Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Simon Jenkins. Twat.


No Good Boyo - a man who rightly relishes the opportunity to provoke unnecessary violence - earlier drew my attention to a highly annoying article in the Guardian, by the aforementioned Jenkins.

Jenkins writes in what he clearly thinks is a moving and evocative way of a part of Romania which is a strong contender for the title of "Europe's least developed region". Furthermore, it is on target to have a Roma majority before long; a prospect he described as "the most exciting and daunting cultural challenge in Europe" (public-school tosser weasel-speak for "I say, do you think these primitive pikeys will manage when the grown-ups are away?")

Jenkins scrupulously avoids the word "Roma" throughout, preferring the outdated and moderately offensive "Gypsy", presumably to conjure up an image of picturesque simple folk in gaily emroidered costumes playing their jolly music. He clearly has an eye for the boys too:
There is no water or sewerage and no tarmac roads. The village well and a few desultory horses and carts are attended by attractive Gypsy youths.

No water or sewerage and mainly horses for transport. Sounds just wonderful, doesn't it? But of course "simple picturesque people" like the Roma would only be spoilt if you let them share the benefits of modern society. And their 'attractive youths' might not be quite so available either. Far better to tailor aid to their modest needs:
A truly minimalist venture had a Gypsy in the village of Floresti asking for, and getting, a tiled roof over an appalling hovel shared with his wife, two horses and a mountain of manure.

We wouldn't want to remove the manure, now, would we? Old Florian has grown so fond of it, and it provides such a lovely photo opportunity and story to tell over a glass of wine back in Hampstead.

And here we touch on his true concern for the region, if not its people:
There is thus a race to save the most endangered pre-industrial landscape in Europe from poverty-stricken newcomers understandably eager for modernity. One day these villages will be as treasured as those of the Cotswolds, Provence or Umbria, but until then they must pass through the valley of the shadow of possible death.

Yes folks - tired of how overrun with braying middle-class English pillocks your favourite holiday area is? Then come to Romania and patronise some Gyppoes. They won't mind, you know, they're happy with an unmetalled road and a pile of horse-poo!

I am seriously minded to start a new charitable organisation, possibly with EU funding, to provide the Roma of Transylvania with the development they actually want. Top of the list would be a supply of AK-47s and some leaflets explaining to them how all rich English tourists in 4x4s are agents of Satan.

29 comments:

Gadjo Dilo said...

Gyppo, stimulating, but I can't totally agree with you in your condemnation of the article. The Roma may "manage when the grown-ups are away" but historically they've usually sought out "the grown ups" as they've specialised in "service trades" etc. An "appalling hovel shared with his wife, two horses and a mountain of manure" (though I strongly suspect that an adjoining wall may be in evidence) is quite common here also for Romanians (we know a lad who lives in one - he doesn't complain, though maybe we could cajole him into doing so). And Roma* youths can be very attractive, and probably wouldn't mind if the entire population of Hampstead came over and patronised them... with money :-) Well, that's my tuppence-worth, and I do at least have the advantage of living near to many Roma. But what you say is thought provoking, and it will be interesting to see what happens. I've never visited the Saxon villages so can't comment on whether they're worth preserving or not. AK-47s, eh?

* Yes, I've no idea either why he didn't use the correct term.

No Good Boyo said...

In the Name of the Senate and People of Wales, I totally and utterly discard this faux gallois. Jenkins has picked up all the bad habits of the English - a knighthood, smirk and interest in church architecture.

He has never been knowingly right about anything, and his finest moment must surely be this article in The Spectator on how al-Qaeda are no threat to lovely Europe at all, they just don't like those frightfully vulgar Americans.

http://www.spectator.co.uk/essays/11991/nothing-to-fear-but-fear-itself.thtml

The article in question was published the day of the Madrid bombings.

Mind you, an independent Rrom Rrepublic of Transylvania is just
what we need. A land without adequate dental care for a people with their own gold supply.

It beats gathering clods of earth in a lay-by near Newbury as a way of setting up a country.

Gyppo Byard said...

Gadjo bor - you have two advantages over Jenkins - being sensible, and knowing what you're talking about. I fear you are right about the way Roma gravitate to artisanship and service provision at best. Even back in the Punjab our distant ancestors were temple musicians and dancers rather than farmers or landowners. I would like to see the ancient heritage preserved, obviously (other things being equal); just not by turning it into a twee theme-park for wealthy tourists who treat the inhabitants as a human zoo.

