Theodore Dalrymple

Theodore Dalrymple is one of the finest essayists in the English language, which makes him one of the best in the world in any language. A psychiatrist and former prison doctor, his real name is Anthony Daniels and chose Dalrymple as his nom de plume because “that sounded suitably dyspeptic, that of a gouty old man looking out of the window of his London club, port in hand, lamenting the degenerating state of the world.” After a certain age, sooner for some than others, who doesn’t feel like that? Even old rockers with their high foreheads and skinny ponytails who still spout Peace and Freedom bunkum from the ‘Sixties must own up in private moments to sinking spirits when they survey the state of the world. There was a news story today about the Hollywood actor Leo DiCaprio speaking before the United Nations about climate change, formerly known as global warming until it was belatedly discovered there has been no warming for 12, 15 or 25 years, depending on what computer modeling you mistrust least. DiCaprio arrived in New York aboard an Arab sheik’s Titantic-sized yacht and satisfies his other travel needs aboard private jets. Yet there he was delivering a lecture about the need to reduce man’s carbon footprint. I have never understood why actors should be regarded as authorities any more than their pool boys. If they are not reading aloud words written by someone else, most are apt to make fools of themselves, a quality they share with our hapless president when he is not reading from a Teleprompter. Dalrymple is catholic in his range and impressively prolific; I encounter him in any number of publications and websites. Today’s was about how a dislike for the Scots is rising among the mild English as a result of the recent referendum. Apparently, despite many provocations over the centuries, this is new. Having 80% of the population of the United Kingdom, the English have put up with the Scots as a bearable nuisance up to now . Their demand in the referendum was a large grant of independence while still receiving $1,100 more a year per person than other taxpayers in the union. This had been understood as a kind of bribe from Her Royal Majesty’s treasury to keep things as they were, but now that the Scots have consented to remain on board the English are belatedly realizing they have got the short end of the stick all these years. There would hardly be a Labour Party if it weren’t for the Scottish members of Parliament. It seems there are more Pandas in Scotland (two) than there are Conservatives (one). The Scots vote on legislation that impacts on the English, but the opposite is not true. Dalrymple’s admirably short and precise essay on the subject is here:

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