Wednesday, August 10, 2011

In which Michael possibly reveals himself to be a travel snob

A couple of days after the riots broke out in London over the weekend, Prime Minister David Cameron rushed back from his holiday in Tuscany to deal with the situation, or something.

Seirously, what is it with West London British luvvydom (something Cameron can't help but seem to want to belong to) and Tuscany and Provence. Yes, beautiful places. Yes, good food. Yes, good wine. Lots of interesting ruins and old buildings. Worth visiting once or twice. But, frankly, dull. Do they all go there together in summer every year?

Couldn't they just, sometimes, go somewhere a little more interesting. I am not expecting our ruling class to holiday in Gagauzia, but perhaps once in a while they could go as far as the other side of the Adriatic? Croatia is nice. Equally good food, although perhaps slightly iffier wine. Possibly even more beautiful scenery. Equally wonderful ruins. Not even dramatically less Italian. Cheaper. (Okay, Peter Mandelson has been hanging out with dubious Russians in Montenegro, but I am not sure if he counts).

I am perhaps going off at a tangent, but David Cameron in Tuscany has started me thinking of the movie Love Actually, written and directed by super-Luvvie Richard Curtis, back in the days before we started comparing him un-ironically to the Khmer Rouge.

In this film, a writer played by Colin Firth takes what is all considered a remarkably long time to fall in love with his Portuguese housekeeper Aurélia, played by Lúcia Moniz. After she has returned to her family, he realises that he loves her and so rushes after her to declare himself. We see him arriving at Marseille airport and rushing to the restaurant run by her family, where he manages to successfully propose to her in broken Portuguese.

With all respect though, huh? Marseille airport? He pursues a Portuguese woman back to her family in Provence? Okay, there probably are Portuguese families running restaurants in France, but Provence? Why not chase her back to Lisbon? Or Porto? Beautiful, cinematic cities both of them, either of which would look really nice in a couple of establishing shots. (In fact, I first visited Lisbon after seeing it so beautifully shot in Fred Schepisi's movie of John Le Carre's novel The Russia House in order to see if it was actually that beautiful a city). Or perhaps she went to Lagos to cook bacon and eggs for English package tourists? Or she went to Pinhão to tread grapes with her bare feet? Or at least something and somewhere that might indicate that Richard Curtis realises that Portuguese people come from Portugal, and that the world outside London and the Home Counties does consist of slightly more than just Provence and Tuscany?

(In retrospect, I now think that the movie would have have been improved by Lúcia Moniz pulling out a button, pronouncing that she was putting nenhuma pressão on Colin Firth over the pegada de carbon of his flight to Provence and then causing him to explode into pink mulsh, but I suppose that was too much to hope for).

At this point I am getting a further sense of missing John Major. He at least knew where Portugal is.

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