Boyo - Can't say fairer than that. After all, you'd think an outcast from the Welch would understand the need for economic development over the picturesque.

My own Snowdonian ancestor had a rare moment of clarity in which he thought "I can either stay knee-deep in water in a slate quarry until it's time to go home and eat some seawedd, or I can move to Birmingham." The rest is history, as they say.

And don't knock the plan for a Roma Homeland next to the Newbury bypass - it would have worked if it hadn't been for those meddling kids...

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

I worked for Jenkins briefly. I cannot speak for his proclivities but his recent attraction to gypsy youths might explain why Lady Jenkins aka Gayle Hunnicutt filed for divorce last year.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Gyppo, thanks, but I's also on my own "Gyppo Journey" and certainly don't yet know it all: I see Roma working hard cleaning the streets and my wife's family have a Roma friend who's a successful (legit) businessman and who's daughter is studying to be a lawyer; on the other side, Roma nicked the vegetables my father-in-law was growing and our wheelie bin (twice). It's a prickly subject. I hope they can become successful self-sustaining farmers in this area where they're becoming a majority, it will be interesting to find out; but if it does become like a twee theme-park I suspect the wealthy visiting tourists will look more daft than the resident Roma!

Gyppo Byard said...

Daphne - was he as big a tosser as he comes over from his writing?

Gadj - Some of my best friends are English. On the other hand, someone English stole my mum's car. The same can be said for pretty much any nationality/ethnic group. Marginalise any of them the way the Roma have been marginalized, and you'll get a disproportionate amount of petty crime.

Scarlet-Blue said...

Yes folks - tired of how overrun with braying middle-class English pillocks your favourite holiday area is? Then come to Romania and patronise some Gyppoes. They won't mind, you know, they're happy with an unmetalled road and a pile of horse-poo!

Are the braying middle-class English pillocks fed up with each other?
Sx

Kerrie said...

Don't worry middle class pillocks would not visit. There wouldn't be a trouser press or a good place to plug in my hair straightners.

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

Did anyone see that documentary on BBC about Roma child thieves? I particularly liked the "King of Thieves" in his garish mansion who first bragged about what a great thief he was and then complained how he was marginalized and treated like, er, a thief. Child abuse is child abuse, I don't care what their excuse is. Drugging small children and sitting begging with them in the tube all day when they should be at school is morally wrong and illegal and they should not get away with it.

I rather liked Jenkins. He wasn't as much of a twat as Stothard. But I didn't work for him for long, and most of it by phone.

Gyppo Byard said...

Scarls - Judging from Jenkins's attitude, clearly yes. One is reminded, oddly, of Yogi Berra's maxim "Nobody goes there any more - it's too crowded."

Kerrie - Not yet. But give it time...

Daphne - One is not condoning or excusing theft by anyone. Not by Roma, not by Jenkins's banker mates helping themselves to large "bonuses" after losing millions of other people's money and being bailed out by the suckers whose money they gambled with in the first place, not by Tory MPs claiming expenses to clean their moats.

Even so, did you see that documentary about hard-working honest Roma who've moved into houses and settled into productive lives within the broader society they live in? No, I haven't either. Because nobody's ever thought of making it. The stereotype lives because people feed it.

inkspot said...

Actually rotting horse-manure gives off a lot of heat, quite a good thing in a continental winter, it means you only need a small Aga.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Gyppo, I've actually seen more programmes showing "hard-working honest Roma who've moved into houses and settled into productive lives within the broader society" than I have programmes showing them as scallies, and I happened upon them rather than sought them out, so my personal experience is at odds with yours. Many schemes have been initiated (in Romania, at least) to encourage Roma into this kind of lifestyle, but with limited success; and some Roma (e.g. the Gabor "caste") are already in it, and one of these did a very good job on our guttering).

Inkspot is spot on about the rotting horse-manure, and Daphne's surely correct to remind us that drugging small children is A Bad Idea.

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

We can't all get Romanian channels on our TVs (although it can only be a matter of time in Brussels) and I shall leave you two to slug it out, both of you having much bigger axes to grind on the subject than mine. Is it coincidental that on 1 October Jenkins is talking about formerly Germanic speaking areas of Romania and on 8 October Herta Muller wins the Nobel Prize for Literature? I think we should be told.

Gadjo Dilo said...

I really don't have an axe to grind - I was trying to be balanced. We are all very proud here about Herta Muller, though.

Gyppo Byard said...

