Beaches. May 2016.

Dear Rowley,

As you know, I have a reputation for plain-speaking but, until now, have refused to be drawn on the proposed Brexit. Apparently, the markets don’t like it, The Queen does and the government has corralled everyone from Barak Obama to Paloma Faith to join the no chorus. The opinions of professionals in show business need not concern us – Helena Bonham Carter votes stay? Please my nerves! – but the words of world leaders and economists do.

The arguments for staying in the EU have so far been alarmist to the point of absurdity. One gets the feeling Mr Cameron would have preferred not to give us a referendum and stuck his fingers in ears singing ‘la-la’ until forced to engage. Hence we have an outgoing American President threatening a complete breakdown of the ‘Special Relationship’ (are we bovvered?) and the head of the World Bank predicting fiscal armageddon. Mind you, I can’t say Boris Johnson has covered himself in glory likening the European Parliament to Nazi Germany. Not helpful rhetoric from the blonde bomb site, wouldn’t you say?

The Brexit vote finally proves to me that the political class hold voters in contempt. The arguments for and against Brexit are blunt and inflammatory suggesting those in the Westminster bubble don’t trust our judgement. When politicians can’t even be bothered to offer informed advice that will help the population make a decision. Make no mistake, this is a monumentally important debate and the Palace of Westminster has not served us well.

It is becoming increasingly hard to deny that cronyism makes the world go round. We don’t even blink when reading headlines about Prince Andrew receiving kickbacks from Kazakstani Bond villains or Sir Philip Green raping the pension pot at BHS. Don’t expect anything better. But one would like to think that Messes Cameron and Osborne aren’t in politics just to live a Boy’s Own story regardless of the chaos they leave behind after an inept administration is consigned to history.

I last felt well looked-after  when Mrs Thatcher was in power and routinely sallied forth into Europe like a latter-day Boadicea in Aquascutum armour with her handbag poised and bellowing ‘No! No! No!’  Compare and contrast David Cameron negotiating with Europe for a better deal and receiving a chorus of ‘No! Yawn! No! Next?’ Besides, one would have thought that Europe would have proved more accommodating if the machine really wanted Britain as a team player.

As one who finds it anathema to waste a vote, I had to admit defeat on the London Mayoral elections. Zac Goldsmith proved to be as petulant as his father Sir Jimmy and basically couldn’t be fagged to campaign. Riding on a racist ticket against Sidik Khan was folly hence the latter winning the day. I longed for an independent candidate, possibly from the business sector, who would operate above party politics and know how to run London efficiently and with diplomacy. A shred of dignity would be most welcome after Boris Johnson’s clown-who-quotes-Plato act.

Thanks to the rabid bullying of the ‘no’ campaign, I am still undecided about Brexit. Part of me wants to stand at Tilbury, armoured like Queen Elizabeth I, and defy anyone who dares to threaten the borders of my realm. But I simply do not have the information to vote intelligently for Great Britain’s future wellbeing. The dearth of facts I lay firmly at the feet of everyone feeding in the Palace of Westminster trough.

In other news, I have not been on a beach for over four years. God knows when the last fortnight in the sun was booked with hope in heart and Piz Buin in suitcase. Holiday deprivation is a serious business. I have come to the conclusion that lack of direct sunlight in London has had profound consequences for my physical and mental health. I consider myself born to live in a hot climate. The sun and sea water are nature’s anti-depressants.

I adore beaches. The only physical stimulation I need on a beach is a dip in the sea, a bottle of cold beer and the occasional romp in the sand dunes if no one is looking. My favourite beach in the world is Son Bou beach on the isle of Menorca where my parents had an apartment for over twenty years. Son Bou is the longest beach on the island with azure blue sea and honey blonde sand. The nudist beach backs on to dunes that are a nature reserve of some note … some note, that is, amongst gentlemen who prefer gentlemen.

At the other end of the beach is a small cove divided by a rocky promontory. Behind it are the ruined remains of an ancient pagan temple. As a child, I played in the ruins for hours recreating stories like Cleopatra, Clash of the Titans and I Claudius. Now the temple is walled and listed as a World Heritage Site. The last time I went back to Son Bou beach was after the BBC/Royal Ascot fall out in 2011. Though we’re often told not to try and relive the past, I spent an hour on Son Bou beach and felt like a child again. The sense of wellbeing was overwhelming.

So here’s a toast to better life and more beaches in 2016. The fundamental question is this. If one is at one’s happiest on beaches then why not make visiting them the top priority in life rather than all the other tedious nonsense one gives too much attention to for none of the reward? I vote for at least two months of every year being spent on beaches. End of.