Susie Rushton: Great reasons to vacation in Corfu this year

Notebook: To imply that "abroad" has no history or culture is particularly dumb

Share

Why would anybody want to go abroad this year, asks Stephen Fry in the new tourist board ad, one of the most expensive ever made. The part that got me Googling "cheap flights to Spain" is when we see Michelle Dockery pirouetting in a Queen Bess costume on the edge of The Giant's Causeway, fearsome-looking seas howling at her hemline. "You won't find rocks like these on a beach in the Med," she drawls. No, you're right, Lady Mary, southern European coastlines mostly have sand, and nice, warm water.

The weird thing about this ad is that its sales pitch seems aimed at foreigners. The main reasons given to "holiday at home" this year are the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics, television events if ever there were ones. How many (sane) Britons will seriously think the Queen's June jamboree is an excuse to "make a week of it", presumably by camping out in a dome tent on the Mall for two nights?

"You won't see the Olympic torch relay in Corfu or Crete," chirrups Rupert Grint, inadvertently flogging holidays to Corfu and Crete. For the inevitable fuss and gridlock and televisual excess surrounding both the Olympics and the Jubilee are pretty good adverts for a two-week holiday, ABBA (anywhere but Britain, actually).

Inevitably, four national treasures were wheeled out to front this £5m ad: Fry, Dockery, Julie Walters, Rupert Grint. Yet I don't so much object to the use of celebrities as the cheesy idea of Britain they all sell. Class, history, royals and flags are all ways to flog Britain to foreign tourists who don't know any better, but it's insulting to assume that people who actually live here need to be reminded of the pleasant things about this land with references to Harry Potter and Downton Abbey and "Will'n'Kate".

The other, equally jarring, message to the ad is: don't go away, because there's more history and culture here than in foreign countries. Yes, we have the Tate but, as Walters says, "there's no Tate Algarve". To imply that, therefore, "abroad" has no history or culture is particularly dumb. Portugal has both by the planeload – and better weather, too.

Why compare Liverpool with the Algarve? Why not with Lisbon? The assumption is that we idiot viewers only know the Algarve in Portugal, only visit Corfu in Greece, that culture itself is a foreign land to us. No passports, no jabs, no visas, no Euros, chorus the celebrity Brits as the jazzy soundtrack fades away, as if holidaying in this country is a hassle-free experience. The weary British holidaymaker might add: no service culture, no bargains, no blue skies, no truly new cultural experiences, no cheap local vino, and no escape from the 2012 propaganda.

Guides may be on to something

The Girl Guides are under attack, for teaching their young charges how to concoct home-made facials and do manicures. This is more sexualisation of children, say critics, and a sign that the good old Guides are dumbing down.

Remember the days of reef knots and camp fires? Well, yes, but I don't recall the Guides being particularly progressive even back then. These days, it no longer offers the distinctly pre-feminist sounding Home Maker badge, a trial of cookery skills and washing-up I managed to claim for my blue cotton sleeve age 11.

Who's to say that learning the basics of grooming wouldn't prepare a girl better for the boardroom later in life, perhaps more even than knowing how to tie a sheet bend?

s.rushton@independent.co.uk

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Buyer / Ecommerce Buyer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - CAD Software Solutions Sales

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Education Editor: This shocking abuse of teachers should be taken seriously

Richard Garner
Brand loyalty: businessmen Stuart Rose (pictured with David Cameron at the Conservative conference in 2010) was among the signatories  

So, the people who always support the Tories... are supporting the Tories? Has the world gone mad?

Mark Steel
War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?