I have started to notice the rather suspicious way that people based here in the United Kingdom converse with you when they first know that you live your life mainly in Mallorca.
At one time, not that long ago, a certain interested envy might enter an acquaintances tone of voice, there would be the inevitable questions about the weather and what you did to make a living, but generally there was a passive, but warm interest in your chosen lifestyle.
However, just recently, I’ve noticed that this reaction has coarsened to a sort of weary cynicism, not quite rudeness, but a general scepticism regarding your perceived ex-pat lifestyle.
In fact, on more than one occasion during this trip of ours I have found myself avoiding the subject altogether, as with some people it can be misconstrued as showing-off, whilst on the other hand on one occasion, I almost felt the need to defend myself against an unspoken sort of low grade disapproval.
I wonder why this can be? Have we British become more insular than we once were regarding who does and who doesn’t live in this country?
In fact I do wonder if there has been a coarsening, of not only the language of belonging - but in the concept of people moving from country to country, to live, work and thrive in a different part of the world from where they originally come from.
Mind you, I’d like to think that some of us when visiting the UK might like to hold back a little in the facile points scoring that can so irritate our fellow countrymen and women.
On a previous visit to this part of England a few years ago, I had the dubious pleasure of having to listen in a restaurant to a very loud and obnoxious bloke and his partner brag about their “…stunning lifestyle” in south west France and how “England looks so shabby and dull in comparison.”
I have to say that the word ‘embarrassed’ could not go near how I felt by the studied stupidity and ill manners being displayed by ‘ex-pat man’ - but I will never forget the looks on the faces of the local diners who had been listening with ill disguised dismay.
Personally, it seems to me nowadays that - ‘The least said the soonest mended’ when it comes to passing comment on another countries perceived strengths and weaknesses, as any thoughts in this direction are bound to be misinterpreted at best, and misrepresented at worst.
Why is it I wonder, that some of us have to denigrate - something, someone or somewhere, so as to somehow prove that what we have is much, much, better? Bragging about the weather in Mallorca, as Britain sits under a grey blanket of cloud for the whole of August is more than a little pointless I would have thought.
The same, surely - as constantly banging on about the fact that Spain in general has an addiction to complex and mostly pointless paperwork. You might want to fill in your own choices of minor, yet massively irritating things that happen all the time in both the countries that we love and sometimes live in! I think that on occasions that we can all fall into the following trap when visiting either ‘here or there.’
In fact there is a certain type of schizophrenia common with us Brits living abroad that makes us all pine for one place - when living in, or visiting the other. In short, when we are in Blighty we want to be back in Mallorca - and when we are in Mallorca the thought of going back to the UK for a while is always in your thoughts.
Unsurprisingly, this usually happens when it is freezing in one place and too damn hot in the other! In short, we want the best of best worlds and never seem to tire of telling people about it. Spoilt, or what?
It's "that" time of the year!
A s someone once remarked, we are entering a period of “…mellow fruitfulness”. Yes, okay then, this is a rather outré description of the onset of autumn, or - as our American friends would describe it - the Fall. I know it sounds just a little bit silly, but - autumn is my favourite time of the year.
When in Mallorca I am always told that for many Mallorcans, October is their favourite month, with its warm (not hot) days and a ‘daylight’ akin to a kind of warm glow that is a precursor to the much shorter days of November and beyond.
Funnily enough, I can’t remember the last time I was actually staying in the United Kingdom this deep into September and I must say, that as yet, I haven’t been disappointed. I suppose it is a nailed-on fact of life that September here will always have better weather than August - a doubtful truism that is now part of a nations psyche.
Already, the light has subtly changed as the days get shorter and the yellows, browns, and dusky reds are beginning to appear in the foliage of trees at this time before their leaves begin to fall in earnest.
This mildly surprising interest of mine which may surprise some of you, first came to the fore in the mid 1990’s when I worked for number of months in the USA. At the end of my secondment in Baltimore Maryland, I holidayed in New Hampshire during the Fall of that year and have never forgotten the stunning beauty that was all around me.
Saving that - it has to be said that Mallorca isn’t so bad either at this time of year, is it?