The aerial snobbery of our green elites
One of the main worries for many people in my adopted home town of Brighton and Hove is that we are a thriving weekend tourist destination. As we are so close to London and London is so unpleasant, a good part of London likes to come here on weekends.
I don’t see why this is such a problem. If you don’t like crowds, stay indoors. And then count your blessings that you live in a place so attractive to others that your town is not a ghost town, like so many other once-thriving British watering holes. That despised tourist dollar is why you have so many lovely pubs, clubs, bars, cafes and restaurants to enjoy yourself on weekdays and winter.
In my experience, very few people in Brighton complain about tourists. They appreciate that a seaside town will die if it is undesirable to those outside. Ours is a very different case from Cornwall, where second home owners are really ruining the lives of natives. Our foreigners spend, spend, spend before being transferred to the last train back to the capital.
No, the people who complain the most about people from elsewhere in Brighton are usually people who have themselves come from elsewhere in Brighton. the pandemic gave these complainers (who are mostly Remoaners) extra fuel for their bonfire of inanities because they now had a legitimate reason to object to People Not Like Us daring to breathe the same air.
They’re the kind of people who talk about their fellow citizens as if they were some kind of human subspecies, simply because they prefer beer on the beach to wine on the sidewalk cafe. “They would be more comfortable in Benidorm,” they scoff when I remark on how our city has had a great summer for tourism this year. How fragile you have to be not to want to take yourself for a mass! Aren’t we all – unless we’ve taken extreme measures to live off the grid, like a hermit or the Unabomber – masses, and all the better for it, rubbing shoulders with our diverse fellow citizens in a fully functioning democracy?
In the past, they were just diehard snobs who looked down on others for taking vacations. “Why do bad people travel? Noel Coward wondered, before heading home to Jamaica to write another zinger:
‘What constraint obliges them and who the hell tells them
To drag their cans to Zanzibar, instead of staying quietly in Omaha…
There’s not a rock between Bangkok and the beaches of Hispaniola
It doesn’t shy away from sunscreen oil and the gurgling of Coca-Cola…
What explains this mass mania to leave Pennsylvania
And clap like flocks of geese
Require dry martinis on the Greek islands?
Coward had a knack for making his arrogance amusing, but it’s mostly undeserving people who look down on their flight mates. lose at Brexit made them even more bitter. “These are the people you always see at airports having pints for breakfast,” sneered the Sunday timeLady Muck resident, knight of indiafew years ago.
Travel was a flashpoint in the war of attrition between the woke and the dude long before the pandemic, with air travel the villain of the pantomime – “He’s above you!” — of the whole climate change racket. In a beautiful magical thought, right up there with female penises or homeless beggars with white privilege, it seems the carbon footprints neutralize when the passenger has been to a decent college. Remember Extinction Rebellion Robin Boardman-Pattison decreeing that “air travel should only be used in emergencies”, before being confronted with an endless view of ski slopes and palm trees on his Instagram? Or XRs Zoe Jones, shown on social media having a drink on the beach in New Zealand and bungee jumping on the Nile. It’s not just a carbon footprint – it’s a clown shoe carbon footprint.
“But they are only kids!”, one could say to excuse them. The downside to this alibi is that the adults of the eco-nut persuasion do it too – like Emma Thompson take a 5,400+ mile flight from Los Angeles to London (one and a half ton carbon footprint) in order to get down with da XR kidz. And of course, Harry and Meghan are the most hypocritical of the bunch, bleating incessantly to save the planet, then taking private jets like others take taxis. It’s no coincidence that one of Prince Harry’s side activities is ‘worker‘ – even the title seeks to reassure punters that they no longer need to be tourists invading the planet, but rather enlightened “travelers”.
Some blind souls seem to think that if you call yourself a traveler rather than a tourist, the locals will like you more. But tourists aren’t scrounging the streets as travelers increasingly do – as evidenced by the rise of the gap year’beggars‘, which currently passes off the right to be pampered as rudeness, to the understandable disgust of many Southeast Asian citizens. Tourists are much friendlier than travellers, tidy in hotels, providing stable work for a large number of locals. They leave neighborhoods as real communities, as opposed to convenient perches for passing birds on a bender.
The rise of Airbnb, in particular, has wreaked havoc on residents of “travel” hotspots — and not just overseas. Last month the Guardian posted a story about a Welsh schoolteacher whose landlady told her: ‘I’m so sorry. My situation has changed and I have to give you six months’ notice. I can make four times as much money on Airbnb and would like you to leave, ideally by March, so I can start the new season. One person’s staycation is another person’s eviction.
My own travelogue is unusual. I didn’t leave the British Isles until I was 35 when I went to the Maldives, after which it would be a rare year when I didn’t take half a dozen holidays. (I once actually took a tanning holiday to Tenerife only to not turn pale in Barbados a fortnight later.) However, like sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, I have started to feel a few years ago that I had had enough for nine lifetimes. But again, I sit around doing something I love all day and so I don’t want to take a break from my life. Most people don’t, so they do – the kind who like a beer on the beach, and probably spent lockdown bringing things to the kind of people who despise them now. Like the Dowager Countess of Downton Abbey asking “What is a weekend?”, it’s hard for people who do what they love (or do nothing) to understand what the holidays mean for those who work essential jobs or jobs they don’t particularly enjoy just to make a living.
Looking at the queues, cancellations and price hikes that potential vacationers are now facing, I’m so glad I was free back then. Because the golden age of travel wasn’t when a few posh people flew – it was when we all did, from 1970 to 2020. When we were proud to be the masses, living in modern times, when life was full of possibilities. And when a map of the world looked like a promise – not a threat.
Julie Burhill is a dope journalist. His book, Welcome to The Woke Trials: How #identity killed progressive politicsis published by Academica Press.