A TV News crew outside a house in Chiswick, West London. Charon is reporting for CrisisNews, a 24 hour television news service.
“This afternoon I interviewed a young mother, who lives in a desirable residential area of Chiswick in West London, about the growing crisis hitting young professionals who are finding it increasingly difficult to get domestic staff. She told me, before she suffered a severe and distressing attack of hyperventilation ten minutes ago, that the crisis was spiralling out of control, that it was almost impossible to find domestic staff now in West London and that her nanny had just walked out without giving notice. Her doctor has just arrived. We were able to film the car pulling up and going into the gated estate… but we have had no word since on her condition.”
Newscaster: Charon, have we any word on the whereabouts of the nanny?
Charon: John… No… we phoned the manager of the agency … but he declined to give an interview and… so far… the nanny has not been traced.
Newscaster: Charon… this is a fairly recent crisis isn’t it?
Charon: Yes, John. Until recently the supply of migrant labour from Eastern Europe has been more than sufficient to keep up with demand … but now… young men and women from the former Warsaw Pact countries are setting up building and plumbing businesses almost as soon as they arrive on our shores and that has brought a whole raft of quite different problems within the building trade.
Newscaster: Charon… I have to interrupt… we are going live to our Westminster studio to talk to Horatio Hornblower MP who is taking personal charge of this growing crisis.
Newscaster: Good afternoon Mr Hornblower. Welcome to CrisisNews. Clearly there is a crisis. What is the government doing about it?
Horatio Hornblower MP, Minister without portfolio: This government believes in direct action. Gordon Brown took personal charge over the flooding crisis and, more recently, the Foot & Mouth crisis. I have been asked by the Prime Minister to look into this matter specifically, and generally, to see how we, as a government, can achieve optimality in the labour market to ensure supply equals demand and meets the needs of the British people.
Newscaster: Mr Hornblower… only six months ago a report by independent think-tank GrowWealthOffshore warned the government that the supply of cleaners, drivers, gardeners and nannies was not sufficient to meet demand. We are now seeing a growing crisis of confidence among the professional classes who say the government are just not doing enough. Only this afternoon… a young mother in Chiswick collapsed when her nanny walked out and she had to call her husband at his office in Canary Wharf. The husband is now being rushed back to his house to comfort his wife and, we understand, it is possible that a multi-billion arms deal may be prejudiced at what cost, no-one yet knows, to the country.
Horatio Hornblower MP: John… It is early days and we are examining a range of contingency options to put in place. The PM has convened a meeting of COBRA and the matter will be reviewed in a careful and considered way. We are in talks with our counterparts in former Eastern Europe to examine the possibility of extraditing…sorry…. encouraging… more of their highly trained labour force to come to the United Kingdom.
Newscaster: But will this not just be another quick fix to solve immediate needs before the press and media move on to the next crisis?
Horatio Hornblower MP: This Labour government is building traction on the basis of acting quickly, but in a measured and considered way, to solve problems. We accept that there is, clearly, a problem, and it will be dealt with.
Newscaster: I’m sorry Mr Hornblower…I’m going to have to cut you off… reports are coming in of flooding caused by a burst watermain in Chiswick and we have to return to our correspondent at the scene.
Newscaster: Charon… I can see that you are standing ankle deep in flood waters, wearing fisherman’s waders, in Turnham Green Terrace. How bad is it?
Charon: John.. it is bad. I have not seen flooding like this … in this part of London … ever. Local shopkeepers and restauranteurs want to know how a badly installed central heating system, at a house just up the road from here, could cause so much damage and destruction. Apparently a young woman who used to be a nanny decided that there was more money to be made in plumbing. She misread the installation instructions for the main boiler system.
This is Nick Charon… for CrisisNews … reporting from Chiswick, West London.