A tale of two immigrants.
A while back I visited the offices of a well-off City institution. The man at the desk, in the usual green uniform, was from west Africa, I would deduce, and probably Francophone west Africa. His English was utterly inadequate to carry out the task required – identify me, identify who I was visiting and tell the latter I had arrived.
His attitude wasn’t much better. After a while he managed to call the person I was seeing. “Meester Martin, Ee ‘ere.”
It is hard not to get annoyed with that City institution. The man was cheap, presumably, and entirely unsuited to the job. He was keeping out of it someone who, indigenous Londoner or aspiring immigrant, would plainly have been better at it. There is no huge shortage of people prepared to do that work, even in London. You just have to pay them a decent wage.
Daughter is at University. When she arrived, she discovered the Indian shop around the corner. This sold the usual groceries in anti-social hours, but the matriarch of the family also had a line in home-cooked takeaway curries in Tupperware.
These, remarkably cheap, were much appreciated by hard-up students and were a welcome source of nourishment for those who had just left home.
Sadly, the family decided to sell up. Their son, a middle-class professional, had no wish to take over the business. To mark the retirement, they held a street party. The road was closed, the entire college went along. The owner made an emotional speech. He did not want to give up but had been persuaded he and his wife could no longer cope with the work or the long hours.
He was 80.