If you are visiting destinations such as Spain, Greece or Turkey, you will probably be aware of the need to apply copious quantities of sunscreen and watch out for bag-snatchers. What you will not be aware of is a phenomenon known as Smug. In 2013, a Smug Alert was declared in Spain every 1.7 days. Smug is one of the darkest threats facing Southern Europe today, and one of the toughest to tackle. It has a very peculiar feature: it only affects areas with a substantial British population.
A number of scientists have dedicated themselves to studying this curious effect. They have yet to reach a conclusion, but have noted that Smug levels fluctuate according to the number of British citizens emigrating or returning home. Similarly, social media analysts have noted that a spike in Smug levels appears when expat Brits mention the sun. Since areas where British expats dwell are most at risk, the mayors of Alicante, Benidorm and Málaga have formed a joint task force that aims to tackle the Smug threat before the coast becomes uninhabitable. Reminding glum tourists that they will soon be returning home has so far only had a limited effect.
So what can be done about the Smug problem? In recent years, France and Italy have attempted to reduce Smug by prohibiting the import of luxury goods such as tea and baked beans. France had to abandon this policy, as it was unable to stem the growth of the subsequent black market. Smug levels then rocketed to dangerous levels as Brits enjoyed the satisfaction of copious cups of tea in the sun. The unique political situation of Cyprus has led to greater success, as they dealt with the threat by openly discussing the possibility of reunification. Smug levels then dropped drastically, as British residents in Turkish-controlled areas considered the prospect of losing their property if the Greek Cypriot owners were able to return.
I must confess to making a substantial contribution to the levels of Smug in Catalunya. However, I do not feel remotely guilty about frequently mentioning on Facebook that we are once again enjoying beautiful weather and blue skies. Nor am I going to curtail boasting about the fabulous culture of Barcelona, or the fact that I speak good Spanish and understand some Catalan, while many expats struggle to learn even the basics. Oh. Is that a Smug siren I hear?