I’ve been a fan of Theodore Dalrymple/Anthony Daniels for years, so posting this bugs me. He seems to be shifting from general “Britain, what a toilet it’s turned into” pieces to just downright despising the English. If I were to be ungenerous, I would summarize this article as “My wife and I want the poorly-paid people who do the stuff we can’t be bothered with to be incredibly enthusiastic. English (and French) people demand to be paid for all the work they perform, and they don’t even seem to enjoy being menials. They should be replaced by people from the third world.”
I was particularly struck by the fact that one of the servants who takes care of his mother-in-law is Haitian. I’m sure she is, as Dalrymple insists, a lovely woman. But I don’t see why Britain (or France, in this case) should be importing lots of Haitians because the well-off, childless Daniels (they’re both doctors) don’t feel like spending much time looking after a sick mother.
‘Nor does this affect only work such as looking after my mother-in-law. Some years ago, the Guardian columnist Madeleine Bunting wrote the following:
“So when a girl at 17 decides to go ahead and have a baby, there is no tragedy of lost opportunity other than the local checkout till waiting for her low-paid labour.”
This sentence breathes snobbery and disdain for those who actually do such work; it assumes, moreover, that once a supermarket checkout cashier, always a supermarket checkout cashier, a fate worse than death. That there might actually be people for whom such work is suitable and potentially not odious does not occur to the writer. What makes the work odious is not the work itself, but those who communicate their disdain of it.’
So Gemma from the council estate should embrace the suck because it’s the right thing to do, but there’s no reason from Mme Daniels to interrupt her vacation* or in any way “greatly disrupt her life”. If that means turning Paris into Port-au-Prince, well, have you seen the French lately? It’s probably for the best.
‘With the exception of family hotels, for example, all good hotels in Britain employ exclusively foreign labour. If you want to go to a really bad large hotel in Britain, find one in which the staff are British. It is then guaranteed to be ill-kept, with slovenly service, quite possibly not very clean, with atrocious food, grubby staff, inattention to detail and so forth. Even a foreign telephonist is likely to be better, and to speak better English, than an English telephonist. If you want a good or even only a decent hotel, you must find one in which all the staff are foreign. And this is so whatever the unemployment rate, high or low: it has nothing to do with the unemployment rate.’
*To be fair, I’ve no idea whether she goes on vacation.