Going on holiday always makes me feel uneasy. There is always so much to do before I set off. Passports to check, tickets to buy, cases to pack. And even when the journey is behind us and we arrive at the hotel, I still feel uneasy.
Did I turn the gas off properly? Did I lock the door securely? My wife tells me not to be silly, and after a while I manage to put these worries out of my mind. But then I think of new ones. Is the water safe to drink? Is the beach safe for bathing? Well, one year, when we were holidaying in France, I began to worry about what would happen if the hotel in which we were staying caught fire. I read the fire regulations carefully and found the assembly points that were to be used in case of emergency. I impressed upon my wife the need to be prepared and the necessity of keeping a cool head, for I felt that disaster could strike at any time.
Each night, I set out my clothes in such a way that I could dress quickly. In my jacket, I put our two passports, air tickets and travellers chewques. Each night, my wife watched my preparations and made remarks which she considered witty but which I did not find the least amusing. And much to my annoyance, she refused to take any precautions of her own.
Our holiday progressed pleasantly enough until the night fire actually broke out. We were awakened by the alarm bell. There was a strong smell of smoke in the air. I leapt out of bed and wasted valuable seconds helping my wife to find her clothes. I then dressed quickly, even managing to remember my sun hat. Together we made for the assembly point and, in good order, were led to safety. And once outside, we stood hand in hand watching the firemen as they worked to put out the fire.
'And now', I said, 'and now you see the advantage of being prepared and keeping a cool head. I even remembered my sun hat.'
'Oh, you're absolutely right,' she said. 'But I do think you might have put on your trousers.'