Theodore Dalrymple

Global Warning | 23 August 2008

Recently while travelling on the London Underground, the opening words of Marx’s The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte ran through my mind like a refrain: ‘Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic events and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.’ Why,

Global Warning | 19 July 2008

These things are sent to try us: I’m speaking now of circular letters from the General Medical Council. I recently received a second such letter about the Council’s Ethnicity Census from the president of the Council: Toward the end of 2007, I wrote asking for your help with an important project designed to help us

Global Warning | 28 June 2008

No doubt a Martian arriving on earth for the first time would perceive little difference between an inhabitant of Great Britain and an inhabitant of New Britain (off the coast of New Guinea), except perhaps that the former showed a greater propensity than the latter to get drunk and scream in public. Similarity and difference

Global Warning | 21 June 2008

The last time I played rugby, I was sent off for reading on the field. It was my small satirical protest against the supposition that my character would be much improved by having my knees dragged along icy ground, or my hand trodden into the mud by boys who, by dint of no effort of

Global Warning | 14 June 2008

The image of women in Victorian times veered between that of madonna and whore, but nowadays in Britain it veers between harridan and slut. This is only natural in a country where vulgarity is not only triumphant, but militant and deeply ideological. The men, of course, are just as bad. Recently, I flew to an

Global Warning | 7 June 2008

Staying recently in a handsome French provincial city, I could not help thinking, as I walked down its silent cobbled streets at night, what it would have been like if it had been in England. How restful is that deep, urban silence, which the young English so hate for fear of having to attend to

Global Warning | 31 May 2008

Life has taught me very little, but one thing I have learned is that the only employee of local councils with a genuine vocation is the rat-catcher. He always loves his rats, eliminating them with the deepest respect, and is extremely knowledgeable and interesting about their habits — which are, indeed, very interesting. The last

Global Warning | 24 May 2008

Theodore Dalrymple delivers a Global Warning It is when you see the English enjoying themselves that you realise the futility of life. Perhaps I should say trying to enjoy themselves: for in the attempt, rarely successful, they turn either glum or public nuisance. The occasion of these melancholy reflections was a rainy weekend in Torquay,

Global Warning | 17 May 2008

I realised that the town was a true community as soon as I heard a rumour that an old lady, a herbalist, had poisoned one of her neighbours. That is what community means: caring enough to poison people. In cities, contact with neighbours is so fleeting and impersonal that antagonism can be expressed only with

Global Warning | 7 May 2008

The writer Trigorin, in Chekhov’s The Seagull, always carried a notebook with him in which he jotted down ideas or snatches of conversation that interested him and that might have proved useful to him in the future. I have tried to develop the Trigorin habit myself, but unfortunately I have often forgotten to take my

Global Warning | 26 April 2008

Death and taxes: these, according to Benjamin Franklin, are the two immovables of human existence. In modern life, however, there is a third: drivel, from which, try as one might, it is now impossible to escape. I concede, of course, that it is possible that it’s my sensitivity to drivel rather than its incidence or

Between deference and insolence

In reviewing this book about the social, political and intellectual indispensability of disrespect, I should perhaps declare an interest: I am several times disrespected in it. I hope the author will not conclude, if I fail to take my revenge on this occasion, that I am suffering from the wrong kind of niceness. All my

Global Warning | 9 April 2008

Whenever I return to England from abroad, which is often, a very troubling question comes insistently into mind: why are the people here so ugly? I do not mean by this that I think all foreigners are handsome or beautiful, far from it. One of the tricks that Stepmother Nature has played on humanity is

Global Warning | 15 March 2008

If you would like to see the kind of out-at-elbow tweed jackets once beloved of schoolmasters before they discovered the joys of earrings and the like, and still by far my preferred apparel, you must go to provincial book fairs. They are smaller and less frequented than they used to be. It is a strange

Global Warning | 8 March 2008

Theodore Dalrymple delivers a Global Warning  It has been shown conclusively that people who listen to the news or read a newspaper at breakfast are more miserable than those who wisely maintain themselves in ignorance. Unfortunately, help for the former is not at hand: one of the main stories in the newspapers recently was that

Global warning | 2 February 2008

There is no building so hideous that it is beyond the powers of any modern architect worth his salt to design something even worse. This important truth of the science of aesthetics was borne out recently when I visited Paris and went for the first time to the Musée du Quai Branly, on the banks

Global Warning | 26 January 2008

Theodore Dalrymple issues a global warning Thank goodness I retired in time from the National Health Service: it has cut down enormously the number of forms I have to fill in. The latest proto-genocidal form sent out to employees by my erstwhile employers was called ‘a data cleanse’, though it soon became known as ‘an

Global warning | 12 January 2008

The medical profession used often to be twitted with the mortality of its own members: for if doctors knew so much, how came it that they died like everyone else? I think a more interesting question is why people who study literature for a living write so badly. After all, death is a fundamental and

Global warning | 5 January 2008

It was part of the convenience of modern life that information about agents in the area should have been immediately accessible to me at the touch of a few keys on a keyboard. Shortly thereafter, however, a rather less pleasant aspect of modernity made itself manifest: most of the agents charged their callers for calling

My goose was cooked — and it wasn’t very good

Unlike Wagner’s music, which is better than it sounds, roast goose is less good than it sounds. For a reason that I have not been able quite to fathom, it is really delicious only in Germany. Or so I, at any rate, have found. Whether this is because the Germans cook it better, or whether