Magazine article The Spectator

Dear Mary

Magazine article The Spectator

Dear Mary

Article excerpt

Q. My niece is employed as a nanny by a well-known media couple who are ostentatiously New Labour. They are forever writing about their working-class origins, and one would therefore expect them to be considerate employers. However, the opposite is the case and their treatment of my niece is reminiscent of slave labour. The wife overwhelms her with domestic tasks such as shopping at the delicatessen, preparing meals for dinner parties and clearing up after their famous guests have departed. Also, on a rare occasion when she was ill, her wages were immediately stopped. She adores the children and they adore her and they would be most distressed were she to leave. She tells me that other nannies experience similar difficulties with high-profile New Labour couples. She has too much integrity to publicly expose their hypocrisy. Could you suggest a way in which she might reacquaint them with the values they write so prolifically about but practise so grudgingly?

S.J. W., Ludgershall

A. Your niece should start to keep a detailed diary of her day. It should be written in unresentful, shattered-but-cheerful style. After a week she should present a specimen to her employers, saying guilelessly, `One of your media friends who came to dinner, I can't remember which one, said I ought to contact the person who commissions "A Day in the Life" in the Sunday Times magazine because I have such an interesting job working for wellknown people. Do you think this is the sort of thing they would be interested in reading? …

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