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aka "Hols for the Prols" Ltd.
Funboys sur la Plage
The hotel known as Funboys sur la Plage, "the last word in luxury", is the standard-bearer for the holiday enterprises operated by Funboys Tours Ltd (motto: Hols for the Prols). Its name may suggest France but it is British to the core, especially in relation to its "valued" clients. Ideally situated on the sea front at Stoneybeach (or at least near it, or sometimes the sea is just in view in the far distance) it offers an impressive range of activities for the sea and sports loving vacationer. Wet weather causes no problems - they issue their guests with waterproofs, gumboots, money for hot drink and tell them to "get out there and enjoy yourselves".
Bristow first went to Funboys in 1974. Encountering the retail premises of Hols for the Prols he seemed to think that Funboys was some sort of upmarket Club Med. Naturally Sol and Sonny (of whom more below)reinforced this error. He was disillusioned even before he arrived when, enroute in the trusty two-seater, a policeman flags him down to ask if he has seen two escapees from Funboys.
Bristow’s loyalty to Funboys is surprising in view of the problems he invariably has with irritating desk clerks, tetchy waiters and the bellboys with their hands out for tips. Although modern in many ways, it must be the last hotel in the UK to employ bellboys. Possibly they help with baggage but the main function of these young men in pot-shaped hats is to solicit tips from guests as they leave. Bristow has yet to give them a penny but each year he has to devise a cunning plan to outwit the bellboys and leave the hotel unnoticed. Amongst these schemes are:
Funboys does have some design quirks. The top floor rooms are directly overlooked by the high diving board in the swimming pool, removing the very privacy a guest might hope for, and the sea-view rooms overlook the very spot where Stoneybeach’s fisherman trawl at night (with much engine noise and shouting). As to how it can simultaneously be on the seafront and several miles from it, only the architects can tell us.
Quite why Bristow is so keen to be taken in by Sol and Sonny, the directors of would-be upmarket firm Funboys Tours Ltd, is not clear. Something in their package seems to appeal directly to Bristow’s emotions. He knows that he will be overcharged and given the worst service they can get away with but he still goes back to book his holidays year after year. Hols for the Prols indeed.
Sol and Sonny smoke big cigars and gloat to each other in private about how they are fleecing the punters. When overbooked they happily put extra beds on the snooker tables. If Bristow phones to complain to Sol (or is it Sonny) he will be put through to the complaints department - Sol (or Sonny) shouting back at the top of his voice. If he turns up in person they will usually shut up shop for the afternoon, pulling down the shades with the legend "No money refunded" clearly visible.
Sol and Sonny do not appear to have much confidence in their own products. When Bristow returns after his first year to make another booking, they celebrate with champagne. And when Bristow decides to go abroad on the strength of a recommendation S & S are, frankly, gobsmacked strip 5707 . Yet they have survived the downturn in the holiday trade and in 2002 on frankdickens.com they can be found, looking a little altered and selling holidays at Grottsville (near the nuclear power plant).
I have a great affection for Sonny who reminds me of my old boss Frank Herman, another cuddly faced, bald, cigar-chomping entrepreneur.