Staycation season is here! And backlash, even by the current standards, has been swift. Farmers in County Durham have issued a plea over recent anti-social behaviour by alleged staycationers — including criminal damage, littering and animals being run over — while on social media, there are images of countryside and beaches clogged with rubbish. As holidays hasten, many residents of the country’s more picturesque spots are presumably wondering if it’s too late to dig a moat. The people of Carbis Bay, hosts of the G7, have surely suffered enough.
Londoners, take heed. For when it comes to staycationers from the capital, it can quickly get worse than litter, or flattening a cow. You may even have witnessed it yourself: the transformation of formerly likeable people as they cross the Watford Gap into “Down from London” (DFL) monsters, whose crimes take many forms.
Take the ultimate “DFL-er”: the person who spends the week braying about “how cheap everything is!” in their temporary hometown. “£3.50 for a pint!” they shriek from the bar. “£3.50!” You avoid eye contact with your best friend/life partner/father, but now they’re tapping you on the shoulder. “£3.50!” Yes, you’ve heard — everyone’s heard. Five minutes later they’re on Zoopla, crowing about how they “could get a mansion here for pennies! £400,000!”.
What about the person who is panting about how “quaint” everything is, salivating over shopfronts (“not a single Tesco Metro!”) and the Airbnb (calm down, mate— they have fireplaces in Catford). Or their obnoxious opposite number: the city slicker constantly appalled by the lack of Uber/WiFi/4G? Such performative VIPersonhood begs the question: why are you here at all? Surely without you everything will collapse?
And yes, everyone means well(ish), they are just trying to “get away from it all”. But still I urge you, before you get in the car, get it together! The stakes are high. We may never get a better chance than this, the summer of the staycation, to rehabilitate our city’s image! Frankly, we’re not that popular outside London. And while to some extent such division is stoked by certain cynical members of a craven political class, we must also concede we haven’t always done our part.
And so, this year, do not become the person who within hours has adopted what is unmistakably a version of a local accent (subtle but definitely new, definitely something that’s happened since they checked into the boutique hotel whose menu champions local produce). Do not be the one who fetishises the wildlife (it’s just a sheep, leave it be); or who goes on a country walk in Crocs, or whose car has to be towed from the sea when the tide comes in. Just...don’t. Happy holidays!
Love Island viewers can set an example on social media
Love Island returns next week, with stars as telegenic as ever, although ITV has insisted on stricter mental health protocols this year. The show has been overshadowed by tragedies — the deaths by suicide of presenter Caroline Flack and former contestants Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis — and other stars have spoken of vicious trolling online.
This year, contestants will receive psychological support and training on how to handle social media. A campaign urges viewers to “be kind”, a call to arms that grew loud after Flack’s death. Perhaps viewers can show the rest of the internet the way: resist the kneejerk inexplicable nastiness that dehumanises its victims and makes the rest of us feel sick by association.
Will you be watching Love Island this year? Let us know in the comments below.