she replied. Now this was beginning to get seriously uncanny. Because I too lived in the aforementioned village of Harby when I was a kid. It was only a small village. It still is only a small village, because I drove through it relatively recently and checked. ‘Whereabouts in Harby?’ I ventured, trying not to say ‘asked’ again. ‘Just an old cottage,” she said, clearly scoping the joint for the nearest exit. I paused for dramatic purposes, before saying the following sentence. ‘What’s the name of the cottage?’ But I had a strange feeling that I already knew the answer. And I was right. ‘Pilgrim’s Cottage,’ said the woman, as I was being escorted from the premises, by security.
You guessed it. I’d lived somewhere else entirely. In fact, I’d got completely mixed up and hadn’t actually lived in Harby at all.
I’m joking. Of course I’d lived in Pilgrim’s Cottage. About 25 years before. My dad had even named it Pilgrim’s Cottage. Prior to that, it didn’t even have a name. And I wasn’t really escorted from the premises by security. I added that bit to make the anecdote slightly funnier than it would otherwise have been. But the rest of it’s absolutely true.
Oh, I almost forgot. The dream I’d had the previous night? And I swear this is absolutely true, too. I dreamt I was 8 years old, living in a small village in the Vale of Belvoir. In an old house, called Pilgrim’s Cottage.
Jonathan Meres is the author of the bestselling The World of Norm series. Before writing children’s books, Jonathan worked as a sailor, ice cream van driver and actor. Born in Nottingham, Jonathan now lives in Edinburgh.
Holiday Ha Ha Ha!
From amazing aliens and strange superheroes to fantastic forests and crazy creatures; from ghoulish ghost tours and tiresome traffic jams to super spies and terrible talent shows – you’ll be laughing all summer with these eight summer sillies!