Category Archives: slovenliness

The Royal Bath Hotel then and now

Dalrymple writes that the Royal Bath Hotel in Bournemouth was once

the latest thing in luxury and bon ton. Oscar Wilde used regularly to stay there.

The world’s worst hotel company

However, he notes that the establishment

has since passed into the hands of the Britannia Hotel Group, regularly voted the worst hotel group in the country, if not in Europe and the rest of the world.

The Britannia Group’s hotels, says Dalrymple,

leave no opportunity for slovenliness unseized; indeed slovenliness of this thoroughness, like kitsch, transcends itself and also becomes some kind of achievement, in this case comic.

Britain: a service economy without the service

Bon ton

No opportunity for slovenliness left unseized

The Royal Bath Hotel’s car park

Fidel’s fantasy of making the world anew — violently

Dictador Supremo: José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia

Dictador Supremo: José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia

Fidel Castro, writes Dalrymple,

was the José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia de nos jours. Yet Francia had one great merit by comparison with Castro and his admirers: he made no pretence that the régime represented democracy of a higher or better kind than the parliamentary variety. Francia did not pretend that it was a democracy of any kind, and came right out with it: his self-chosen title was Dictator.

Castro was the darling of the intellectuals

partly because, like them, he was so slovenly in appearance, partly because he represented their wish fulfilment (inside every rebel there’s a dictator trying to get out). To rant for hours in front of a captive audience unable to answer or object: what greater bliss for an intellectual?

Admiration for Castro in the West was, of course, from afar. Dalrymple points out that Castro’s admirers

would not have found the régime they affected to admire supportable for a single day.

The admiration in the West

for Castro and his appalling sidekick and potential rival, Ernesto Guevara, was essentially frivolous, more a question of style than of substance. It was the promise of eternal adolescence that the two revolutionary egotists held out that rendered them so attractive at a time when adolescence was regarded as the finest of the seven ages of man.

Alberto Korda with his photograph

Alberto Korda with his photograph

Dalrymple notes that

if the photographer Alberto Korda had not snapped Guevara in an uncharacteristically romantic pose (usually he looked dishevelled and unwashed), the cult would not have existed. This was the face that launched a thousand T-shirts, not to say berets, badges, posters, coffee mugs, car stickers, and other items of kitsch.

Dictador Dalrymple would force

anyone guilty of wearing a Guevara T-shirt to read 20 pages of his writings, which make those of Leonid Brezhnev seem like P.G. Wodehouse.

When Dalrymple contemplates

the printed acreage of praise of Castro by Western intellectuals, I recall the words of Thomas Carlyle with regard to what he calls the gauchos of Paraguay:

These men are fit to be drilled into something! Their lives stand there like empty capacious bottles, calling to the heavens and the earth. ‘Is there nothing to put into us, then?’

Dalrymple:

Yes, there is: fantasies of omnipotence, fantasies of making the world anew, with us in charge.

screen-shot-2016-12-03-at-19-43-52

Revolutionary egotists

A service economy without the service

The Britannia Hotel, Coventry

The Britannia Hotel, Coventry

Whenever Dalrymple is in Amsterdam, he stays at

a small, elegant and well-run hotel. The excellent and obliging staff are all Dutch.

Whenever he is in London, he stays at

a small, elegant and well-run hotel. The excellent and obliging staff are all foreign.

This is just as well, writes Dalrymple,

for if they were English the hotel would not be well-run for long. When the English try to run an hotel, they combine pomposity with slovenliness.

Perhaps this would not be so serious a matter

if the British economy were not a so-called service economy. It has been such since Margaret Thatcher solved Britain’s chronic industrial relations problem by the expedient of getting rid of industry. This worked, and perhaps was inevitable, but it was necessary for Britain to find some other way of making its way in the world. This it has not done.

A ruthless incompetent: David Cameron

A ruthless incompetent: David Cameron

In Britain, Dalrymple points out,

incapacity is everywhere.

Incompetence starts at the top. The prime minister, David Cameron, is

a careerist and opportunist in the mould of Tony Blair. Not only was Mr. Cameron’s only pre-political job in public relations, hardly a school for intellectual and moral probity, but he has subscribed to every fashionable policy nostrum from environmentalism to profligate government expenditure. Not truth, but the latest poll, guides him.

Cameron has been

truly representative as prime minister. Like his country, he is without substance.

