When pandemics and waning prosperity finally loosen the Northern European grip on travel, will we look back on our years in the sun and wonder why we didn’t colonise the Mediterranean more thoroughly?
The most permanent migration has been made by the middling sort. That is because, for the truly affluent, the Damp North was never so uncomfortable nor so permanent. Meanwhile, for the poor there was no option.
Croydon or the Costa?
But for the middling sort, the Med has held the promise of swapping a middling suburban home in the Damp North for a middling suburban home in the Warm South.
For the rich, the bite of a northern winter was always tamed by their comfortable country houses and their skiing holiday in the crisp sunshine of the Alps, plus at least one other trip, in the high summer, often to the Med – though far away from the middling suburban homes of the colonies of the middling sort.
The middling sort, in their turn, make sure their middling surburban homes are at a comfortable distance from the strip hotels that offer sun, sex and sangria to the poor for a week or two each summer.
That is how the Northern European has half-colonised the Med. But will we one day live to rue the fact that we never moved – lock, stock and barrel – to the sun-blessed shores of the Mediterranean, heart of civilisation and ease, when we had the chance? Will we, I wonder?
When we are eking out another waterlogged grain harvest outside hovels in the swampy ground of old Surrey and Somerset, will we wonder why Northern Europeans didn’t simply turn Italian when they had the chance, so that generations to come could have popped grapes and bottles of Prosecco under the shadows of cypress and olive trees forever…
How about you? You live in the right place, right?