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  1. Wealth
October 20, 2008

The end of the affair

By Spear's

There’s always something quite poignant about the end of season at a holiday destination.

There’s always something quite poignant about the end of season at a holiday destination – even when the season is stretched well beyond the bounds of reason. This is what my husband and I just did when we went to Capri over a weekend in mid-October to celebrate a friend’s birthday.

As a chill descended in the wake of the setting sun, we donned light jumpers to go to dinner and talked wistfully of the beautiful day it had been: crisp white sunshine on the back of a boat crossing to a secluded lunch spot. We insisted that this was indeed quite better than the height of the season in July and August, but there was the unmistakably recurrent note of longing in our voices – that bittersweet longing for what is about to end, like sex for what you know is the last time with the lover you are about to leave. And Capri was a part of all our romantic pasts: we started our honeymoon here; our friends had their first date here.

So I was surprised when we boarded the funicolare up from the port to the piazzetta to encounter a large Eastern European tour group. Far from wistful, they were enthusiastic and grateful to be there. And they were not alone: the narrow steep alleyways of Capri were clogged with surprisingly quiet and civilized French, German, and even an American, tour groups. They were all quietly content, as if the cooling weather had cooled their passions – and we were all Capri was the better for it.

The vicissitudes of passion were on everyone’s mind. As we had the last supper of the season in the Canzone del Mare, we spoke of the end of another era: the bull market and its associated “masters of the universe.” Bankers, so long the well-remunerated heroes, now look set to be vilified for some time to come. It seemed bizarrely fitting then that we took the bus up the vertiginous winding roads to Anacapri to find the house where Graham Greene wrote The End of the Affair. Indeed.

Economically, we’re told there will be a return to quality: a return to manufacturing and investments that are tangible and quantifiable and away from unquantifiable opaque derivatives of derivatives. A flight to quality is exactly what we were doing in Capri: for decades a destination that is rewarding and chic – and staying in the famous Quisisana Hotel, not some overhyped Starck-designed boutique hotel that costs more than it comforts.

As we emptied the streets and left the island to its no-doubt exhausted locals and returned to our quotidien lives, we couldn’t help but wonder what else might end along with the era of easy money.

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