British imperialism is a part of history that is best left as history. Yes, this little island conquered the world in what was a pretty impressive military feat. And it could be argued that we kickstarted a lot of the Commonwealth’s development. But, in doing so there was raping, exploitation and a destruction of culture. It’s a hotly debated topic as to whether British imperialism is something to be proud of. Some agree, others disagree. But, to those who saw their way of life destroyed, Brits aren’t all too popular.
So why is it that today we’re still doing just that? It seems that ever since Italia ’90 Brits abroad have been typified by the drunk football fan. What can only be destroyed as a backhanded positive is that the mass violence is limited to football tournaments (if you’ve ever watched Sun, Sea and A&E you’ll see a fair few fights). But the destruction of culture, the exploitation, it’s all still happening. Not quite on the scale of historical British imperialism, for sure, but spend a week in Benidorm and try to find a Spanish person that isn’t working for a cheap wage, servicing the British tourists, in British themed bars and restaurants.
Such is the British dominance of the popular Spanish tourist destination of Benidorm, we’ve set a TV comedy series there. Featuring Johnny Vegas. Nothing shouts Brit-abroad quite like Johnny Vegas. Walk along the streets of Magaluf or Kos at any time past seven in the evening and you’ll be greeted by Brits. You’ll be serenaded to ‘Will Grigg’s on fire’ and songs of how this group of lads love their local football team.
It’s not like the Brit-abroad is our best kept secret, either. Europe hates us for it and it’s something that tarnishes us all when we try to relax by the pool. You find yourself at the hotel bar, ordering your sangria, dropping in an ‘obrigado’ to be polite only for your reputation as a Brit-abroad to be ruined by the Nottingham Forest shirt-wearing Dad being mildly racist about the cleaning staff and kicking off because the bar’s serving Sagres, not Stella.
Look, Europe, we’re not all like that, okay? All we can do is apologise for our companions. In the meantime we will continue to use obrigado, gracias, grazie, merci. We’ll be polite, we won’t get too drunk and we won’t throw your towel in the pool and replace it with a Burnley towel at the poolside sunbeds.