Winter is the New Summer

The First Lady will surely approve!

The world has been turned upside down by the financial crisis, and with global warming, so have the seasons. So my New Year’s resolution as 2010 tips into 2011, is to complete this topsy-turvy world – and let’s make winter the new summer! While I accept that there may be just the slightest hint of Alice in Wonderland about my proposal, you’ve got the admit that it’s still a pretty radical thought, and not one that’s been given an adequate airing in the media or at international decision-making level.

All that’s about to change though. While I haven’t been in a position to tell you about it in the intervening months – for security reasons – I did discuss my proposition in detail with FLOTUS during her visit to Malaga in August, and it now has the all-important White House seal of approval. You heard it here first …

Not alone was FLOTUS – the First Lady of the United States, of course – enthusiastic, she was delighted. It turned out that for some time Michelle has been on the lookout for a worthwhile cause which she can espouse publicly and make the hallmark of her first term alongside POTUS, or Barack to his friends.

Bringing the two of us together, of course, was a logistical nightmare. First there was the technical matter of cross-referencing our packed diaries and identifying a mutually acceptable window. Our PAs toiled night and day to achieve it – and to their eternal credit arrived at the shared conclusion that August 8 was most auspicious.

Then there was the consideration of making sure our little chat was away from the prying eyes of the paparazzi – never an easy matter at the best of times. Should I nip across by helicopter to Villa Padierna for a glass of unbranded mineral water with the First Lady, her 60-strong entourage, 300 police officers and 70 Secret Service agents? Surely it would be too crowded? We wouldn’t be able to hear ourselves think. And worse, we might never even get a drink!

The other, more attractive, option was to get together with Michelle in the private dining room of Restaurante Buenaventura – which was already on her itinerary – and discuss our plans while we nibbled whatever seafood delicacies had been frolicking that morning in the depths of the Med. That was my own personal preference. It seemed so much more intimate.

Then, of course – wouldn’t you know it – the Spanish Royals ruined everything! Well, that’s not quite fair. In fact, there was good news – and there was bad news … As you know, I always prefer to cut to the chase, so the bad news first: King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia decided that August 8 was auspicious for them too – and so that was the day they too should meet Michelle.

And the good news? The good news is that as a result of the royal decision, I didn’t have far to go for my chat with FLOTUS. The Royals decided that their meeting should taken place at the summer palace of Miravent, here on Mallorca – and so Michelle sent me an encrypted text telling me not to come to the mainland; she would come to the island instead.

So on August 8, there were two high-level meetings on Mallorca – not one. After a photo-op on the terraces of Miravent with King Juan Carlos, Queen Sofia and their elegant daughter, Crown Princess Letizia, Michelle and her youngest daughter, Sasha, side-stepped their bodyguards and met me for an informal bite at what was previously know as Fosh Food (now called Tasca de Blanquerna)… not many people know that.

Dressed casually, wearing large sunglasses at all times, we could have been any group of well-heeled foreign tourists in the corner of the restaurant. Nobody gave us a second look – except, of course, my unquestioning PA, Eva, who was on hand at all times. (We would have invited the Royals to lunch, especially Letizia, but we felt they might be spotted by the locals.)

Although there was no official communiqué, the First Lady agreed in the end that my suggestions were – as she put it – “a no-brainer”.

Winter should be the new summer, we agreed, because:
– Global warming has made summers unsustainably hot – with more people dying every year as a result of rising temperatures
– The mass movement of large numbers of tourists to resorts which are ill-equipped to deal with them, gives rise to a range of environmental concerns – particularly water shortages
– The carbon footprint left by the millions of travellers taking flights to and from the world’s airports (not to mention travelling by car, etc. to get to the airports) is a price not worth paying for a week or two in the sun
– Although nobody seems to take much notice, everyone now knows that prolonged exposure to sunshine causes cancer – and the incidence is rising

It will be a long haul, but what we need is a culture-change – and culture-change is the job of visionaries like myself and FLOTUS.

In a decade from now, the vast majority of people will work right through the summer months, and when they’re not working, will sit quietly in the shade and read from their iPads. And in those quiet moments, they’ll all look forward to … winter!

That’s when we’ll pack our bags and head – in a measured fashion spread over several months, not all at once – for the ski slopes, the eternal cities, and the sunspots like Mallorca – which will be more attractive and sustainable than ever.

It will be a gradual change, led by right-thinking people, but eventually the idea of the entire world heading off on summer holidays will seem … quaint, unlikely, almost comical. Winter long ago replaced summer as holiday time, with Christmas and the New Year and chestnuts roasting on an open fire … Season’s Greetings!

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