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

Share
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

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

Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key Stage 1

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key S...

Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...

Tradewind Recruitment: History Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

If I were Prime Minister: Every privatised corner of the NHS would be taken back into public ownership

Philip Pullman
 

Errors & Omissions: Magna Carta, sexing bishops and ministerial aides

John Rentoul
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee