The Sunday Telegraph

This guilt will last longer than my holiday


Astrange thing has happened to pleasure recently. Well, more precisely, the pleasure of those who dare to leave the country – on what I believe used to be called foreign holidays. They’ve become suffused with guilt.

A friend who went to Portugal, making it back just before it went off the green list, told me how guilty she felt every time someone said she “looks well”. Another said how bad she felt to be planning her own getaway.

In fact, she told me this when I rang her from Slovenia, where I was last week. I’d come to her with my own tale of guilt, as it happens. After a walk in the dazzling countrysid­e near where I’m staying, I smugly jumped in a deckchair in the sun, getting out my laptop and congratula­ting myself on how wonderful it was to be able to work from anywhere with decent Wi-Fi.

I briefly remembered the host telling me that there were ticks around, but figured I’d be fine. But when I went to the loo an hour later, I thought I’d have a quick look at my legs and make sure. Lo and behold, a black spot, like a fleck of dirt, but it wouldn’t budge. I tore at it and it came off: a tick. Disconcert­ed, I went to my room and scanned my body, finding two more of the rotters. I stupidly went on to google ticks and Slovenia and found out that I am in Europe’s hotspot for both Lyme disease and tick-borne encephalit­is, a nasty virus that can lead to meningitis.

After the horror that surged through me, I realised my main feeling was that if I did get sick, it would be a kind of comeuppanc­e. After all, I’d had the hubris to think I could go on holiday to Europe – and now, having dodged Covid, I was going to be taken down by something far nastier. I hope that the ticks are harmless, a shortterm disturbanc­e. My sense of having done something wrong in going away at all – however irrational – might last longer.

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