Thursday, April 13, 2006

Like a book he talkest

I work in rather a grim part of South London. Hedged about by what when I lived in the US were called the projects, my walk from the bus every morning takes me past signs exhorting me not to use my phone due to the depredations of bicycling youth, signs that ask for information about the latest spot of ghastliness (never see a policeman though).

However, recently something rather splendid has happened - the street sweeper has been changed from a man who did nothing to a man who takes a pride in his work. The streets - whilst not exactly gleaming - are now impressively clean and tidy and it really does improve the feel of the place.

So I was rather disgusted to be walking behind two girls, dressed in obligatory track suits and swearing like navvies who as they picked through their fast food breakfasts chose to discard their detritus on the street without a second thought, despite numerous bins put there by the considerate rate payer. It never occured to them not to befoul the place where they live.

I would have remonstrated with them but first, I was worried about being screamed at (nothing worse than public spectacles) and second I trod on some gum that some other bugger had booby-trapped the pavement with which necessitated some hard graft to scrape the filthy stuff off.

But the incident got me thinking - why have so many people totally abandoned the small social courtesies that make life so much more bearable? And why do the left blame those of us who still behave (more or less) well in public?

I was going to write on this at (greater) length, but then I noted this in the Times, and I have to say Mr Delingpole puts it ever so much better than I would. In it he ponders this collapse of behaviour and the reaction that is happening in letting off steam by laughing at Chavs through fancy dress parties and the likes of Little Britain's Pollard. His conclusion?

So just why have these social menaces been able to flourish? I know who I blame: the sort of humourless, Polly Toynbee-style Lefties who argue so passionately that we shouldn’t laugh about them. If, for example, you were very unlucky last Christmas you might have been given a book called Is it Just Me or is Everything Shit? This feeble socialist agit-prop masquerading as humour lambasted, inter alia, the existence of Nu Snobbery, ie, being rude about poor people.

What the authors failed to understand is that the reason we laugh at the underclass owes less to snobbery than to frustration and despair at the social consequences of bien-pensant misgovernance. We see young girls being given a financial incentive to turn into single mums; we see parents unwilling to discipline and schools afraid to teach; we see a Government hell-bent on expanding the State so that more people are reduced to the role of whining supplicants; we inhabit a society obsessed with human rights but apparently uninterested in personal responsibility. We laugh at the underclass for the same reason we laugh in wartime and after appalling disasters: because if we didn’t we’d only cry.

Read the whole thing.


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