Can’t afford to go on holiday

Dear Ella and Susan

I work in a clothing boutique in London’s Notting Hill but I get really miserable every August. The whole place goes dead, because everyone has disappeared off to their villas in Italy and France. I’d love nothing better than to get out of the city in the summer. But a) I’m broke and b) my boss is one of the lucky ones who goes away, so guess who has to hold the fort… It fills me with bitterness and I mope around feeling sorry for myself when I should be gallivanting in the sun and meeting dark and interesting strangers. Can you help?

Phoebe
Dear Phoebe,

Quit your self-indulgent moping! You’ll never get anywhere if you spend your life wishing you were living someone else’s. Take an excursion of the mind – to even more exotic shores – with a copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. A Sufi mystic writing in the 12th century AD, Khayyam’s philosophy can be summarised as one extolling the virtues of living in the present, enjoying what you have to the full, and revelling in love and intoxication of all kinds. Submit to the gorgeous imagery in this sequence of poems (yes, we are stretching the definition of a novel here, but this is certainly a world in which you can immerse yourself) and let yourself swoon beneath his spell. We suggest the translation by Edward Fitzgerald, a gentleman of leisure from Suffolk who was the first to discover the poems in the West and have his mind and spirit blown out of the water by their incredible power.
Pah to the Chianti vineyards! Who needs the lavender fields of Provence? You’re going to 12th-century Persia. Take a large glass of Shiraz* and your Rubaiyat to the park, and look out for other lonely city-dwellers who might enjoy sharing the poetry with you to complete the intoxification process.
Yours etc…

* The discovery of wine in Persia predates French wine-making, and the Shiraz is named after a town in Southern Iran where this grape grows.

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A SLUG WITH VISIONS OF HUMANITYABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP ENDED, LEAVING SCARSADULT ACNEAFRAID OF FAILUREALCOHOLIC DAUGHTERALONE ON A WIDE, WIDE SEAAlways wanted to be a writerANOREXICANXIOUS ABOUT SINGLE FRIENDAT A FORK IN THE ROADAVID READER, LACKING BOOKBEREFT OF A CATBORED IN ALABAMABOTHERED AND BEWILDEREDBRAIN SHRINKING MOMMABROKENBROKEN HEARTBROKEN HEARTED - TORN BETWEEN MALE AND FEMALE BEST FRIENDSBROKEN UP WITH GIRLFRIEND; FEELING BURNT OUTCAN’T MOVE ONCANDIDA REVOLTAIRECan’t afford to go on holidayCAST ASIDECHEATEDCHRONIC PAINCOLD HANDS AND FEETCONCERNED ABOUT DAUGHTERCONFLICTED PARTNERSCRAVING FOOD CULTURECYNICAL STEPSONDAILY ABUSEDARK NIGHT OF THE SOULDEPRESSED AND UNABLE TO READDEPRESSED DURING CHRISTMAS, AND LONELY NOWDESPERATELY WANTON GIRLDIRECTIONLESSEASILY BORED WITH NOVELSEMOTIONALLY SABOTAGED BY MY MOTHEREMOTIONS IN EXTREMEEVER THE FRIEND AND NOT THE PARTNEREXTREME ANGER AND FRUSTRATIONFADING AWAYFALLEN OUT WITH MY FRIENDSFALLING IN LOVE WAY TOO FASTFAZED AND CONFLICTEDFEAR OF CONFRONTATIONFEAR OF GETTING OLDFERTILITY PROBLEMSFOMO (FEAR OF MISSING OUT)FORGING A BRIGHT NEW FUTUREFRIEND WHO HAS LOST A CHILD LATE IN PREGNANCYFRIENDS DAUGHTER LOST TO SUICIDEFrightened of lifeGAPING HOLEGetting over a break-upGIRL OF UNCERTAINTY, BOUND BY RULESGIRL WHO DOESN’T FIT INGRIPPED BY LOSSGUILTY FRIENDHOPELESSNESSHOUSE AND LIBRARY DESTROYED BY FIREI love music more than booksI no longer commute – and therefore I no longer readI PEEK AT THE END OF NOVELS BECAUSE I WORRY THE CHARACTER MIGHT NOT MAKE ITI wish I were famousIN MOURNING OVER LITERARY DEATHSINABILITY TO SIT STILL AND ANXIETYINCONSISTENT AND NON-STUDIOUS- BUT AMBITIOUS NONETHELESSINDECISIVEINSECUREINTERESTED IN EVERYTHING BUT ACHIEVING NOTHINGINVISIBLE WOMANITALIAN NOVEL CURESJILTED AND UNSUREJOB IN LIBRARY UNDER THREATKICKED IN THE HEADLEADENLIVING ON THE MARGINSLONE RANGERLONELY AND DEJECTEDLONELY IN LOVELONELY IN MONOTONOUS JOB, LOSING SANITYLOOKING FOR A SENSE OF PURPOSELOOKING FORWARDSLOSS OF A SISTERLOSTLOW WATTAGELOW-ENERGY PESSIMISMMAD SCIENTISTMARRIED TO A MAN, ATTRACTED TO WOMENMISSED THE BOATMISSING MY MOTHER-IN-LAWMUM GOING BACK TO WORKNEED TO LET GONEW CITY, NEW LIFE -BOOKS FOR 12 YEAR OLD BOY?NEW FRIENDSHIP WITH HOLOCAUST SURVIVORNIGHTMARISH COLLEAGUENOMADIC FLANEURPOST NATAL DEPRESSIONPREGNANT AND ALONE