Whoa there everyone - I'm not trying to pick a fight with anyone, let alone people who read my blog regularly and are therefore worth their weight in gold (or at least nice warm horse manure, which does command a reasonably good price). I also don't especially have an axe to grind (although I'll grind *your* axes for you at a reasonable price, and even throw in somelucky heather).

Gadjo - do tell me where I can find these programmes. I am genuinely keen to see them. I mean, there is the problem that since I have a small kid I rarely get a chance to watch anything that dioesn;'t come up on "CBeebies", so I may well have missed something. (From this perspective, drugging small children seems quite tempting sometimes, although I stress I have never used anything stronger than warm milk and a soft lullaby).

Gadjo Dilo said...

Gyppo, don't worry, I never thought you were being unnecessarily combatative - I think Daphne may have over-reacted - and I'm a loyal reader so it would take quite a lot to get rid of me! The programmes I saw were a documentary in the UK about the different countries in Eastern Europe (working gypsies figured in the Slovakia episode, if I remember correctly); and a programme here that features a family (Gabors) whose trade is (coincidentally) guttering and who also have sidelines in rap music, and the presenter is a black guy who lives in Bucharest and who's taken to his "Hey, Sandor, do you wear that hat even in the bath??" role with alacrity.

No Good Boyo said...

As a Welsh I am trying to pick a fight with everyone. I'll be by the goat trough outside the Black Horse public house, Checkendon, from 1630-1720 this afternoon, if anyone fancies a scrap.

Cheers.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Boyo, I woz there, where woz you??

Gyppo Byard said...

Gadjo - Boyo was in an ambulance (or in his case, ambwlans) on the way to A&E, on account of Cribbo Mullens having got there before you. A rematch can be arranged as soon as the splints come off.

No Good Boyo said...

It's ambiwlans, look you, and I was in two of them.

Rematch next week. Bring eels.

Yin said...

As an aside, I learned a few weekends ago that Reading is where Dunton and Sons used to build highly regarded Ledge caravans. I'll be visiting the Reading Museum to have a look but you wouldn't happen to know if any other remnants of the business are about, would you?

Gadjo Dilo said...

Caravans?? Hey lads, lets put our differences aside and go and beat up the people who like caravans! (Only joking, Mr Yin, have a nice holiday in Reading...)

No Good Boyo said...

I have it on my own good authority that Ms Yin is not only a lady, she is an oriental one. Only twins are better than that.

Oh, did I write that out loud?

Gyppo Byard said...

Yin - Forget the Reading museum, go to the BLake's Lock one next to Bel and the Dragon. That has a superb early 20th-century vardo on display. I took Djangolina to see it, having told her we were going to see our ancestral home. She tried to be annoyed but actually she was blown away by the intricate beauty of the thing.

Gadj - I trust you speak of Gaje dabblers, in which case you has a point. In truth, I'm not 100% sure any of my ancestors lived in caravans - up to the mid 19th century most Romnichal were still building hazel-twig benders, but by that point my folks had taken to the canals and were living in the butt-end of a narrowboat. ("Water Gypsies" was the vernacular term for them).

Boyo - yes, you did. Shall I send Mrs Boyo the link?

Gadjo Dilo said...

Gyppo, I'd totally forgotten that people like your ancestors may have lived in caravans and was thinking of those who drag around an oversized tin-can behind their Volvo of a weekend. I've nothing against them, mind. You probably own a Volvo. Nice cars. I've probably put my foot in it again.

Scarlet-Blue said...

My money is on Audi, Gadj.
Sx

Gyppo Byard said...

Volvo? What do I look like, a bleeding geography teacher?
And I'm too polite to own an Audi - I wanted one, but I failed the written "are you a road-hogging arse?" quiz.

We currently have two Renaults - a Megane and a Clio; although the Clio is days away from being eligible for scrappage and is about to be replaced by (probably) one of the following: a Ford Fiesta, a Fiat 500 or a SEAT Ibiza. Votes please...

Scarlet-Blue said...

I'm also a whisker away from being eligible for scrappage. So is my Peugeot... and that's why I'm not keen on the Seat - it's morphing into a Peugeot?
Sx

Gadjo Dilo said...

Gyppo, in order to redeem myself I tried to find on YouTube the Dating Agency sketch from (the hilarious) Smack The Pony which features the phrase "I want a man drives a Renault Clio", but I couldn't. How about a Peugeot 207? I drove one once and it was nice.