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January 2020

Issue: January 2020

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Holiday snaps

1 January 2020

Dom Joly takes a look back at his misadventures

I’m doing a massive tour of the UK starting this February. It’s called Dom Joly’s Holiday Snaps, and it’s all really just a fit of pique. I do a lot of travelling, and my wife gets more than a little annoyed at my good fortune. This often comes to a head when, returning from a trip with my camera full of exciting and amusing photographs, I make the mistake of enquiring as to whether she might like to have a look at them. The answer is always a strong “no”, and delivered with increasing amounts of venom than the time before.

“Why the hell should I look at your holiday snaps?”

“They’re not holiday snaps, they are visual documentation of my recent travels for work.” I reply, quietly locking the knife drawer.

“Work? It’s not work, you’re on holiday… while I’m looking after YOUR kids…”

“OUR children, dear… are you sure you don’t want a quick peek?”

Her retort: “Why would anybody want to see your terrible holiday snaps?” typically serves as the finale of that conversation.

Well, I like a challenge and so I’ve rolled out my 52-night tour doing just that. I’ve tried to find my best holiday snaps to prove my wife wrong. I’ve got me skiing down a live volcano in Nicaragua. I assumed there would be snow on it. I was wrong; it was just razor-sharp volcanic rock that I’m still picking out of my skin ten years on. I’ve got me making friends with the North Korean army, a photo that always ensures that I get very special treatment at US immigration. Then there’s the one of me looking very nervous in deepest, darkest Congo as I realise that I am truly out of my comfort zone.

The most affecting, to me, is my photograph of a man in Cambodia whom I later learned was the official photographer in the infamous Tuol Sleng genocide camp. Face to face with a genuine war criminal, living his life as though nothing had happened. Such an unremarkable monster, he embodied the true “banality of evil”. I’ve even got my favourite weird signs that I’ve seen in loos. For the record, Ukraine wins this one. I was there visiting the front line in their border war with Russia and stopped at a petrol station for what my wife calls a “comfort break.” As far as I could see, the sign was imploring people not to glue themselves to the toilet seat but maybe I’ve misunderstood?

People like my wife just don’t understand the lengths that I will go to get a great photo. I once spotted a family of nine plus a dog on a small moped in Hanoi. For such an overburdened vehicle, they moved fast and it took me twenty minutes to catch up and get the shot I wanted. I do all this and then my wife selfishly refuses to even take a look? Well, I’ll show her… actually, I won’t, but I will show anybody else who fancies it.