Man, I love Jeremy Clarkson! :24::clap
God tells us that there are 10 rules in life: Sir Thomas Beecham, the conductor, maintained that there was only one – try everything except incest and folk dancing. Most people, however, reckon there are two. Never meet your heroes. And never turn your hobby into a job.
There is, however, a third rule. It’s a big one. It’s bigger than the one that says you should never meet Chuck Yeager, the US test pilot who became a hero for breaking the sound barrier, because he’ll turn out to be deeply unpleasant. It’s bigger than the one about not coveting your neighbour’s wife. It’s even bigger than not doing morris dancing.
It is known simply as Rule Three and what it says is this: do not, under any circumstances, become an expat.
You may be thinking of moving to South Africa because some communists have smashed the windows in your agreeable home. You may imagine that you should go to New Zealand because the police have found a builder with a broken bottom in your swimming pool. Or you may consider moving to a cave on the North West Frontier because you have knocked over some skyscrapers.
But don’t give in. It is always better to stay where you are and face the music. Even if the music in question is the tinkling of your broken sitting room window or the screams of other prisoners in the showers or the gristly, gooey sound of your fingernails coming out.
The fact of the matter is this: every single person who ever moves to another country – with the exception of America where you go to grow – is a failure. Seriously, no one has ever woken up and said: “I am completely happy. I have a lovely family, many friends, a great job and plenty of savings. So I shall move to Australia.”
It’s always the other way around. “My wife has left me. My children don’t want to know. The divorce cost a bundle and I don’t have any mates. So I shall move to Oz.” That’s why they call us whingeing poms. Because the poms they get do nothing else.
Of course, I have been to a great many palm-fronted island paradises and I’ve thought, as I’ve watched the sunlight dancing in my rum punch, how lovely it would be to live in a place where you just wear shorts and read books.
But I know two things. First, home is not where you live; it’s where your friends are. And second, within a week, I’d be a raging alcoholic. I’d start by trying not to drink before 12. But then it’d be 10 and before I knew it I’d be pouring gin on my cornflakes and my nose would be enormous and covered in what look like barnacles.
Then the drink-addled bitterness would set in. I’d realise that my existence was shallow and pointless and that every girl I ever met would either be made from leather or interested only in men who had 65ft cruisers in the harbour. Not noses that looked like the bottom of a battleship.
To keep myself sane, I’d have to keep reminding myself, by reminding absolutely everyone within earshot, constantly, that I couldn’t possibly live in Britain because it’s full of bloody foreigners who hadn’t bothered to learn English. Then I’d summon Manuel and, in English, order another pint of gin.
I was in Majorca last weekend, which is jammed full of British expats all of whom would begin their explanation of how they got there with the same thing: “Well, after I sold the cab . . .”
There they were, in their chips and footie bars with their desperate eyes and their booze-ruined noses, regaling everyone with their stuck-record views on life back in Blighty.
“Don’t know how you can live in Britain. Bloody weather. Bloody Muslims. Bloody Brown,” and then, after a wistful pause, “. . . you don’t have a copy of today’s Telegraph do you?”
I’ve always felt desperately sorry for expats and now, of course, life wherever they may be is even worse than ever because, all of a sudden, their hacienda is worth less than the plot of land they built it on 10 years ago, and they can’t let the holiday flat they bought to supplement their pension. Which is now worthless as well.
It’s proof really that there is no God. Because no one who’s supposed to be a force for good would keep on hitting people like that. “I’m going to make you so miserable, lonely and friendless that you break Rule Three. And then I’m going to take away your home, and your income until you are a homeless drunk in a land where you can’t speak the language and you’re vomiting gin into the gutter through your barnacle-encrusted nose at three in the morning.” You’d have to be a complete bastard to inflict that much pain on someone.
Sadly, I fear that in the coming months, as deflation takes hold, a great many people will begin to wonder if life wouldn’t be happier on the sunny side.
I urge you all to think carefully. Even if they’ve taken your land and your homes, they cannot take your friends. Or your family. And no matter how infrequently your children drop by now, you can trust me on this: if you live abroad, you’ll probably never see them again. Ever.
You will sit there in a bar, in your stupid Hawaiian shirt, pretending the waiter is a friend, reading the barcode on a two-year-old copy of The Week, trying desperately to convince yourself that you are happy. But you won’t be, because abroad is where you go on holiday. Britain is home.
And you know what? Yes it’s cold. Yes it’s run by idiots. And yes, I wasn’t bothered about Jade Goody either. But at least we don’t throw our donkeys off tower blocks and we don’t cook our food in the garden. And because it’s always 57 degrees and drizzling, we are less inclined to sit outside all day getting sloshed.