Category Archives: idleness

Harley Street paved with gold

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Harley Street: view from Cavendish Square

Iatrophobia is a serious medical condition (focal sepsis is very often present), though it is sometimes highly treatable — and at the very least can be managed and palliated — if the patient is constrained to undergo a colectomy and adjuvant frontal leucotomy along with inguinal orchiectomy and Metrazol-induced convulsion therapy.

The psychotic delusional condition of iatromisia, on the other hand, though it can be treated with the above methods — applied perforce with much greater intensity and with the addition of comprehensive salvage insulin coma therapy (Insulinschockbehandlung) — is sadly not so tractable.

Harley Street: view from Cavendish Square

Harley Street: view from Cavendish Square

Indeed, writes Dalrymple, carcinoma iatromisia is metastatising,

not among the general public, which on the whole retains its respect for and trust in doctors (a fact borne out by all the surveys), but among the intelligentsia — literary folk, journalists and so on.

This kind of people,

perhaps because their own crafts are held in such low public esteem, believe that doctors should be taken down a peg or two.

Harley Street: view from Cavendish Square

Harley Street: view from Cavendish Square

Dalrymple says there are two main charges against doctors, particularly hospital consultants:

  • they are on the golf course most of the time
  • they are making a fortune from their private practices

These two complaints, Dalrymple points out,

are not strictly compatible. Doctors are often quite clever people, but even they have not mastered the art of being in two places at once, and the only way of making money out of private practice is to work very hard at it. Doctors are not paid for a birdie three or an eagle two.

On the part of journalists and the literati, Dalrymple observes,

141 Harley Street

141 Harley Street

the primordial antagonism towards doctors is not fully rational: it is a little like anti-Semitism.

Jews, to the anti-Semite, are simultaneously

  • capitalist plutocrats
  • communist agitators

In the same way, doctors, to the iatromisiac, are simultaneously

  • incredibly lazy
  • ferociously avaricious
Crœsus of consultants: Thomas Horder, 1st Baron Horder, lords it over his patients in his consulting-room at 141 Harley Street. Note the photograph of Neville Chamberlain on the mantelpiece

Crœsus of consultants: Lord Horder at 141 Harley Street. Note the framed photo of Neville Chamberlain

How fortunes are made effortlessly from private practice

The golf course is to iatromisia

what ritual murder is to the anti-Semite: a myth to keep a hatred warm.

Dalrymple explains that

doctors as a group are better than many groups of comparable size.

Of his own professional circumstances he writes:

I am on duty one night in five, and have been for years. I do no private practice, apart from some medico-legal work. I never refuse to get up in the middle of the night to see a patient, and if I do get up, I still have to go to work the following morning, however tired I may feel. My pay is adequate, and I do not complain about it: my wife, who is also a doctor, and I live well but not extravagantly. Certainly, many people with less strenuous lives earn much more than we do. As far as I am aware, I have not lost a single patient through carelessness in all those years.

Harley Street looking north from Weymouth Street

Harley Street looking north from Weymouth Street

And what Dalrymple does

is only what thousands of other doctors do.

To be told that he belongs to

an avaricious, power-mad, privileged and lazy cabal by people whose prerogatives are distinctly those of the harlot sticks a little in my throat.

Dalrymple does not claim to love humanity,

Harley Street looking north from Weymouth Street

Harley Street looking north from Weymouth Street

but I do get up at 3am if I am required to do so. It is far, far easier and less demanding to write an editorial; I know because I have done both.

Iatromisia, he points out,

coheres with governments’ increasing fear of professions that escape their complete control. Disproportionate criticism of the medical profession by journalists and authors serves governments’ goal of a totally managed society.

