Malcolm winces at anything that mocks the afflicted.
Simon Hoggart comes with all the best credentials: Richard Hoggart, one of the most influential social critics of the last century, as a father; King’s, as alma mater. He is quick-witted, capable of turning a well-written phrase, in speech and on paper.
One use of his Cambridge-honed critical talents has been a series of anthologies, based on the Christmas round-robin newsletters of ordinary folk. These spawned from his regular Guardian column, and continue to fill space there. Malcolm assumes this means being paid twice for merely selecting from and sneering at the well-intentioned, if banal writing of others.
So today Hoggart starts today’s Saturday column with more toe-curling stuff, in this case narrating the events of a French holiday:
“We had brought plenty of plastic bags but hadn’t put them in the car as I don’t like to use one supermarket’s bags in another, but this was our downfall as they weren’t issuing any, and we ended up using Sue’s one Co-op canvas bag and buying two at 69 cents for the rest.” Thank heavens for portable computers; otherwise he might have forgotten how much the bags cost.
How droll! My goodness, these people probably keep coal in the bath!
Then the same column concludes with this:
The other day I was in the French Alps, visiting our son who is working in a ski-chalet. The sun scorched down, the snow gleamed, the village was pretty. We were looking forward to a lift ride before walking along the ridge with its sensational views of Mont Blanc. Appetites sharp, our party of six friends and family found a restaurant which seemed to have the perfect menu for all of us. Outside, evidently happy customers were enjoying their lunch. It was 1.35. Could we join them?
The owner was sorry. It was too late. Didn’t we realise he had to work that night? He wasn’t rude; just pleased that he had got rid of more Anglo-Saxons with their wretched work ethic, who arrogantly imagine that restaurateurs should stay open for lunch. He watched with some satisfaction as we trooped up the road to a sort of brasserie, which gladly accepted the 100 or so euros we would have given him.
Malcolm is submitting that back to its onlie-true-begetter, one S. Hoggart, in the hope he finds it a place in his next selection.