A Turkey for Christmas

My dad wouldn’t let me become a lawyer. Strange really, for a Jewish family but after twenty or so years seeing his forlorn face coming up the drive way after another trudge through the City, I wasn’t even tempted.

A passionate and endlessly curious traveller himself, my dad had a long unrequited dream of becoming a travel agent. He sparkled at the thought of leaving his cuff-links and testy clients behind him and instead sitting down with excited travellers, leafing through glossy brochures of sun-drenched beaches, excursions to ancient monuments and breath-taking views from cliff tops.

If I took any of that of on it was subliminally because, after a private school and university education I was surprised as anyone to find myself a travel agent by the age of 22. Unfortunately, my job has rarely had the glamour I was led to imagine and has often been far more Alan Sugar than Alan Wicker.

And guess what, twenty years on I’m at the centre of what’s likely to be the biggest legal case the travel industry has ever seen. I’ve reported more or less the entire hotel industry to the O.F.T. for price-fixing.

A month ago I was sat in a conference in Brussels surrounded by Europe’s top competition lawyers, trying to get to grips with the new vertical restraints regime. There was no talk of crystal clear waters, cabanas and hammocks, just legal jargon like ‘hardcore restrictions’ and ‘resale price maintenance’. It’s certainly all foreign I suppose.

This isn’t what I’d signed up for.  I’m now stuck in an industry at war with itself. Punitive contracts, bullying, repression. There’s no fun to be had. I have daily threats of litigation. Even physical threats. This is no Copacabana.

So, whilst I have a Turkey again for Christmas, my dad retires next month. He’ll be sunning himself in Tahiti soon enough I’ll wager. No more litigation for him.  I, on the other hand, will be wading not out to sea but through a pile of defence papers, alongside grey-suited bureaucrats and red-faced power-mongers.

I need a holiday.

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