What’s it all about, Alfie?

Has any country ever fallen at such velocity as Britain?

Over the past 12 of 13 years, the Labour government has created a gigantic welfare/client voting block whose beneficiaries are, shall we say, low on ambition, and public housing is swilling with “single mums” with five, six, seven or more children by different fathers who have long since left the building. There are now families of three generations in which no one has ever held a job. Chavs, we call them. Their uniform, men and women, is tennis/sport shoes, sweat pants and a t-shirt.

A member in good standing of the client bloc is the father of little Alfie Patten, now 13, a wan-looking, confused little boy. Alfie’s father has been in touch with well-known publicist Max Clifford, who arranged for Alfie – supposedly the father of a week-old baby – to be featured in The Daily Mail. He hardly looks nine and his voice at the time of the supposed conception hadn’t broken. The girl in question is 15.

Alfie’s dad stepped out of his door each morning, wearing a rubber devil’s mask, to fill waiting reporters in on the latest details, presumably, as he made them up. He’s now pared it down to holding up a sign that says “No comment. Ring Max.” Alfie’s father and mother, the girl and girl’s mother have had, for the past four or five days, an adhesive and congenial relationship as they contemplate the sums of money shortly to be received.

But it emerges that Chantelle, one of the most popular chav names, seems to have been rather popular around the neighborhood, and a 16-year old trainee chef and a 14 year old boy both claim to have had sexual relations with her at around the same time. They both claimed that they, like little Alfie, had slept in Chantelle’s bedroom, with her mother’s knowledge. Other boys have since come forward … Alfie’s dad has said little Alfie is eager to take a DNA test. (Personally, I doubt that Alfie can spell DNA, never mind understand what it is.) Now, so have the other boys.

The only person in this melange who comes close to having a responsible attitude is 14-year old Tyler Barker who says he’s worried about who the father is and “I hope it’s not me”. Meanwhile,
Alfie’s dad has asked Max Clifford to get bids for Alfie to open the envelope containing the result of his DNA test on national TV.

When the “news” was first announced, little 13-year old Alfie, not an avid school attendee, was asked by the press if he intended to be financially responsible for the baby. “Wot’s financially?” he asked.

14 thoughts on “What’s it all about, Alfie?”

  1. The American media ate it up, along with the story of the octuplets in Calif., the killer chimpanzee and various missing and “missing” children. You’d almost think there’s an audience for this stuff.

  2. I apologise, Jonathan, for failing to have realised that this story would already have been fodder on this side of the Atlantic, too. Just as the British worked themselves up into a stew about the octuplet woman in CA. In an age of reality TV, how could it be otherwise, especially as the Anglosphere is so huge.

  3. What is the derivation of the word, “chav”?

    Theodore Dalrymple’s “Life at the Bottom” is a good place to turn–collected essays from the mid- and late-1990s—clearly this all started way before New Labour’s victory in 1997, and Dalrymple offers a better-nuanced theory as to why it is happening. His other stuff (“Our Culture–What’s Left of It” and “Defense of Prejudice” (I think, that may not be exactly right)) offer a whole body of essays on the subject of the collapse of the British family and social system–and a lot for Americans to ponder.

  4. Marty – He’s compelling. The pieces he wrote for, I think, The Spectator, when he was a prison doctor are very illuminating and a great read. He often writes for City Journal, if anyone wants to follow up on him. He’s a natural writer.

    The origins of the word chav aren’t clear at all – especially given that the word wasn’t even known at the beginning of this century.

  5. On “chav”, many people will tell you that it derives from the Romany word “chavi” meaning “child” or “little one”. My belief, however, is that it originated as a soubriquet for someone from the Medway town of Chatham in Kent, a grotty and insalubrious place with, apparently, the highest incidence of heroin addiction per capita of anywhere in the UK. I spent a year in the mid-Nineties living in the neighbouring town of Rochester, and I was hearing Chathamites called “chavs” long before the word came to be a general term for the underclass, which has only happened in the last decade.

    Verity, if you’re the same one as on CoffeeHouse, then ;)

  6. I had read – perhaps in a Dalrymple piece, perhaps someplace else – that Britain seems to be devolving from the tidy, polite, orderly and soberly middle-class striving place that it was by the late 19th century, into something much more like the 18th century; a rude, drunken-brawling Gin Lane kind of place, where the well-to-do live in their beautiful gated Georgian mansions and try their best to ignore the unruly, lawless, and shiftless lower-classes. Something to think about, anyway.

  7. Ditto a rave for Dalrymple’s “Life at the Bottom”, if you can bear it. Recommend all of his books, in particular “In Praise of Prejudice”.

    Recent semi-best seller: “Stewart, a Life Backward” also covers a lot of the disfunction of the UK in our time.

  8. I heard things in the U.K. were quite bad in the 70’s before Thatcher came in. The used to call it the “British Industrial Disease”. It sounds like things are returning to those conditions. Also, it is known that 70% of the economy in the U.K. outside of London and the Southeast is government supported. Since London and Sussex was based mostly in financial services, which has now cratered, it is probably safe to say that the U.K. is hosed for the foreseeable future.

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