Dalrymple’s recent encounter in a British café with a worker young enough to be his grandson began this way:
‘What do you want, mate?’ he asked me.
‘Please don’t take it badly,’ I said mildly, ‘but I don’t think you should call your customers mate.’
‘I can call them what I like.
‘But you shouldn’t call them mate.’
‘It isn’t. It’s vulgar.’
‘It’s better than being rude.’
‘It is being rude, or at least crude.’
Read on to see why he concludes, “In a few words spoken in a café, we can espy the grim future of our country.”
“industries aiming to provide a high level of service will not employ young Britons of relatively poor backgrounds but prefer young Poles, French or Spanish, nopne of whom would dream of behaving in this way.”
In my experience there is a lot of truth in this, of young eastern european ladies in particular. What a breath of fresh air. Just their body language, their facial expressions even. I don’t to what extent they are representative of people back where they come from but it is surely some kind of indicator.
I’ve been to hundreds of cafés in Britain and don’t think I’ve once been called “mate” by anyone working in them. I’m usually served by polite, smiling English girls and quite often addressed as “sir”. Maybe Dalrymple has an unconscious nostalgie de la boue which keeps sucking him into these situations.
It may surprise you to know that actually I pretty much believe you (hundreds of cafe’s? maybe an exaggeration, but hey, I sometimes exaggerate, I know what you mean. Actually I seriously doubt that in the majority of cafes you go to that you are usually served by English girls).
I can’t really speak for Dalrymple… for my own part I may well be suffering from something of an irrational, even ugly, prejudice against probably the majority of young women (men as well)… it may be almost entirely without foundation, and basically due to my own character fault blah blah, but true to people with such character faults I’m going to take a lot of convincing that that is the case.
Here’s something that might not be too much of a digression that may be of interest, to whoever. Recently I had the rather unpleasant job of cleaning dog crap off the pavement, as you can imagine I wasn’t overly impressed. I succumbed to a bit of hate projection and curiously enough my mind wasn’t conjuring vengeful images of a dog.
Oh no, my prejudice was in no doubt that it was a man, probably a semi-homeless (whatever they are) man. I also had this notion that when it happened there was a fairly high chance that he felt a certain sense of satisfaction (these are not foregone conclusions, I might be wrong).
Reflecting on this, as is my custom (like soul searching), I thought how often it is that when I hear of, or read about, the most wicked crimes etc I automatically assume that a man is the perpetrator. Am I a traitor to my sex? No, I don’t think so, I think it is entirely reasonable. Though apparently according to statistics of domestic violence women are far more often perpetrators than people like myself tend to assume – my prejudice may readjust in accordance with this.
Anyway, back to the a*sehole that let his dog sh*t on the pavement (or rather, didn’t clean up after it), although I assume it was a man, I also pretty much assume that probably like the majority of deeply unpleasant thugs in prison he’s probably had a string of women in his life, probably most of them thought/think they’re wonderful, and that if anything they actually had a good influence on such men, I seriously doubt it. (actually probably most of them don’t care, because society can’t conclusively ‘prove’ anything to this effect).
This is the part of the picture that I believe is way too often neglected; I’m not sure Dalrymple would approve of my quoting him in this context (he would perhaps wish to dissociate himself from my reasoning) but here it is, use your discretion.
“Her foolishness in going to the man’s place of residence after the break-up not once but twice, when it was virtually certain that he had been violent to her many times before, is something to which I have found by experience that it is hazardous to allude, at least to an audience of middle-class intellectuals. Such an audience immediately supposes that I am blaming the woman for the man’s behavior, which is entirely, and I might say maliciously, to miss the point. It is absolutely no mitigation of the man’s behavior that the woman in the case was foolish; but to disguise this foolishness on the grounds that it might be considered ‘blaming the victim’ has two harmful aspects.”
So it’s probably subtle for most people, the distinction that seems quite obvious to me, between east european (and far eastern girls) and girls of English Speaking nations. I really just don’t think they’ve had anywhere near as much exposure to ‘Sex in the City’ (and far worse actually) type narcissistic culture, (also read Natasha Walters, Living Dolls). The ‘false prospectus’ as Dalrymple refers to it here http://www.city-journal.org/html/10_3_urbanities-all_sex.html makes itself known in all manner of subtle ways (not merely in town centres when, say, young women are ‘reclaiming the night’ – bet TD is holding his breath).
Now, had I been one to indulge the ‘false prospectus’, and come through it, like so many don’t, I daresay I might be inclined to see all the harmless innocence of the ‘I feel wonderful therefore I am’ culture reflected in the affected (as Jane Austen describes it) politeness of so many young women, and men but I obviously don’t – I cling to what might be an illusion of how much better things could, and should, be.
Above comment, if it passes moderation, when I said “Oh no, my prejudice was in no doubt that it was a man, probably a semi-homeless (whatever they are) man.” I mean it was a man responsible for the dog, I don’t mean it was human feces. Although, it is certainly occasionally that – that’s quite an easy di-stinc-tion.
Also when I say “I cling to what might be an illusion of how much better things could, and should, be.”
If it isn’t fairly obvious, the ‘illusion’ being that non-English speaking women in the service industry tend to be more, I’d say much more, like what I think women could and should be.
On the point:
“(actually probably most of them don’t care, because society can’t conclusively ‘prove’ anything to this effect)”
I the chapter on Risks in the book Big Data
The authors discuss the potential for a ‘Minority Report’ type future, dystopian future. I think of Burke
“Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.”
Yeah well, suffice to say the authors didn’t recommend Skeptical Doctor and the superb Dalrymple forum.
From my point of view there’s almost certainly more to fear from Big Data than not but it going to increasingly shape our lives in future – just to process a single week of internet activity of millions of users, I think, would be very telling; and really, propensities will matter more and more.
Since I dragged out the “…the majority of deeply unpleasant thugs in prison he’s probably had a string of women in his life…” theme I couldn’t resist following up on it with a reference to ‘Buckley vs Women’ on youtube but WARNING!! He uses very bad language, and hence I’ve not linked directly to it, I actually feel a little guilty that it made me laugh heartily at several places.
Funnily enough just this morning I saw a man with Big Issue vest (presumably homeless) with plastic bag in hand and bending down to pick up his dog’s droppings. I haven’t actually noticed that before; granted it was on the pavement immediately outside a regular haunt of homeless people but I daresay some, perhaps even the majority, are generally rather good at cleaning up after their dogs.
Yes, that is odd. I tend to be treated courteously too. Remember the power of non- verbal communication.
Funny, when I’m in Britain I always get called ‘love’ by the taxi drivers. The first time I was speechless and also a little offended; nobody would ever talk to a strange woman like that in my country. Now I’m used to it, but I’d still prefer it if they’d just call me ‘miss’. Maybe I should just address them with ‘mate’ next time?