Ever since the East India Company first arrived in India in 1600 the Brits have been travelling the globe, visiting new countries and annoying the locals.
Britain practically invented the foreign holiday, and with the arrival of steam ships and trains in the middle of the 19th Century more and more Brits became visible across Europe as wealthy middle class families took to tourism in ever greater numbers.
But today in 2008 recognizing a British person on holiday usually depends where in the world you are at the time.
Cheap air-travel from the UK means that you don’t have to be rich to holiday in the Mediterranean anymore. But different types of people still go to their own preferred destinations, so the Brits you see on holiday in Benidorm, Spain are usually very different from the ones in Tuscany, Italy.
The European Brit is divided into 2 groups, the ‘have villas’ and the ‘have no villas’. Like the class obsessed people that we are, you will find that the Brits like to divide across Europe along class lines.
The Great British Middle Classes
This group likes to holiday in the South of France and Tuscany. They sit around in their villas, by the swimming pool, in matching white cotton shirts and beige straw hats, drinking locally produces wine, eating local olives and chatting to their friends about rugby, cricket and the price of school fees back in the UK.
You will recognize them by the enormous pile of paperback novels that they drag around with them and their 2.5 children called Jack, Lilly and Oscar. For some unknown reason they are incapable of calling their children by other names.
You will occasionally find the braver members of this group venturing out of the Tuscan/San Tropez ghetto and heading to Greece and Spain, where they risk scandal back in the UK by renting a villa in, what is to many remains, enemy territory.
The reason it is considered enemy territory is because of the presence in these places of what the British middle class fear above all else while they are abroad, running into their arch nemesis:
The Great British Working Classes
The British working classes holiday in Spain and Greece because of the large numbers of mini-kingdom sized hotels offering them cheap package deals. You recognize them by their loudly labelled designer clothes and expensive sunglasses, or because they are all wearing matching tracksuits with their names written across the back – usually Wazza, Begsy or Chantel.
They are not interested in local wines and olive oils, and if they have brought a book it’ll have been written by David or Victoria Beckham. Their main interest on holiday is to consume alcohol and to sing karaoke, they are to be found in any bar offering English food and English beer.
The Great British Backpacker
You will find this classic British figure trekking around South America and South East Asia, recognisable by their fair-trade t-shirts.
They are found in the same places each year, hanging out on beaches and pretending to be immersed in local culture, but all the time sticking to the well-worn paths made by British travellers back as early as the 1960s.
These people will spend a few years living in youth hostels by the world’s best beaches before returning to the UK. Here they realise that all their friends have got married, bought houses and settled into their careers. They will be left with one career choice and one only: they become teachers.
The Landed Gentry
Recognisable by their yachts and polo horses, you will find these people holidaying around the Caribbean islands and off the coast of Italy.
There is very little to say about them because they are such a rare species, but they can be recognised by the fact that, after years of inbreeding, they all look the same.
Polo shirts and jodhpurs, along with big pearl necklaces for the ladies, are what distinguish them from their servants, but the chances are unless you are working in one of the luxury hotels frequented by these people you are never going to see one. They don’t mix well.
|Last Updated ( Wednesday, 01 April 2009 )|