With the General Election looming and Allan still in recovery mode, we opt for a full week in Hoi An. It’s only 40 minutes drive from Danang, but a world away. The shining, high-rise towers of the city blur into wide, meandering roads lined with old-fashioned bungalows. Traffic thins, the ‘bicycle to car’ ratio rockets and the pace palpably slows.
Good job too because it’s still hot. And humid. Still. Our hotel, Banana Garden Villas, is friendly, spotless and a has a pool. Yes, we can stop here for a bit.
The old town is 20 minutes walk (did we mention the heat?) or five minutes cycle ride. There’s only one thing for it – Chloe is going to have to get on bike. Frankly, if it’s going to happen anywhere it’s here. Turns out, she loves it! There’s plenty of room to make up for her rusty road-sense, and locals are well-used to stupid tourists who aren’t used to the ‘just keep moving forward and someone will get out of your way’ approach to traffic management. Laugh? She nearly ploughed through a party of Japanese students…
We pop in and out town once or twice a day to visit our tailor (ha!), the brilliant B’Lan. Once again, we are amazed at the speed and quality. We would probably only have needed two or three visits except that every time we go in they ask us one very sensible question – ‘you want another?’ Two suits, a dress, a shirt, trousers, three skirts and a pair of culottes later and we might just be done. Might.
Allan even takes a side visit to Buffalo Leather, who are able to create a leather jacket for him in barely 36 hours. He’s been eyeing Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor jacket (itself modelled on U-boat captains’) for over ten years now. It was just too good an opportunity to miss.
And so, on Friday we get up before dawn to catch the UK exit polls. We stare in disbelief. Chloe has a little cry for joy. Then we bundle the Fairy of Hope back into the Holding Cell of Cynicism and Broken Dreams. Setting our jaws, we prepare for a long morning of having any remaining optimism slowly flayed from our bones.
Over the next eleven hours, the worst disappointment we have to cope with is the misreporting of Philip Davies’ demise (surely the nastiest and pettiest man in Parliament) and Amber Rudd’s abject failure to lose her seat.
OK, Labour didn’t win but, in six weeks, Jeremy Corbyn put heart, passion and principles back into politics. Young people turned out and were rewarded with proof that they have enormous collective power. May’s ‘strong and stable’ chant became just ‘stable’. Even that was quickly knocked on the head when she did a deal with climate-change and human rights deniers just to keep her position.
The extraordinary spectacle called for curry and beers all round that night. Now we settle in to watch the next six weeks unfold…