Brawls and balconies: Why do Brits behave so badly abroad?


PERHAPS it’s a bit unfair to lump all British nationals together.

If you’re Scottish, Welsh, Northern Irish, you’ll have experienced many a moment when a local, be they from Spain, Italy, Germany or Brazil, eyes you warily, suspecting that you might be English, before erupting in a welcoming smile when they discover your true identity.

Same goes for the Irish, who have the good fortune of being able to whip out an entirely different passport, earning themselves another free drink, while everyone enjoys a good laugh about the English and the occasional misfortune of being mistaken for one.

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Yet when it comes to death by balcony, being banged up abroad, and wreaking havoc, there is a unifying factor that brings the wild nights of Glasgow, Manchester and London to the tranquil homelands of Socrates and Banderas.

The key question is why? Only the Germans, Russians and Americans fare similarly when it comes to sparking contempt among the nations they annually invade.

Rude and aggressive, the perception of Germans and Russians still doesn’t quite compete with the universal bile that the British can muster, regularly topping most-hated tourist charts. As for the Americans, well they have Mormons and bum bags and don’t know any better.

Across the next three months or so, local news in the Costa del Sol, Costa Blanca and Mallorca will be swamped by déjà vu tales of young British tourists fighting, falling and fornicating while locals shake their heads or take advantage.

A yearly fixture since the first package holidays, the worry for the vast multitudes who don’t cause any trouble is that the actions of the few create a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy whereby young Brits are isolated in and manoeuvred to particular districts or clubs. They are considered a threat or a challenge because their reputation precedes them, and then find themselves caught up in another headline generating moment of madness.

English football fans are a classic example. Cultivating a fearsome reputation as some of Europe’s most violent hooligans during the dawn of the casuals in the 70’s and 80’s, they are now frequently targeted by foreign firms for bragging rights, despite being relatively peaceful.

A huge part of the problem is caused by alcohol and the complex role it plays in a British culture renowned across Europe for lacking the constitution to properly handle the booze.

Combined with a generally more violent, frustrated temperament than many found throughout the continent, cheap drinks, sun, and the hormone charged freedom of a two-week break, it’s hardly a surprise that the country’s gained such a poor reputation.

Of course another piece of the puzzle is presented by a level of arrogance and noise you’d only expect from American college students partying in Tijuana for the first time. There’s an expectation, honed from centuries of isolation and empire, that locals will speak English, which does nothing but engineer further scorn.

There’s also the advent of tabloid media and reality television which feeds, and feeds on, this self-centred consumerist behaviour, revelling in death and tragedy, while normalising it for a whole generation of easily influenced young people.

At least that’s something we do have some level of control over. Follow Mallorca’s lead and ban the likes of Geordie Shore filming on British territory, and follow Russia, Greece and Turkey by bringing back national service.

Maybe then in a few years from now, when the stars of reality TV shows have been quietly culled, even the English will be warmly greeted across the resorts of southern Europe, and not just because of their fat wads of euros. 


  1. Matthew I like your final comment about national service. That is what our country needs to install some semblance of respectability and decency in today’s youth.
    The way non-British people look at us on the streets should be a good indication that we are not liked, and certainly not welcome in many places.
    Puerta Banus is a prime example, for there are many fights involving British youth in the disco’s and bars during July and August.
    As evidenced by the goings on in Marseilles at the moment, all they think of is booze, and lots of it.
    Who the hell starts getting ‘tanked up’ at ten o’clock in the morning? This will always lead to fights and disgraceful behaviour.
    We have become a nation of vicious drunks, as is evidenced by the many fights in our towns and cities on a Friday and Saturday night.
    Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that ALL our youth are like this, but a large proportion of them are, especially from the lower classes.
    National service is the only way to stop this stupidity and earn some semblance of respect that we once had from other nations.

  2. Not sure I agree with foisting drunks and dropouts onto the armed forces. Being ex R.N. myself, I know the trouble these yobs bring to an efficient and professional military unit. Strong discipline only leads to more rebellious attitudes, as they were so unused to it in their previous experience of unfettered life.
    I believe that the problem starts in dysfunctional homes, where parents are little better than the children they spawn. These dispossessed kids are dumped into PC Schools that are afraid to exert necessary discipline. So the poor youth, boy or girl goes through early life with no constraints, no moral code to emulate and then develop into the the wild yobs that pervade our own towns and cities let alone exotic holiday resorts. The problem goes deep and epitomises the downgrading of standards in all manner of life. Not only in Britain but many other countries too.
    Roy Leon

  3. I certainly agree with you comment Roy Leon. But I am not talking about having them join the regular army, but going through the system of training that regular army volunteers go through.
    It could well be special camps that have nothing to do with the regular army, but run in the same way. I don’t mean for them to be signed up for the RAF or Navy, or even the Army for that matter. These people need to learn discipline and how to behave, and army training is a good way to achieve that.
    I too blame the parents for the lack of proper upbringing of their children, and also the education system which today is pathetic.
    Things need to change in our country and rapidly when it comes to getting rid of this menace.

  4. I was appalled when I went back to live in uk
    No way – I met very few parents who could control their kids- schooling ‘WHAT SCHOOLING’? The only kids who got any were the ones whose parents paid the state system was bad when I left infact in went down hill so much that tg I was able to get my three into private.
    The attitude in UK seems to be nothing to do ‘lets get drunk’ and gov does not help with the size of beer cans

  5. Agree with previous comments, but social media spewing out violent, disruptive behaviour as ‘normal’ desensities young people who already have had no moral code or pattern of decent behaviour laid down for them by parents. Schools can no longer provide discipline. Parents take children out of school in term time showing no respect for teachers or school rules, give their children the message – ‘it’s alright to have no respect for anything, do what you like, put two fingers up to you teachers!’. The guide lines need to be put in before children go to school and that is the parents responsibility. Unfortunately some parents do not know what the guide lines are!


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