Category Archives: taxi drivers

Macron’s manifold flaws

Jumping into a taxi in Paris, Dalrymple gets talking to the (Vietnamese) driver about the presidential election. The driver says he is not a fan of Marine Le Pen, but if in the second round she is pitted against Emmanuel Macron, he will vote for her. Dalrymple asks what puts him off the male aspirant. The driver points out that Macron

  • is an unknown quantity
  • has an unpleasing face — not exactly ugly, but hard, ruthless and predatory
  • is too young
  • is a bungler
  • has enjoyed a too meteoric rise
  • is a half-cocked tinkerer at the margins rather than the radical reformer needed in these times
  • lacks experience
  • has a personal life that is rather odd (maybe he is his wife’s puppet)
  • is too plainly the candidate of the European political élite, something which of course counts greatly against him

Singapore cabbies outclass FT in intelligence and realism

screen-shot-2017-01-15-at-15-49-02A lot of Dalrymple’s information about humanity and the world comes from taxi-drivers. He writes:

On the whole I have found them more reliable, accurate, intelligent, and realistic than, say, the commentators in the Financial Times. They are generally much more interesting, too, and express themselves more vividly, even if English is their seventh language.

Dalrymple notes that an imperfect command of the English language sometimes confers an expressive eloquence. Finding himself in Singapore, he attempts to hail a taxi. You cannot do this on the street in the city-state, you have to go to a taxi-stand.

This I did, but still no taxi would stop for me. The taxis swept past me as if I did not exist. Then someone came and hailed a taxi about two feet to my right. A taxi stopped immediately and took him. When I stood two feet to the right of where I had been standing, a taxi stopped for me immediately. I told the driver of my experience and he, Chinese without a great deal of English, replied, ‘Singapore velly, velly law.

Dalrymple asks:

Have you read anything in the Financial Times, or any other serious newspaper, that so succinctly and accurately sums up a country or society?

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Unreliable, inaccurate and very far from succinct

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Singapore velly, velly law

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Financial Times very, very wrong

Financial Times very, very wrong: the plutocrats’ paper on the horrors of Brexit

Postcards from Loughborough

screen-shot-2017-01-15-at-11-17-43Evil studies and parties here

Arriving in Loughborough, in Leicestershire in the English Midlands, Dalrymple takes a taxi from the station to the far side of the university. He asks the taxi-driver what the students are like. The taxi-driver says:

They’re evil bastards.

screen-shot-2017-01-15-at-11-19-34Dalrymple is taken aback by this forthrightness, even though as he points out (by way of understatement),

I cannot be accused of being dewy-eyed about humanity.

Dalrymple describes the taxi-driver’s judgment as

spontaneous, deeply felt, and obviously the fruit of what sociologists call lived experience.

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The Loughborough Taxi Association rank

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Singapore velly, velly law

Collyer Quay

Collyer Quay

That is what a Singapore taxi driver said when Dalrymple asked why no taxi had stopped for him on a particular stretch of road. (Dalrymple had been standing a yard from the legally constituted designated spot at which taxis could pick up passengers). Thus, writes Dalrymple,

an imperfect command of the English language sometimes confers an expressive eloquence and succinctness.

An accurate summation of the situation in the city-state. Dalrymple admits to a certain ambivalence about the place.

I admire rather than like its discipline, even if I think on balance that its effects have been good.

I ad that Theodore Dalrymple in the back of the cab once