The secret of the British economic problem

English cuisine

Emetic: English cuisine

A service economy without the service

The British no longer have the faintest idea how to prepare or serve food, either in establishments they are pleased to call restaurants or in their own homes. According to W. Somerset Maugham, the only solution when in England is to eat breakfast three times a day. But the English can no longer manage with minimal competence even to prepare a halfway-decent breakfast.

British eating houses, bar-grills, cafés and other places where dining (of a kind) goes on, from the humblest truck-stop to the most exalted, starred restaurant, are easily the worst in Europe. It is better, for example, to go to bed hungry than to risk an evening meal at, say, an English public house.

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 09.59.02

Suburban Tudor

The Moon Under Water it isn’t

Dalrymple is reminded of this when, hungry one evening and with no other dining establishment in the vicinity, he enters a pub (which, like many from the 1920s and 1930s, is built rather pleasingly in the suburban Tudor style), and is greeted by

the flashing lights of fruit machines

and

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 10.45.20numerous large flat screens disposed in such a way that it was impossible to escape them. It was as if one had a duty to watch.

Drivelscreens

At least, he says, they

were all showing the same thing — a football match, football being a 24-hour activity.

Dalrymple dare not complain. British popular culture is

crude, unpleasant and inescapable; if you criticise it, you are taken for an enemy of the people.

The Codfather. Bon appétit!

The Codfather. Bon appétit!

The smell in the pub

was of stale beer and even staler fat in which standard British prolefood had been fried.

He peruses

the grubby menu, a triumph of quantity over quality. The fish dish was called The Codfather, size trumping taste. Everything came with chips, of the frozen variety.

Soupe à l'oignon

Soupe à l’oignon à l’anglaise

The table is

sticky and long unwiped.

Dalrymple orders soup. It is

packet soup which had not been properly dissolved, so that it had little balls in it that if bitten exploded into a kind of salty dust.

He orders steak, and asks for it to be rare. When it comes, it

would have been regarded as incinerated in any other country.

Fried mushrooms: at least their own weight in fat

Fried mushrooms: at least their own weight in fat

The fried mushrooms

contained at least their own weight in fat of some type.

The next morning

I woke with a strange and unpleasant taste in my mouth.

The meal

The flashing lights of fruit machines

The flashing lights of fruit machines

wasn’t even cheap.

This is the vital point. British food is not just atrocious — it is execrable value.

During the meal,

the man who had taken my order came over to my table.

Everything all right?‘ he asked.

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 11.02.01‘Yes, very good,’ I replied.

Dalrymple concludes:

The slovenliness, the bad quality, my pusillanimity: voilà the secret of the British economic problem.

Potty-training in reverse

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 07.40.22The emotional incontinence of the British

Dalrymple notes in the English

  • lack of dignity
  • absence of self-respect
  • shamelessness of public conduct
  • militant slovenliness

Almost the entire population of Britain

looks as though it has let itself go: and considers itself right to have done so.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 07.46.46The change has been wrought

by a gestalt switch in attitude to the public expression of emotion. Where once emotional restraint and self-control were admired, now it is emotional incontinence that the British aim for. It is as if they had undergone potty-training in reverse.

The English have been persuaded that emotions

are like pus in an abscess. If they are not released — by screaming and shouting, hugging and crying, wailing and raging, and the more publicly the better — they will turn inwards and cause emotional septicæmia. The person who controls himself is not only a figure of fun, but a traitor to his own best interests.

It is no surprise, then, that the British are

despised around the world.

Dirtiest people in Europe

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 07.32.44Let the State clear up after me

Why, asks Dalrymple, are Britain’s councils and its highways agency

so negligent?

Local public administration

is incapable of organising street-cleaning properly, and does not see it as an important part of its duty. After all, it has chief executives to pay.

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 08.06.36Why do the British

turn practically every road into a ribbon development of the rubbish dump of a Latin American town?

England’s streets are

by far the dirtiest in Western Europe. A Briton’s street is his dining room and litter bin.

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 08.12.44The English seem to think that

what a beauty spot really needs is an empty, glaring-orange Lucozade bottle.

Circumambient slovenliness

The explanation lies, Dalrymple points out, in the deep selfishness of the British.

In order not to litter when it might be convenient to you to do so, you have to appreciate that you are not the only person in the world, that the world is not made just for your convenience.

If you look at the British,

you would think they were like shrews, that they have to eat twice their own body weight every few hours to survive. It is hardly surprising that people who exert no control over when and where they eat exert no control over where they leave the remains.

It is no coincidence that the British,

being the dirtiest people in Europe, are also the fattest.