'Britain is acquiring a Mediterranean climate just as sunshine is going out of fashion'
Britain is getting hotter; the ozone layer is disappearing; the ice-caps are melting; climate change is supposedly happening faster now than at any time in the last two million years. Are these changes having any effect on the way we take our holidays?

According to research conducted by UK travel insurers Home & Overseas, more than half of all British tourists still get sunburnt while on holiday. Nearly a fifth admitted to "usually" getting burnt, and one in 10 of victims ended up visiting a doctor. Bronze and beautiful? It turns out that the Brits are still the pink ones applying cold cream on the beach.

British men are the worst of the lot , disdaining precautions such as high-factor sun cream, striding out into the midday sun without a hat and manfully enduring the subsequent pain without soothing creams.

But for how much longer? Given the news that London now officially has a climate dryer than Rome, perhaps some kind of a change can be anticipated.

The trouble is that change is pushing in two directions at once. As the fog that has hovered over northwest Europe for the past 10,000 years slips south, to be replaced by Mediterranean sunshine, unwise sun-lovers may be tempted to abandon the Costas for St Andrews and Scarborough. Palm trees will take root and beachwear may yet be seen in the streets of Lerwick.

On the other hand, sensible people who fear the hole in the ozone layer will be heading in the opposite direction. Sitting on a beach in Shetland - virtually right underneath the ozone hole - will be tantamount to suicide, while Rome and Madrid, shrouded in mist and fog, will come to be seen as cancer-free havens.

Northern Europe seems to be exchanging one evil for another. In the old days, the only threat to a fine spring day in April - with the birds singing and the smell of fresh mown grass in the breeze - was an arriving cold front. Now, however, that same sunny day suddenly acquires a sinister edge. Is this a radioactive glitter in the dew? Isn't the sky a funny colour?

Basically, Britain is acquiring a Mediterranean climate, just as sunshine is going out of fashion, and as a member of the sun-worshipping generation I'm feeling pretty bitter about it.

No doubt our attitudes to the sun will change. Traditionally, it has been the Arabs and other desert-dwellers who knew what to do, wrapping themselves up from head to toe to avoid the sunshine - rather than stripping off to expose themselves to it.

No doubt the rest of the world's population will gradually follow suit. No more will we complain about rainy, washed out bank holiday weekends; instead we'll be grumbling about the infernal heat and dust, and be profoundly envious of those people coming back from the grey Mediterranean with a pallor.

Victorian attitudes to the complexion will return, with the beautiful people of the western world going to absurd lengths to keep out of the sun. Mini-skirts, shorts and sleeveless tops will be a distant memory; hats, gloves and parasols will be de rigeuer.

Health farms will have specially cool, clammy, darkened rooms in which we will sit to eliminate our tans. Art will also reflect this - Mediterranean scenes will feature grey buildings on black backgrounds, but we will still love them. Perhaps tastes in food and drink will change as well. Sun-dried tomatoes and red wine will become suspect and earthy fodder such as potatoes and turnips (protected from the sun by topsoil) will acquire new kudos.

As for the ideal tourist resort - this will combine cloudy skies with latitudes far from the arctic regions. San Francisco, with its endless sea fog, springs to mind as a candidate for one of the most desirable climates of the 21st century (as if California wasn't healthy enough already). Hong Kong in early spring - when the island is covered in dense fog for up to two months - will also be packed.

Britain on the other hand - even a climatically mutated, sunny Britain - will still be a byword for awful weather. This is one aspect of the tourist industry that will never change.

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