My, but we’ve been having some weather lately.
Even so, I was mildly shocked to see that a reader poll in The Lady magazine is running two-to-one in favour of diverting Britain’s overseas aid budget to mopping-up the floods.
What are they thinking?
It seems that two-thirds of our richest ten per cent that contributes the fragrant ones who take… er, The Lady magazine, many of them claiming no doubt to be churchgoing Christians, think that the world’s poorest people should be made to pay for the folly of those in the world’s sixth largest economy who have built their agreeably expensive homes next to the river Thames at Weybridge or Datchet.
You may ask how I know what readers of a magazine called The Lady are thinking? It is because they employ household servants; and, as long as they aren’t reading this, muh li’l bogl, which seems likely, they could be employing me: as I have lately eked out a precarious living as a gardener/handyman, housekeeper/cook, hospitality manager and caretaker for private homeowners; including nearly seven years in sole charge of a historic house with 14 bedrooms for the two adults and a child who otherwise occupied it for three weeks a year (but would not consider my creative suggestion that the rest of the year we could house homeless asylum-seekers in the spare rooms). I can wield a sandbag with the best.
So I am, not unexpectedly, in need of employment.
In the back-end of The Lady, as it were, are to be found the majority of Wanted ads for people like – or kind-of like – me. Ads, that is, that have not been placed by the beguilingly stupid and snooty recruitment consultants in the field; some fifteen posh London agencies staffed by supercilious interns (all-girl), who between them have only once in four years had the sagacity to commend me to their clients as being worth an (unsuccessful) interview. (If you think my use of the word ‘stupid’ suggests a certain vindictiveness, I suggest you visit their web sites first. Take a designer sickbag.)
It embarrassed even the well-heeled delegates in Davos last month to learn that the richest one-per cent of sweating, shitting, arse-scratching humans have collared 85 per cent of all the wealth in the world. My modest proposal is that we should ask them to chip-in just nought-point-one per cent of their income for February to pay the Environment Agency to dredge all the rivers and ditches on the Somerset levels, before robbing the last ten per cent of other humans who earn less than three dollars a day stitching designer labels onto their kids’ trainers while the building falls down around their ears.
I am almost tired of pointing out to silly bloggers that, of every one hundred pounds generated in the British economy, we send less than 70 pence abroad, most of it through accredited agencies. We do it partly out of compassion, but largely because we can easily afford it: it ensures an eventual financial return for British exporters and could perhaps enhance our domestic security and prestige. Far more overseas aid still is contributed through the remittances of foreign domestic servants employed to work 80-plus hours a week on sub-minimum wages for readers of The Lady magazine, yet who somehow manage selflessly to support their families back home.
The Lady magazine is edited by Rachel Johnson, sister of the larky Boris, mayor of London – the wealthiest city, ever probably, on the face of the earth. Perhaps she could point out to her fashionable clientele that there really is no moral equivalence between someone sloshing about in a few inches of Thames in their designer wellies, on the phone to their insurers to have some clever little van-men round to replace their Poggenpohl kitchens; and a family of nine huddled for months and years under a plastic sheet beside a broken road running through a community that has been obliterated by tsunami, typhoon, earthquake or raping child-militias sponsored by diamond dealers.
She could point out, too, that extreme weather events like Typhoon Haian, which killed ten thousand and rendered another two million prospective Philippino housemaids and gardeners homeless last year, are more than likely the result of the wealth, warmth and comfort we in the North have engineered for ourselves over the past 250 years.
Occasionally, it cannot but be good for us to be reminded by Mother Nature that ‘We are all in this together’.