“Modern Day Slavery” and Jamie Oliver

Evening Standard 14th February

“A church pastor is facing jail after trafficking children into Britain and keeping them as servants in her home in a case described as “modern day slavery”, it can be revealed today.  Buki, who arrived in 1997, was supposed to be continuing her education in Britain but was never sent to school and was forced to wait on Adeniji’s own children. Her day started at 5am and she was not allowed to bed until 1am.”
Jamie Oliver in The Observer 13th February
“When it comes to the 16- to 20-year-olds we see at the moment, I’ve never experienced such a wet generation.  I’m embarrassed to look at British kids. You get their mummies phoning up and saying: ‘He’s too tired, you’re working him too hard’ – even the butch ones.  You need to be able to knock out seven 18-hour days in a row … I had that experience. By 13, I’d done 15-hour days in my dad’s pub.”
And you try and tell the young people of today that ….. they won’t believe you.

8 thoughts on ““Modern Day Slavery” and Jamie Oliver

  1. The story of the church pastor really does leave me feeling numb. The old question returns – how could someone not have known or been suspicious? What wickedness lies within someone that they can see some people as precious and others as sub-human? In this day and age, do we really have such blind faith in perceived authority figures that we don’t question them?

    I’ve just watched ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ and am feeling slightly fragile after that. I find that any unpleasantness concerning children makes my stomach churn and makes me want to hug my boys to me and never let them go.

  2. It is a horrible case, and I probably shouldn’t be using it to make a rather facetious point about J. Oliver.

    I don’t think there’s ever any shortage of people who – for whatever reason – have a very limited capacity to empathise with others and they are often also exceptionally good at getting what they want. In normal circumstances this just results in low level bullying at school or work, but in the wrong circumstances it can lead to something much worse.

    Or – thinking of Auden – “I and the public know/What all schoolchildren learn/Those to whom evil is done/Do evil in return.” I think that’s a half truth, at any rate.

  3. Backwater, Wartime,
    Usually I don’t mind Jamie Oliver, but to describe the current generation of young people as ‘wet’ is, well, pretty wet.

    I encounter 100s of young people through my work as a lecturer, all of various qualities, and in general I’d say that they are an overworked, stressed generation. I feel sorry for them. They have it much harder than I had. Much more aggressively targeted by advertisers than I remember my own generation being. Many forced to work in low-paid jobs to put themselves through education and then saddled with a mountain of debt before their 21st birthday.

    Still, I suppose being millionaire, celebrity restauranteur brings its own pressures.

  4. Rab

    Good to hear from you. Yes, I agree with you about this, which is why I found J.O.’s comments so annoying. I have a 15 year old daughter, and if I found J.O. was making her work seven 18 hour shifts on the trot I wouldn’t just ring him up I think I’d pop round and give him a swift hack in the slats.

    Another little vignette of how today’s educational system works for you (as I’m sure you know). A girl who lives a couple of doors away from me has got a place at the Royal Veterinary College. Her father works on the nightshift in a local factory and her mother’s a dinner lady. Exactly the kind of person everyone says ought to be encouraged to go to University.

    She commutes into London every day from Harborough, which as I know to my cost (because I do it myself) takes about two and a half hours door to door, costs just under £700 a month and is frankly exhausting. I assume she’s doing this because it is still cheaper than trying to support herself in London. And that’s before even thinking about tuition fees. On top of that she sometimes does a shift in Rymans at the weekends. I don’t know which course she’s doing, but if it’s the full qualification to be a vet I believe she’ll have to keep this up for 5 years.

    I suppose this explains why it costs so much to get your cat seen to these days.

  5. Rab: I suppose it depends on what area of life you’re discussing. I have no love for Jamie Oliver, but the thing that strikers me about many people, and not just the young, is they have so few practical skills and not very much focus, backbone or stamina. This is generalising a bit, I know, but it certainly applies to many people that I know.

    Regarding education, young people seem to be under an enormous amount of pressure to pass too many exams, in subjects that consequently have less depth, that don’t seem to enrich their lives to any great degree and don’t even give them a better chance of getting a decent job. This is not their fault and it will have to be addressed at some point.

    On a practical level, many stay at home for too long, allowing their parents to do everything for them, they don’t learn to cook, make things or mend things, and often don’t seem to have much interest in the world outside their own sphere of existence. Concentration is limited and success often measured by how quickly it can be obtained. Parents have to address these things from an early age, otherwise the succeeding generations will be infantilised and ill-equipped for the slings and arrows blah blah blah.

  6. Wartime,
    When you say that the young (and others) ‘have so few practical skills and not very much focus, backbone or stamina’, I sort of agree with you. But then I’m inclined to ask, ‘Why would they have those sorts of qualities?’ Especially when flexibility in work and the ability to endlessly reinvent oneself through shifting patterns of consumption are considered key attributes these days. In a sense they are perfectly equipped for the world they live in, where in Marx’s well-worn phrase, all that is solid melts into air.

    I get so frustrated with them sometimes but it’s not really ‘them’ that I have a problem with, its the social environment that they live in and have to cope with that should be real target of my vitriol. Actually, I find that many of them are deeply disillusioned with and frightened off the world and times they find themselves in also.

    Your point about kids staying at home too long and how they are infantilising is one entirely concur with. It’s one of the main reasons I get a strange urge to break windows and burn things everytime I think about student fees, because fees have forced students to live at home for longer, like Backwater’s neighbour, and be dependent on their parents for longer. That must be an exhausting journey for the young woman.

    Now I hear that the Adam Smith Institute want to lower the minimum wage for young people, so that they might be more ‘attractive’ to employers. Still, that should delight Jamie Oliver. Long hours and low pay. It’s positively Dickensian.

  7. Can’t argue with any of that which is why, as parents, we have to give them as many skills as we can when they’re young and compliant so they don’t get overloaded later.

    And as for ASI suggesting lowering the minimum wage – that’s just sick (and not in a modern parlance good way).

  8. Was/is there a time when kids are compliant? Oh no, I think I missed that period with the two wee Rabs. They seemed to walk out of nappies and turned immediately into teenage-mutants.

    Also, ‘sick’ has a good meaning in modern parlance? Why do young people insist on reversing the meaning of words? Baaah!

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