My Holidays


BRIAN DOWLING, Tv presenter and 'Big Brother' winner talks about his holidays

What's your earliest holiday memory?Because there were seven of us growing up we never went away on holiday, so my first holiday memory was when I left school. I went to Santa Ponsa, in Majorca, and loved it so much I ended up becoming a holiday rep. I spent the whole season there. It was in 1996. I was 18 or 19. It was the sense of being free. I had the whole gay thing in my mind: am I gay? Am I not gay? I came from a tiny, tiny village. I always wanted to spread my wings and get out.

What was your worst holiday?When I went to Turkey with my friends when we worked at Ryanair. There were about 10 of us. I ended up getting severe gastroenteritis. I got sick on the flight home 15 times, and when I landed back in London an ambulance was called to meet the aircraft.

Your best holiday?Probably New York. Everybody is still quite friendly, and it's the only place, next to London, where I felt quite relaxed. You can walk to and from everywhere. Times Square is fabulous. We stayed in a beautiful hotel. People drink cocktails. It's like you're in one of those shows on American television. I felt I was in Sex and the Citybut also Will & Grace.

If budget or work were not a restriction, what would your dream holiday be?My one dream has always been to travel. I wish I could just travel around the world for a year. I might work in a pub, just do a normal job. I'd stay in hotels or rent an apartment. One reason I became an air steward is because I've always wanted to travel.

If you had your pick, who would you bring on holiday with you?I'd be quite greedy. Obviously, if I was in love I'd want to bring the person I was in love with, but I'd always want to bring a best friend as well. I think you have to balance your holidays.

Your favourite place in Ireland?It would probably be home, in Rathangan, Co Kildare. We've got one church, we've got one or two big supermarkets, and the rest is pubs. There's a lovely river. It's gorgeous when it's snowy and frosty. It's got the country feel to it. I quite like that it's just so normal. It's where I've grown up. It's what I've  always known. I like the familiarity of knowing people. People will always say hello to you.

What holiday reading would you recommend?I'll be honest with you: I don't read books. I had Jordan's autobiography. I looked at the pictures. My friend read it twice. But I am going to get Alan Carr's new autobiography. It's supposed to be very, very good.

Where to next?I'm going to go back to New York.

In conversation with Catherine Foley

Brian Dowling appears in Peter Pan, at the Tivoli Theatre in Dublin, from December 11th