Sarah Sands: A fortnight of sun has turned us all into Italians

Related Topics

British military chiefs are delighted with the Italians, who have been among the most willing of the coalition in Libya. It is a funny old world when we are shoulder to shoulder with the Italians and at arm's length from the Americans. But it is all part of our drift towards the Mediterranean.

It may be my imagination, but when British television reporters broadcast from Italian bases, they seem to gesticulate more – and surely the Defence Secretary, Liam Fox, has a permanent tan these days? Back in the UK, David Cameron simply refuses to pay his EU bill, with a shrug. And with bumper bank holidays, and unexpectedly, everlastingly warm days, our work ethic has been shot to pieces.

It is a mathematical puzzle that the number of unemployed seems nowhere near as high as the number of people who were lying out in London parks or wiling away afternoons at riverside restaurants last week. How does it work? Lazy Monday-to-Sunday afternoons, civilised drinking on the pavements, permanent football in the park. Even more strangely, I have seen no red-bellied men. The mysterious why-aren't-they-working population in London parks could mostly hold their own on the Sartorialist website. Is it possible that we have learnt not only to behave but also to dress like Mediterraneans?

London has always been cosmopolitan; now the royal wedding has turned it into a tourist magnet. Looking at the newspaper photographs of flags and guardsmen and Westminster Abbey, I realise that the capital has become a series of postcards. Out on the streets, even the obsession with cars is waning. It feels as if we are nearing a tipping point, where bicycles and scooters can be the norm. In London, the Boris bikes are becoming a way of life. Last week I cycled through Hyde Park, up the Mall, across Horse Guards Parade and past Downing Street and felt for the first time that the roads could belong to cyclists.

None of this is good for political campaigners. Nick Clegg is European enough to know that when the sun is out and the weekend stretches ahead, you are not going to head for the Institute for Public Policy Research. As Conservatives have always understood, it is grievance that makes you left-wing. If you are sitting out on the lawn this weekend, listening to birdsong, you are voting for the status quo. It is hard to get too worked up over AV when you are gasping at the wisteria.

The British usually manage heat as well as they do their drink. But the early arrival of summer has put almost everyone in a benign mood. On Friday, even as gridlock formed on the M40, there was no sign of road rage in the 25C heat. People wound down their windows and put their feet up on the dashboard. The young and single were eyeing each up other in their mirrors.

So in the south of England I can report that we are all southern Europeans now. Last year, we cooked roast lamb and apple crumble on Easter Sunday. This year, we are eating Moroccan lamb and a Frenchie-looking tart. Our only worry is that it has peaked too early. The cherry blossom is starting to fall and the apple blossom in full flower. There must be some cold to come.

After a sunny fortnight, we look different, we eat differently, we behave differently. It feels totally natural. Let's hope the weather breaks before we start clamouring to join the euro.

Sarah Sands is deputy editor of the 'London Evening Standard'

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A Gold Ferrari sits outside Chanel on Sloane Street  

Sunday Times Rich List: We are no longer in thrall to very rich people

Terence Blacker
David Cameron was openly emotional at the prospect of Scotland leaving the union before the referendum  

Remember when David Cameron almost cried over Scotland because he loved it so much?

Matthew Norman
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions