At first I saw this headline and thought someone was getting hysterical about global warming, but it turns out it’s another in a theme of the super rich moving things out of reach:
[T]he English summer and social calendar has, in recent years, been quietly – but decisively – globalised and commercialised. The rackety, amateurish, faded charms of high English summer have been replaced by a professionalised, slick operation, supercharged by oceans of international cash. London is the new Rome of the globalised empire, and the English summer has fallen meekly into the imperial line.
Skipping down a bit to:
For the super-rich, the world isn’t divided into countries any more; just rich and poor parts. And, like swallows, their favoured rich parts in summer are now their English boltholes in the north. England should be proud to welcome them, proud that they have chosen us over Monaco or Biarritz. And even more proud that, rather than live in a globalised bubble, they are fascinated — fixated even — with the echt English events of the summer season.
We should be pleased that these events — rather than being abandoned by the natives as outdated remnants of a bygone age — have been rejuvenated by the injection of international billions. It’s comforting, too, how uncomplainingly England has accepted all this, in our outward-looking, welcoming way. Thanks to the Empire, we’ve always been globally minded, the original multi-ethnic state.
But then, we used to be the masters. No more. The English elite isn’t really English any more. When the Sunday Times launched its rich list in 1988, just 11 of the wealthiest 100 were from abroad. In recent years, nearly half of them have been. Walk around the City — or Mayfair, natural habitat of the hedge fund — and you enter a new gilded Babel, where international bankers scoop up their billions in English, the international language. Britain now has a Wimbledon economy: we provide the charming venue, and foreigners come over to enjoy themselves on Centre Court.
Lots of interesting stuff about cash-strapped banks and horse derby’s signing up for corporate sponsors, the international banking elite dominating all this just three years after they were supposedly in meltdown, the number of homes over £2.5 owned by foreigners because their own countries are too unstable to be worth dumping lots of money into, etc.
An educational arms race has escalated among the global elite, who want their children at English schools and American universities. As our state schools plunge down the international league tables, the best English private schools cruise heavenwards into an altogether headier stratosphere. They have morphed into hi-tech luxury hotels, purpose-built to satisfy the new breed of international client. And, while the hedge-funder elite drive up school fees, house prices and the cost of a Wimbledon ticket, the Merchant Ivory vision of an English Arcadia is rigorously maintained: whether it’s strawberries and cream at Wimbledon, the top hat and tails dress code at the Derby, or the shorts, cap and blazer of the prep school uniform, frozen in the 1950s.
Most of the English, though, have long since fled this gilt-edged wonderland for cheaper climes, like Tenerife and Florida. The English summer has never been so English. It’s just a shame that the English can’t afford it any more.