Pissed-off Toff

Charity begins at home – not in the Ukraine

in Big Issues

Inspired by the French Revolution, the overwhelmingly ‘liberal’ broadcast media wish to turn all atrocities anywhere in the world into the personal concern of every one of us. Pissed-off Toff rejects this folly.

Having spent two years attempting to convince us that a relatively trivial virus was the worst catastrophe since the Black Death, and having brought about the suspension of all freedoms along with the bankruptcy of our country, the British media recently accepted, with regret, that the Covid 19 scare story had run its course. 

So what could they terrify us with next? There was, of course, the long-running ‘man-made gobal warming’ story to fall back on: okay okay, if Covid didn’t kill you all, as we were hoping it would, then ‘man-made climate change’ will. Let’s scare every child to death with that one, and boor the rest of you to tears. 

But was there no other disaster story on the menu to shove down our throats twenty-four hours a day? Some fresh apocalypse over which we could all be made to choke with rage, fear and indignation? And then – yippee! – along comes Putin’s invasion of the Ukraine. Once again the media go into hyperbolic overdrive. Like scavenging vultures, po-faced reporters and news presenters peck away at their prey, encouraging the rest of us to become voyeurs of this delicious new atrocity … and almost willing World War III to get underway. Now what a treat that would be!

In the meantime, the broadcast media must content themselves with serving up non-stop coverage of a distant conflict which concerns us not one jot. Yes, they must stir the pot as vigorously as possible, magnifying the horror and hoping that it spreads, so that they can appear on-screen in our television rooms for ever and ever, revelling in doom and gloom from dawn to dusk.

How does the narrative go so far? Well, like all other disaster stories, this is the worst thing since the world began. Putin is the devil incarnate. And the lovely Ukrainians are saints or heroes, or both. Even though this war has nothing to do with us, we – the broadcast media – must make it our business. Your business. And we will ignore the fact that the Ukraine is a corrupt and alien country about which we know nothing and whose fate is really not our concern. That’s not good enough. The pot must be stirred! Outrage must be created!! This far-flung conflict must be turned into a worldwide conflagration on which the media will feed!!!

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It comes as no surprise to learn that against this frenzied background, between 100,000 and 200,000 honest British families have been induced to offer rooms in their homes for refugees from the Ukraine. Egged on by the media to think that every single bad thing that happens anywhere in the world is our own intimate problem, a large number of decent people have made a mistake which they will soon regret.

I have made so many enemies by expressing unfashionable opinions, that I have little to lose by carrying on. Here, therefore, is what will happen to those who have invited into their own houses refugees from a distant conflict. Here, in broader terms, is what happens to those who believe in ‘universal brotherhood’ … that terrible delusion of Rousseau and the French Revolution and of every liberal idealist since.

* * * * *

You have a spare room available; a spare room which was once the bedroom of a child of yours who has left the nest, and which is now available for friends on their occasional visits. With a warm flush of virtue, you now make this bedroom available to a Ukrainian mother and her two children … the three of whom have had their lives reduced to nothing by Uncle Putin.

They arrive. The woman is traumatised, as are her children. She is emotional. The children scream. Although the BBC’s propaganda told you that you would be giving up a bedroom, that is not the half of it. No refugee woman with her two young children can be expected to stay in their room all day long. She will want to use the kitchen, frequently. And then you will realise that three times a day she likes cooking food which to you smells repugnant. Oh, and that when you want to make your own breakfast or lunch or supper, there she is.

Nor does she want to use just the kitchen. When she isn’t shouting, via her smartfone, at distressed relatives back home, she wants to watch your TV. And then the bathroom. Why should the Ukrainian woman and her children not have access to hot water? Furthermore, these people from the east of Europe like their rooms to be really, really hot. I went to Russia in the late 1970s, so I know. That was almost the only good thing that the Soviet regime could offer their slaves: cheap energy. The slaves got used to it, and your new guests will want to have the heating on at full blast the whole time.

Then there’s the language barrier. Fired by a worthy love of humanity, you did not pause to reflect that you cannot communicate with this woman and her children. They speak not one word of English … except, perhaps, ‘OK’ and ‘No problem’. So yes: in theory you love them to bits. But in practice this isn’t working, and only five days into the exercise the goodwill has run out and you are bitterly regretting your decision to be a saint.

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If, like most of my friends, you are rich and titled, none of this is an issue. You might have a cottage or two on your estate in which to put a Ukrainian woman plus children. So they won’t inconvenience you. Except when you want them to leave and they don’t want to leave; which will involve the intervention of an expensive lawyer.

But if you do not live in a large house and you do not have various empty cottages to put at the disposal of the dispossessed of the world … if you are like the vast majority of people in this country, then the decision to take in a lovely Ukrainian family will wreak havoc with your life.

You will realise that you have not just given up a spare bedroom in your house. You have bound yourself to an unknown family whose language you do not speak, whose culture you do not share, and the smell of whose food you find disgusting. But like it or not, you will have to have them there for the contracted six months. And – whisper it secretly – you will no longer give a damn that the evil Putin has destroyed the distant homes of countless inhabitants of the Ukraine. You will just want these particular Ukrainians out of your hair.

* * * * *

More and more, I distrust any form of idealism; and the more idealistic and wide-ranging the idealism is, the more I distrust it. I reject the modern insistence, championed by the media, that every problem everywhere should be my own personal concern. That burden is intolerable. So whilst in an abstract way I vaguely pity the poor Ukranians in their plight, I care a great deal more for my own friends. Charity begins at home.

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