I don’t believe it! staggering brits want to venture further afield

A survey that ‘reveals’ Britons want to visit previously uncharted territory in an easyCar rental vehicle is based on the word of self-confessed liars

Who can tell what goes on in the mind of a collector? What strange blend of compulsion, desire, curiosity and obsession impels the tormented quest for new additions to the hoard? What, for instance, makes a woman buy more pairs of shoes than a centipede could wear on one outing? What makes a man with an outward appearance of normality become a slavering half-wit at the prospect of acquiring another beer mat to add to the 10,000 already archived and catalogued in his bursting home?I ask these questions in a shamefaced sort of way because this column, too, is a collector. For years, it has gathered surveys. As with most collections it began in a small way, almost by accident. Just as a phillumenist (a collector of matchbox labels) might start by noting a curious proficiency in a particular design and feel prompted to search for more, a lunatic (a collector of surveys) such as myself begins by spotting a pseudo-scientifically crafted nonsense of such exquisite inconsequence that it pleases the senses. From that moment he is hooked.

Part of the secret appeal of collecting is the gulf of mutual ignorance that lies between the originator and the collector, neither having met the other. The collector of surveys is particularly fortunate in that the creator of the survey has no idea of his or her existence, and is therefore completely uninhibited in letting loose the artistic juices.

All of the above is by way of a preamble to showing you the latest addition to my compendium. In doing so, I am aware that my enthusiasm may not be easily transmitted or shared but, owing to the character flaw that marks every hoarder, I cannot help myself. It’s a form of boasting.

As with all the specimens in my miscellany, this one is categorised and labelled. It’s surprising how many come under the letter B. The item under discussion is no exception, lying somewhere between Barmy and Barking.

It was donated, unwittingly, by the easyCar press office and is headlined “Brits: A Nation of Travel Liars”. Almost all the surveys in my collection owe their existence to a desire on the part of their begetter to gain free publicity through generating a statistic or two that might catch the jaded eye of a news editor. This falls into that category.

Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the habitual entrepreneur who has added the prefix “easy” to more ventures than I have surveys in my files, owns the easyCar vehicle rental business. It is pure conjecture on my part, but I suspect business is slack at present. I cannot say, however, whether the slackness lies in the car rental operation itself or in the press office. Either way, the result is a gem of its kind.

It begins: “Name-dropping exotic countries they’ve never visited – the little white travel lies told by British holidaymakers are being exposed. New research from easyCar.com reveals close to one in six (15%) Brits have told fibs about their travel experiences to impress someone.”

What makes this specimen so special is its charming internal contradiction: can you trust the word of self-confessed liars? EasyCar thinks so and reports: “In fact, just under half (45%) of ‘countries visited’ are actually just airport stopovers, with men found guilty in particular (11%) of embellishing their jetset lifestyles.”

Now comes what we survey specialists call the “turning paragraph”, which is the vehicle for the plug. This one’s a beauty. “However, no longer satisfied with make-believe, a staggering 87% of Brits would prefer a holiday where they can get off the beaten track, and explore the world’s lesser known beauty spots.”

These staggering Brits are entirely credible. Indeed, they are an observable phenomenon and may be seen staggering all over the Balearic Islands and parts of Greece throughout the summer months. They have much in common with the vomiting Brits, brawling Brits and copulating-in-the-back-alley Brits who fan out from British airports to all corners of the globe from May until September.

Disturbingly, the survey reveals (connoisseurs such as myself know that surveys invariably “reveal” – it is the hallmark of the genuine article) not only that the world’s lesser known beauty spots are destined to be defiled but also that many of these same staggering Brits are planning to get there behind the wheel. “More than one in ten (12%) believe a car is the most cost-effective way to travel abroad.”

Let us pray that they are lying. 

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