The world is an incredible place. Yes, I know, something of an empty platitude, but it’s necessary we start with that fact.
This planet of ours has all sort of wonderous sights, both natural and man-made. It has a hundred different types of terrain and climate, innumerable species of animal and plant and countless unique, varied and interesting cultures of strange and exotic people. It’s all out there, at your fingertips, and you haven’t got a tremendous amount of time to see it all. So you should get cracking, then?
No. Don’t even bother, it’s not worth it anymore. “Why?”, I hear you ask.
“Why would I forsake the chance to see the wonders of the world, both ancient, modern, large and small? Why would I resign myself to the humdrum sights and smells of the four colours of rolling field available on this isle of Albion? With half a dozen crumbling motte and baileys and a reconstructed maritime galley sporting a rotten plank from the original vessel to call cultural attractions?”
Well, dear reader, because there are those who have conspired to ruin tourism for all of us, and I, being the methodical sociopath that I am, have compiled this list, so you may know them, and pour upon them the righteous scorn that they truly deserve.
1) Gap Yahs
You knew it was going to be this lot first, didn’t you? It hardly seems worth mentioning them with all the jokes already in circulation. It’s like kicking a child, or maybe a one-armed, blind, dormouse. Only if the dormouse went to Harrow and really, really deserved it.
The yearly pilgrimage of these scions of the upper crust of British society has made it almost impossible to go anywhere in the new world which could feasibly be described as ‘quaint’ without being accused of some theatrical desire to ‘reinvent yourself’. Nor indeed could I, with good conscience, approach a Sherpa or Buddhist monk or some other such character without my interest in their customs and world view being misapprehended as the usual patronizing missive of “It’s so great how you can just chillax Nguyen, I just think it’s splendid how you’ve got this rustic vibe going yah, Daddy expects me to take over his position as CEO of his North Sea drilling company, but out here I’ve been really been able to find out what’s important you know”.
Only posh people can successfully make backpacking, something intrinsically designed to be a genuinely sincere attempt at understanding the people and cultures of Africa and the Orient, come across like a grand sneering. “Oh, look at the funny savages, Piers!” tour of the developing world. No wonder they end up coming back with stuff like “Cock Muncher” tattooed in Sanskrit on their lower back.
Now there’s nothing strictly wrong with a gap year persay, nor with doing it in between the end of A levels and the first year of university, it is, in fact, a perfectly logical time to do such things, although perhaps not entirely sensible. I am starting to come to the opinion that gangs of eighteen year old public school kids are perhaps not our best national ambassadors, particularly to nations still struggling to forgive us for the atrocities committed by their colonialist great-grandparents. But for the love of god go to Laos because you like pretty waterfalls, not to tell some local peasant farmer who lost half his arm to Agent Orange about how much better off he’s got it.
2) “Maga” Revelers
Or indeed anyone who uses such abbreviations to refer to one of the citadels of ill repute located on those islands the Greeks and Spaniards have converted into theme parks for British tourists. Now these Mediterranean Gomorrahs are all well and good, but their supporters don’t seem keen on just keeping to their blasted islands.
I’ve always felt there was a certain fascistic ‘my way or the highway’ attitude to the sort of people who actually think Drake qualifies as a musician, the way they seemed to run most niche genre nightclubs out of the market by virtue of being the biggest group, turning the nightlife of most of our towns and cities into nine virtually identical rooms blasting the exact same playlist at thirty five million decibels. But it’s getting worse you know. Like some insidious virus, the massed levies of Malia and Benicassim are slowly turning most of Europe into vassals of the 18-30 rave scene.
The reason why the ‘Shagaluf’ Mafia can do this is the same reason there’s no longer any jazz bars in your local high street. Because it’s a big money game, much more so than the sort of people who go on holiday to read a book quietly on a balcony or take in the local train museum. None of them are spending 60 euros a night drinking tequila out of each other’s navels.
This is slightly depressing to me because it seems to reinforce my opinion that global society is slowly moving in the direction standardized rules along the vein of “you’re only having fun if…” an Orwellian nightmare fronted by a vanguard of those people who do club promoting on Facebook. A world where thinking that “Niggas in Paris” is the single most audibly heinous piece of dog shit you have ever had the misfortune to hear more or less screws your social life down the drain. Go on back to your rocky isles, and take your foam parties and Tinie bleeding Tempah with you.
3) Small time Jingoism
There’s a wonderful tradition commonly practiced by “Brits Abroad”; that strange race of magenta skinned, potbellied creatures in football shirts you only seem to see in the Canary Islands and never actually in Britain.
The tradition involves attempting to press your nation’s superiority over foreigners and whilst doing so ironically acknowledging that all the best things she accomplished actually happened a really, really long time ago.
This is otherwise more commonly known as ‘two World Wars and one World Cup’ syndrome, and whilst quite funny in a sneery, middle class, liberal kind of way, has not exactly contributed positively to our lackluster reputation amongst our European neighbors.
If you went to Benidorm today, or somewhere equally as horrendous, you no doubt wouldn’t have to walk around longer than five minutes before catching a glimpse of some bar called “Gascoigne’s” or “Lineker’s” filled with surly red faced Brits eating ham, egg and chips, watching football, re-runs of Only Fools and Horses and no doubt saying stuff along the lines of “These bloody foreigners ey, staying over here, taking their own jobs”.
I can’t now be the only one who now feels a tad loath to admit to my nationality anywhere on the continent . There was a day when to be British gave you a certain gravitas abroad. People saw the Brits as a race of tall, dark, sophisticated strangers, immaculately well dressed and at ease wherever they went. Oh, how times have changed. Now we’re viewed almost universally as a band of crass, obnoxious, drunken louts desperately clinging to the last vestiges of our national pride. My advice, try and pass for Dutch, once you’ve said “Grolsch” enough times, the accent isn’t even that hard.