Wednesday, February 22, 2006

 

British expats- do they really regret leaving?

I´m posting this, experimentally, from Nerja on the Costa del Sol, though there is no sun shining as I write this. I always thought it was difficult to post from a foreign country but here goes anyway. I thought I´d say something about expat Brits as I´ve met a few since being here. It´s dangerous to generalise, but of course, I´m about to, and very speculatively too: expats do not really seem to be very happy. They have in this location at least, a beautiful part of the world, seldom less than sunkissed (apart from when I visit), a pretty good education system, so I´m told and a passably good health system too. So why are they so apparently dissatisfied?

I think the sort of person who ups sticks and leaves is clearly not very happy with life in the old country; yet somehow, irrationally, this unhappiness seems to persist. Some I´ve met are still railing about Harold Wilson,(´clearly a communist stooge´) or Margaret Thatcher(´mad old biddy´), so it´s not necessarily linked to party disillusion though there seem more on the right down here than the left which should make such expat diasporas happy hunting grounds for Conservatives Abroad vote snarers. Some have done well for themselves- bar owners who´ve often ploughed the ´home from home´furrow- but others are doing less well and are surviving on far less than theyearned back home.

Whatever the reasons they seem to have visceral feelings both towards Blighty and the locals in equal measure. Few had mastered the language, as far as I can gather, yet have been happy to crticise those immigrants to UK who had not tried to ´fit in´. But the dominant feeling I detected was a clearly detectable nostalgic longing for the homeland- whatever the advantages of being away, they miss the place like hell. Newspapers are eagerly siezed and passed around like samizdat tracts; news of the Royal Family is reverentially dsicussed; mid afternoon tea is a tradition recognised with colonial discipline. Don´t be so ready to envy those relatives and former neighbours who now send Christmas cards from one of the Costas- secretly they envy you much more but now cannot do anything about it.

Comments:
Interesting post - I saw a bit of a TV programme about British expats in Spain, they seemed a sad bunch in both senses of the word. They spoke no Spanish, were right-wing eurosceptics and seemed to be attempting to recreate Britain in about 1958 but with better weather!

But I know that there are many content British people living overseas, I think they tend to be the sort who assimilate into the local culture and who probably weren't malcontents to start with...
 
Tend to agree with this. I note only a few Guardians for sale here while Daily Mails are plentiful. Spot on re ´natural´year of comfort: definitely the fifties in terms of attitudes, furnishings and, indeed, fashion in some cases. But I have met some very well intrated people who are having a really good time down here, so mine are only sweeping generalisations, to be ignored whenever possible.
 
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