25 JULY 1985 Hotel Lava imperial, Playa Inglaterra, Las Palmas
Still here. The sky’s full of aircraft flying in from Gatwick and Heathrow, but none of them, apparently, is ours. Each morning we’ve waited in the lobby with our suitcases packed, but the airport bus never arrives. After an hour or so the desk-clerk rings through that there’s been a postponement and we trudge back to another day by the pool, drinks and water-skiing on the house.
15 AUGUST Hotel Lava Imperial
Three more weeks! Hysterical laughter in paradise… the English papers flown in here are full of it, no doubt you’ve heard that there’s going to be a government inquiry. Apparently, instead of flying people back from the Canaries the airlines have been sending their planes on to the Caribbean to pick up the American holiday traffic. So the poor British are stuck here indefinitely. There are literally hundreds of us in the same boat. The amazing thing is that one gets used to it.
5 SEPTEMBER Hotel Lava Imperial
No news yet. Time moves like a dream. Every morning a crowd of bewildered people jam the lobby, trying to find news of their flights back. On the whole, everyone’s taking it surprisingly well, showing that true British spirit. Most of them, like Richard, are management people in industry, but the firms, thank heavens, have been absolutely marvellous and cabled us all to get back when we can. Richard comments cynically that with present levels of industrial stagnation, and with the Government footing the bill, they’re a probably glad to see us here.
…Apparently the entire island is being divided into a series of huge self-contained holiday complexes -human reserves, Richard called them. He estimates that there are a million people here already, mostly English working class from the north and midlands. Some of them have apparently been here for a year, living quite happily, though their facilities are nowhere as good as ours.
12 NOVEMBER Hotel Lava Imperial
Richard calmly told me a preposterous story about the entire Canaries being developed by the governments of western Europe, in collusion with the Spanish authorities, as a kind of permanent holiday camp for their unemployables, not just the factory workers but most of the management people too. According to Richard there is a beach being built for the French on the other side of the island, and another for the Germans. An the Canaries are only one of many sites around the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. Once there, the holiday-makers will never be allowed to return home, for fear of starting revolutions.
Fragments quoted from J G BALLARD: “Having a Wonderful Time”, MYTHS OF THE NEAR FUTURE, (c) 1982