91 Harley Street. At left, the chauffeur keeps the Bentley engine running, ready to take the consultant to the golf course or the bordello at any time of the day

91 Harley Street. Note the parked Bentley. The chauffeur keeps the engine running, ready to take the consultant to golf course, club or bordello at any time of day

91 Harley Street

91 Harley Street

13 Harley Street

13 Harley Street

Consulting-room at 13 Harley Street. Note the painting of a young Margaret Thatcher

Consulting-room at 13 Harley Street. Note the painting of a young Margaret Thatcher


73 Harley Street. Architect: W. Henry White

73 Harley Street. Architect: W. Henry White. The French Loire style, brick with plenty of terracotta decoration on a small, playful scale (Pevsner)

73 Harley Street. ‘The French Loire style, brick with plenty of terracotta decoration on a small, playful scale’ of which there are several specimens in and around Harley Street, ‘characterised by heavy curved door canopies, shallow bay windows, Tudor mullions and transomes, steep gables’. (Pevsner)

83 Harley Street

83 Harley Street

Fireplace in a consulting-room at 83 Harley Street. The consultant stands before it, delivers a homily — with the patient maintaining a respectful silence — on bowel regulation or the virtue of broccoli ingestion, then it’s off to the links, his club or his mistress's Belgravia flat

Fireplace in a consulting-room at 83 Harley Street. The consultant stands before it, delivers a homily — with the patient maintaining a respectful silence — on bowel regulation or the virtue of broccoli ingestion, then it’s off to see the mistress in her Belgravia flat, or else to the links or the club. Yes, life is good

88 Harley Street

88 Harley Street

88 Harley Street

88 Harley Street

92 Harley Street

92 Harley Street

92 Harley Street

92 Harley Street

Harley Street viewed from Cavendish Square

Harley Street viewed from Cavendish Square

Why the West has to import labour

Despicable work, according to the UK newspaper the Guardian

Despicable work, according to the UK newspaper the Guardian

People, especially young people, in the better-off countries of Western Europe very often have completely the wrong attitude to work, if they work. The result, writes Dalrymple, is that,

despite mass unemployment, we have to import labour

in order that certain kinds of work be done. In Ireland, for example, Dalrymple says that

an old lady of my acquaintance needed 24-hour attendance, and this was provided by a Filipina, even at a time when there was 15% unemployment in Ireland.

An important factor is the

system of social security and unemployment benefits. The economic difference between doing this type of work and not working is not great enough to entice any native to do it.

There is also a

psychological, cultural or even religious difference. The change in the title of the senior nurse in a hospital ward from sister to ward manager is indicative of a change in sensibility, from a residually religious notion of serving others to a technocratic one. In the popular imagination, the distinction between service and servitude has been more or less eliminated.

Dalrymple cites a sentence written by a columnist in the London newspaper the Guardian:

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.

Such a sentence, Dalrymple notes,

breathes snobbery and disdain for those who do such work; it assumes that once a checkout cashier, always a checkout cashier, a fate worse than death. That there might 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 but those who communicate their disdain of it. Snobbery thus makes the import of labour necessary.

Take hotels. In Britain, Dalrymple points out,

all good hotels 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 guaranteed to be ill-kept, with slovenly service, not very clean, with atrocious food, grubby staff, inattention to detail. 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. This is so whatever the unemployment rate, high or low.

Dalrymple says he asks people to imagine that they are employers who seek an employee to perform work that is not skilled but requires such characteristics as punctuality, politeness, willingness to oblige.

The imagined employer has two applicants about whom he knows only two things: their age (shall we say 24) and their nationality. One is British and one is Polish. Which of the applicants does the imagined employer choose? Not a single person to whom I have put this question has hesitated for a moment: he chooses the Pole.

Our need for migrants

has a cultural, not an economic root.

But of course,

this does not mean that we need all the migrants we are likely to get from wherever we get them.

Anglo-Saxon gastronomic impoverishment

British culinary imbecility British culinary imbecility

Dalrymple writes:

I happen to dislike prepared foods, though more on æsthetic than on health grounds; I see what people choose and am appalled by their choices, which seem to me to be those of overindulged children who have never matured in their tastes.

