Sharks in the Water and Out

The story of Paul Marshallsea, the man incapacitated by work-related stress who yet managed to wrestle a 6-foot shark while on vacation, can only make one laugh ruefully at what has been called “First World problems”. Somehow I doubt these things happen in, say, Zaire. From Dalrymple’s City Journal piece on the matter:

Under the best circumstances, “work-related stress” is a slippery concept, almost an invitation to fraud. And here the context is important. Marshallsea lives in Merthyr Tydfil, long known as the sick-note capital of Britain. Up to a fifth of its people of working age receive a certificate of sickness from doctors sympathetic to the plight of the unemployed. (The sick get higher state benefits than the merely unemployed.) There is thus almost a presumption of sickness in Merthyr, once a prosperous industrial town. Unemployment is virtually a hereditary condition, having been passed down to the third generation. Were it not for the public sector, unemployment in Merthyr would be nearly 100 percent.

The work that caused the Marshallseas so much stress was with a so-called charity—the Pant and Dowlais Boys & Girls Club, for whom they had worked for ten years. The object of the club is to help Merthyr Tydfil’s boys and girls develop their physical, mental, and spiritual capacities through leisure activities. This included providing them with a disco.

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