I know it’s customary to go on honeymoon straight after you get married — like, duh — but I’ve only just returned from mine, despite getting hitched in May.
The reason for the delay was financial: music journalism does not make you rich. On reflection, we should have waited even longer. We got back three weeks ago but we’re still feeling the aftershocks of what was nearly a honeymoon in hell.
Admittedly, it wasn’t quite as bad as the round-the-world jaunt undertaken by a Swedish couple last year. No, that one involved the poor newly-weds having to fight their way out of a snowstorm in Germany, then take refuge from a cyclone and floods in Australia before hotfooting it to Tokyo just as it was rocked by the biggest earthquake since records began.
You’ll be glad — or disappointed, depending on your levels of schadenfreude — to learn that my honeymoon wasn’t quite on that disastrous scale. But it wasn’t the fantasy week of marital rapture that we had envisioned.
Things didn’t exactly get off to a great start when my brand new iPhone went flying out of my hands at the airport as I wrestled with a particularly troubling new flip-top case. Hardly one of the worst things that can happen to a person, I know, but once a new mobile has a scratch or a mark of any kind on it, forget it — I can’t even look at it, let alone use it to make calls.
Then we found out the hotel was in Crete. Of course we knew it was going to be in Crete — the word “Crete” being big and bold in every piece of correspondence that we’d received from the holiday company — but what we didn’t know was, it was in the part of Crete that doesn’t comprise, as brochures on other areas of the Greek island have it, “breathtaking vistas and beautiful blue seas”.
No, instead of an exotic idyll, we got a dilapidated resort, like a Mediterranean version of Worthing or Cleethorpes, lined with cafes and “restaurants” (term used advisedly) less likely to be selling hummus and pitta than bangers and mash.
The hotel itself was fine, until we got to the bedroom and attendant facilities. There we were faced with a dangling shower and a hole where the wall attachment should have been, and the realisation that in Greece, in the second decade of the 21st century, they don’t have the requisite plumbing technology and sanitary infrastructure to allow for the flushing of toilet paper down the loo.
Really, I don’t want to “go there”, suffice to say that, being Hertfordshire’s answer to Howard Hughes, this caused me considerable dismay.
Then there were the holiday reps whose job it was to try to encourage patrons to join in with the fun. Trouble is, I don’t “do” fun, and so it was infuriating to find me and the wife being roped in, on the first night, to a version of Mr and Mrs, the old TV game show designed to show how much (or little) you know about your spouse.
Only we weren’t contestants, we were the judges, and we had to do the judging on-stage, in front of hundreds of portly Russians and Poles, the latter for some reason being the hotel’s most prolific demographic.
It was our job to hold up score cards for each of the “hilarious” games, (sample: how quickly can the woman manipulate a ping-pong ball up one of her hubby’s trouser legs and down the other). We wanted to give “zero” each time but didn’t wish to rekindle the Cold War.
I threatened to report the reps to the authorities if they tried to get me involved again, but incredibly two nights later Mrs Lester relented and agreed to take part in a “magic” show. For this she had to play the part of the glamorous assistant as the “magician” — a ponytailed wannabe Adonis from Tunisia — walked on broken glass and breathed fire.
Far be it from me to be snobby, but the place was crawling with loudmouths and undesirables from the Baltic states — I want to say “chavskis” — and the only civilised conversation we managed all week was on the last night, when we met up with the headmaster of a reputable north London school and his wife, both of whom looked about as shell-shocked by the experience as we did.
I haven’t even mentioned the resort masseuse who instead of giving muscle relief spent every waking moment on her mobile phone, outside our bedroom door, apparently discussing the most intimate details of her love life, although it could have been the dire state of the national economy she was banging on about — it was, of course, all Greek to me.
At least, unlike most married couples, I can say I’m pleased that the honeymoon period is over.