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  Opinion   Columnists  23 Jul 2023  Kishwar Desai | Staycations in UK are suddenly the rage

Kishwar Desai | Staycations in UK are suddenly the rage

Kishwar Desai, is the chair of the Arts and Cultural Heritage Trust, which is setting up the Partition Museum at Town Hall, Amritsar.
Published : Jul 24, 2023, 12:19 am IST
Updated : Jul 24, 2023, 12:19 am IST

But the big story for everyone is Barbie versus Oppenheimer!

Margot Robbie in the new Barbie movie (Twitter)
 Margot Robbie in the new Barbie movie (Twitter)

Who could have imagined that a staycation in London could be the best in the world this summer? Well, the reality is that while the heat is soaring in Europe and in parts of the US, the UK has been blissfully cool. Not only that, it has been raining so that we have enjoyed temperatures of 14 degrees which made us feel as though global warming was a foreign concept. Very possibly, the inability to rush off to Europe has, for the first time, seems like a huge advantage. Sometimes not having it all is a blessing in disguise. Londoners, not to say the English, used to holiday in the Continent (they would EasyJet it, or drive across Dover) at the first sign of the summer. But Brexit had made hopping across difficult as we needed visas. Now the loss due to Brexit has been turned into a profit. As this has also meant more money in the pocket for millions of British vacationers to spend and the government to receive. Staying at home is cheaper and better than going abroad and why not spend that extra cash in the UK?

But the big story for everyone is Barbie versus Oppenheimer! As if that could ever be a battle! And, therefore, we had to see at least one of the two films this weekend: Thus we chose Barbie — because everyone knows what Oppenheimer is about. And yes, contrary to our expectations, Barbie turned out to be mostly predictable, somewhat feminist-pretentious and largely confused. After all, what could one expect from a film which is supported by the makers of Barbie, Mattel? They would naturally not critique a product they are still selling, though the director, Great Gerwig, has tried hard to give it a feminist gloss.  

But this being London, women and young girls turned up dressed as “Barbie” to see the show — which was in many ways contrary to the faux feminist messaging in the film. Barbie seemed to suggest that women “dolls” could bring in a revolution through seduction — incapacitate the guys with too much devotion, and then take over the world and get rid of “patriarchy”. But hang on, wasn’t “patriarchy” the reason “Barbie” with her tippy-toe feet and hour glass figure was invented?

Oppenheimer, anyone?

The “confusion” in the fortunes of Rishi Sunak is very different — but it is becoming a potboiler. Will our boy make it to the other side or not? The longer he lasts in office, the more he is supposed to be responsible for the survival of his party, not to say the country. He is learning on the job rapidly, however. His party was facing three by-elections with MPs having resigned and the prospect was of a complete wipeout. Rishi wisely made no prediction and let everyone forecast doom. But the results, though bad, were not as gloomy as people predicted. His party lost two and won the third one, Uxbridge and South Ruislip. However, just by around 500 votes. Saved by a whisker and some of the London mayor’s anti-pollution policies not quite liked by the public. But also by the fact that this was Boris’ old constituency, and people love the thought they had once elected a Prime Minister. So Rishi has something to thank his archrival for!

But we have more serious things to worry about than politics. The Ashes are in balance. Having lost two Tests and won the third one, the fourth Test which is now on, is concentrating our minds. It is in balance but with the English team in front. We have to win this to make it “two all” and reserve the fifth and final one a real cliffhanger. With still a day to go, one can only hope it does not rain and the match is not drawn. So a sense of pleasant anxiety is our lot.

The real surprise of this season has been the tremendous interest in women’s football. All these years, it has been the men who have monopolised football and piled up huge fortunes for football managers and players. Now there is not only much greater interest in the local league with famous clubs like Chelsea and Arsenal making headlines with their teams but a women’s World Cup is around the corner. Newspapers cover their stories and women are livening up the stadiums watching their teams with avid interest.

The Lionesses are in Brisbane for the World Cup. They have been playing this game for years but now they are being taken seriously enough to raise controversy about pay and bonuses. Men are watching with care but who can tell how far the women will go? If they win the cup in Brisbane, it will be a real reversal of fortunes. Sarina Wiegman, the England manager, will become the toast of the town. About time, too.

Tags: barbie, rishi sunak british pm, kishwar desai