You can’t es­cape life, Wat­son

Trav­el­ling puts a dif­fer­ent spin on one’s real life, says Bri­tish co­me­dian

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - TRAVEL 2013 - LAURA HOLT

MARK Wat­son is a Bri­tish co­me­dian. He has writ­ten a few nov­els – Bul­let Points, A Light-Hearted Look At Mur­der, and Eleven – in­clud­ing Crap at the En­vi­ron­ment fol­low­ing his own ef­forts to halve his car­bon foot­print over the course of a year. First hol­i­day mem­ory? Dad brush­ing my teeth and telling me we were about to move to Canada for a year, so I should prob­a­bly pack a bag. It was more of a job ex­change than a hol­i­day, to be fair. My dad’s a teacher and got a post at a school in ru­ral Al­berta. Best hol­i­day? My wife and I went to Italy with all my sib­lings and par­ents in 2009, for a tra­di­tional Euro­camp trip.

It was some years since we’d at­tempted a proper fam­ily hol­i­day and it could have been dis­as­trous, but it was delightful.

We stayed near Venice on what I’d re­gard as the ideal camp­site: one with­out much ac­tual camp­ing, where you’re in a mo­bile home.

What have you learnt on your trav­els?

That you can be happy, or mis­er­able, in ex­actly the same way wher- ever you are. Trav­el­ling is not an es­cape from your real life, just a way of putting a dif­fer­ent spin on it. Ideal trav­el­ling com­pan­ion? My whole fam­ily. Not ev­ery­one can say that, but the Watsons are a pretty tight bunch.

Beach bum, cul­ture vul­ture or adrenalin junkie?

When peo­ple say they’re not into sight­see­ing, I im­me­di­ately lose re­spect for them. It means they’re more in­ter­ested in them­selves than in the world around them. The “adrenalin junkie” label doesn’t ap­ply. I have a pretty stress­ful job, so I don’t need to con­trive adrenalin-heavy sit­u­a­tions. Great­est travel lux­ury? Fly­ing busi­ness class. I’ve done this a few times when other peo­ple have been pay­ing. I’m quite fond of fly­ing at the best of times, but busi­ness el­e­vates it to a dif­fer­ent level. Where has se­duced you? All hot places. There’s noth­ing quite as se­duc­tive as a warm evening with ci­cadas chirp­ing and peo­ple eat­ing out­side. Be­ing a skinny, cold-blooded crea­ture, I’m a huge fan of warm cli­mates. I’d have made a good Ital­ian, ex­cept I hate Parme­san. Bet­ter to travel or ar­rive? De­spite my love of fly­ing, it’s quite ob­vi­ously bet­ter to ar­rive. If you en­joy the trav­el­ling more, then you’ve cho­sen your des­ti­na­tion very badly. Worst travel ex­pe­ri­ence? When I was 10, we went on a trip to Aberys­t­wyth, Wales.

It rained all day, the steam train we’d come for wasn’t run­ning and I said the day was crap and got into trou­ble. Then my par­ents for­got the keys to the hol­i­day cot­tage and we had to break in. Best ho­tel? I’ve got fond mem­o­ries of L’Ho­tel in Paris. It’s where Os­car Wilde died, but they can’t re­ally be blamed for that. It’s chic in that Parisian way that nor­mally in­tim­i­dates a scruffy per­son like me. Worst ho­tel? When we were pen­ni­less stu­dents, my wife (then girl­friend) and I were in Lon­don for the night and found a ho­tel in our bud­get. The tem­per­a­ture was about 42 de­grees, the sheets were dirty and the “mini­bar” was a fridge with just one Twix in it. Best meal abroad? Car­ni­vore, out­side Nairobi. My wife and I were on our hon­ey­moon. It was an ex­treme-sports ver­sion of the all-you-can-eat con­cept, where you had a lit­tle flag on your ta­ble and they brought you food un­til you hoisted it in sur­ren­der. We thought it was a joke un­til we saw it in ac­tion. Favourite city? Melbourne. It has ev­ery­thing, with­out mak­ing a fuss about it. It nor­mally comes near the top of “most liv­able cities” polls, and rightly so. I’d live there my­self, ex­cept my fam­ily would ob­ject to mak­ing 10 000-mile trips to see me. Where next? My hit list: (1) Egypt; (2) Brazil; (3) Ja­pan. – The In­de­pen­dent

FAVOURITE: Wat­son says he would live in Melbourne if he could.

JOKER: Mark Wat­son

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