He has

no real objection to regulation of the sugar content of prepared foods, provided it was done on intellectually honest grounds. Those grounds would not be that people are incapable of acting other than as they do, but that they are too idle to cook, their tastes and pleasures are too brutish, their habits too gross, for them to be left free to choose for themselves. Someone who knows better must guide them.

Corruption, British-style

Screen Shot 2013-12-21 at 02.25.52Dalrymple explains why during Britain’s boom, high rates of indigenous unemployment were maintained while the country sucked in almost equivalent numbers of foreigners to perform unskilled labour. He writes:

The official unemployment figures fell but the slack (if I may be allowed a slight pun) was taken up by the allegedly ill, of whom very few were actually ill. They were unemployed, not sick, but being certified as sick meant that they could claim benefits for ever and the government to claim that unemployment was at such a low level that foreign labour was required.

While millions were kept in subsidised idleness,

millions were imported to do the work that the idle millions might have done.

The foreigners

were better workers. Though their education might have cost a fraction of what a British education cost, they were often much better educated. Their attitude to work was much better, and it was much better because the incentive for them to work was much stronger. They compared their wages with what they would have earned had they not come, not with what they would have received for doing nothing at all, which is the comparison the British unemployed made.

The indigenous unemployed

received non-transferable housing subsidies that trapped them but which, from the crudely economic point of view, were beneficial to them. They would not give these up merely to work for a wage that might leave them hardly any better, or even worse, off.


Britain: home to the world’s most charmless people

Dalrymple on his country’s parlous state

  • Creeping Sovietisation

Large areas resemble the Soviet Union with takeaway pizza. The only ‘private’ enterprise consists of retail chains that recycle government subventions to the unemployed. The middle class is composed of public employees who cater to the problems created by mass unemployment.

  • Circumambient criminality

At the start of the deutero-Elizabethan age, Britain was one of the best-ordered societies in Europe. Now it is the most crime-ridden. Social disorder is everywhere. A curfew has been imposed on old people by the drunken disorder that appals and disgusts foreigners.

  • Screen Shot 2013-04-21 at 16.16.18Pervasive squalor

The ugliness perpetrated everywhere by post-war architects has been matched by an ugliness of soul and society that is so obvious to visitors.

  • Fraudulence at every level
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Seth Pecksniff

The country has become deeply corrupt, but in a British way, that is, hypocritical and underhand rather than worldly and cynical, Pecksniff rather than Talleyrand. Corruption and irresponsibility have been legalised: £12bn, for example, has disappeared (except for some consultants) on a scheme to provide uniform medical records. No crime has been committed, but the money has gone.

  • Cock-eyed, increasingly useless policing

Screen Shot 2013-04-21 at 16.20.44Our police, once a model to the world resemble an alien occupying army, festooned with the apparatus of repression, who inspire fear in the innocent and are bullying yet ineffectual.

  • Institutionalised idleness

Some 2.9m people claiming to be so ill that they could not work: the British benefits system performed the miracle of causing more invalids than World War I. Policy has been to suck in large amounts of unskilled foreign labour while maintaining high indigenous unemployment.

  • Economic collapse

Economically on a knife-edge, per capita private debt among the highest, huge commercial deficit, budget deficit among the highest.

  • Gracelessness and sordor

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    Fuck off!

Many grow into profoundly unsocial beings of whom others are afraid. A population has emerged that is the most charmless in the world.

Physical and mental incapacity of the British

Screen Shot 2015-04-18 at 10.23.29Dalrymple writes of the pleasures of browsing in second-hand bookshops in the course of a discussion of the joys and pains of goofing off. He points out that in the UK in 2004,

2.7 million people were claiming incapacity benefit, half a million more than were injured in the First World War and four times as many as were claiming its equivalent in the mid-1970s. Surely the health of the population had not declined so drastically in the meantime?