Janet Christie: I love you, now will you please leave me alone?

Youngest Child and I are in Barcelona for four days and the first three have been brilliant. We take selfies of us in front of Gaudi creations, eating tapas, frying on the beach, having a ball.

Janet Christie. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Janet Christie. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Then it’s the evening of day three. She sits opposite me in a restaurant where our Spanish is progressing as we eat our way through the menu, and we’re having a lovely time. Or so I thought.

“Ok. I’ve had enough of holidaying now,” she says. “I love my family, but too much time in their company gets on my nerves,” she says.

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For “my family” read me. I’m the only one here. There I was, obliviously happy, and all the time, my very presence is annoying.

“Is it the way I’m eating?” I ask her. Noisy? Slow? Embarrassing? I’m having aubergine swimming in olive oil, but it’s hardly up there on the fanfare-and-sparklers-it’s-your-birthday-and-the-whole-restaurant-is-looking-at-you-and-you-want-to-die list. A quiet bowl of aubergine.

“Was it something I said?”

“No. It’s not anything you or the boys say, or do, it’s a rule that your family get on your nerves. And in this holiday there’s just us, 24 hours a day, and you’re annoying me a bit. It’s just the way.”

What a cheek!

“Fine,” I say, in that Not Fine way and hand her the dessert menu. Sugar makes her sweet and soon she’s linking arms as we stroll backstreets admiring graffiti, dogs (her) and other outwardly happy-looking (seething with annoyance) families (me).

Next day she’s up early straightening her hair. “How are you this morning?” I enquire tentatively, remembering Eldest Child’s advice on teenagers: “Never poke an angry bear.”

“Very good. Sorry about last night,” she says. “I was tired and too hot. Now I’ve had a good sleep I like you again.”

“Oh good. Because I thought an open-topped bus tour…”

“OMG.” There’s a whoosh of blonde hair and the bathroom door slams. Aw no, I’ve done it again. n