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.”