‘Having a Wonderful Time’ by J G Ballard

J G Ballard is rarely conventional, but his more experimental work tends to be found in his short stories. One of my favourites is ‘Having a Wonderful Time’, written, as the title suggests, as a series of postcards. Diana and her husband Richard head off to Las Palmas for two weeks of sun and sand in July, only to discover that, when the time comes to return to England, their departure has been delayed, first by a day, but soon indefinitely. Diana adapts, pursuing amateur dramatics as well as a crush on Beach Counsellor Mark, but Richard claims the holiday complexes are “human reserves” and intends to form a resistance group. Written in the clipped, upbeat tone of the typical postcard (for those old enough to remember) Richard’s desperate rebellion plays out against Diana’s rehearsals.

First published in Bananas, Spring 1978 and collected in Myths of the Near Future, Jonathan Cape, 1982, and now available in The Complete Stories of J G Ballard Volume 2, Fourth Estate, 2014

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