30 APRIL 1954, Page 17


By ISABEL QUIGLY NEW race is coming into being. You cannot quite say it is being born, the process is too slow, and besides, when I try to work it further, the metaphor is too involved. Slowly but steadily a new race of people is evolving I suppose the internationals vary a bit, and a UNO employee in New York is not quite like an FAO man in Rome; and UNESCO I imagine have their private idiosyncrasies, and at The Hague they probably have their legal quirks. I can talk only of Genevan internationals, but I imagine, from the ease with which they seem to move about, that life is pretty interchangeable in atmosphere for the internationals, wherever, internationally speaking, they go. There must always be that air that spreads around an uneasy guest of impending but not quite decided departure; or at least the feeling of being In an elaborate encampment that is never quite home : in this case a city of which you cannot quite say that the natives are friendly, or that they are exactly unfriendly. he was born with it, for his own has grown rusty and no acquired language is like a tongue from childhood—seems to me almost like a loss of, say, family or faith, something. at any rate, that should not be let go lightly. Nationality, and race may be abused, but they are priceless and personal things to start off with; and you may perfectly reasonably believe in the brotherhood of man and yet hope that Chinamen will stay Chinese and not become jaundiced Europeans. A sense of the brotherhood of man does not exclude, I think, a feeling that, when it comes down to sympathy, you may like one brother a good deal more than another. When six blonde and beautiful Swedes arrived in London a while ago on some kind of goodwill mission one of the most fraternal and unnationalistic men I know shook his head. " The more I see of Swedish beauty queens," he said sadly, " the more I like the remoter parts of Sicily." That is the sort of amiable prejudice you miss in Geneva, where every effort is made to telescope the startling difference between Swedish and Sicilian notions of beauty, and of everything else.

Those whose idiosyncrasies of birth have been ironed out seem to me the victims, not the heroes, of internationalism. Even a perpetual sense of exile seems preferable to the absolute homelessness of the nationally neutral. Conditions, example, everything here encourages the blurring of national distinc- tions. English is generally spoken, even by many English people, with some sort of American accent. It is remarkable how quickly people pick it up: an old friend I had not seen for some years greeted me the other day with a strong Canadian accent, acquired, she explained, and not deliberately acquired, from working with Canadians for two years. to E16-£20 here. Admittedly life is about twice as expensive, but even so there is a cosy enough margin, if not for mink coats and Daimlers, at least for Topolinos and weekend ski-ing. That, of course, tends to separate the internationals and the non-Swiss who are not employed ,in the international agencies. " There are two scales of pay," I was told when I arrived, "Palais pay, and ordinary pay "—which means . that international standards of entertainment, of housing, and so on, are rather too opulent for non-Palais people to compete with. (Non-Palais people never talk of ' nationals,' but always of Palais people, Palais salaries, or, jn an envious sweep, of the Palais racket: the Palais, of course, being the Palais des Nations, set on a hill on the edge of Geneva, with the country coming up to its back doorstep) On English people, and especially women, foreign living and an unaccustomed number of servants often has, even today, that curious effect of the haughty absurdity no one can afford to indulge in England. A woman last week was talking rapid French to our rather flustered maid. " She's German, you know," we told her when the girl had gone. " but she speaks very good English." " Oh," said the woman, swelling to the scale of Largelady Park, " I never speak English to servants. It makes them so uppish." In the home of the United Nations. .

But the real separation is, very often, between people here and the life they have left behind them. The high material standards they have grown used to often cut off escape from a life they may not even find particularly congenial. I was talking the other day to a girl who, at twenty-four, won a competitive job here, and, from a bed-sitting room life of coaching and midnight-oil research, has jumped to a luxury flat, a car, and the pleasant accessories a single person with, even by international standards, a fair salary can indulge in. " Funny I'm here for thirty-five years," she said, looking round at it all; and there was a wistful tone, for all the undoubted interest of her work, at the thought of a life settled and stiff from twenty-four onwards. More junior people come and go. That shorthand typist, for all her £16 a week, often packs up and goes home to Brighton after a year or two. Why 7 " I don't know," said a young translator, who is just off to England for good, having given up the job here, and with nothing particular in mind to go to. " It's just that—well, it's been fun, the money and all that, but . . . does anyone honestly like being all international ? " There it is; here in Geneva at least it often gets back to that. Perhaps this is the difference between internationals in one centre or another: that, fir all the rather displaced air internationals anywhere must find, some 'countries can appear to take a visitor in, and some cannot. And Switzerland, beautiful though it is scenically, civilised and even attractive though it may seem to those who have suffered disorder or oppression, does not, on the whole, attract foreigners—par- ticularly English people—in the warmhearted way some places do. A fortnight's ski-ing holiday is no test: I mean people who try to live here. I never saw anyone colour up with pleasure at remembering a piece of Switzerland: there is respect, even liking perhaps, but no enthusiasm. But Switzerland is only the camping ground: it is the camp itself that counts. The extent of its organisation comes home to you hard if you visit the International School, where, in French and English, five hundred pupils, a large number of them the children of internationals, are taught on a syllabus which, it is hoped, will soon be interchangeable with that of other international schools in other international centres. Bi-lingual, tri-lingual, all of them, they are admirably placed. those children, for international posts when they grow up themselves. Will there, in two or three generations, be a race of high intelligence, polyglot, without the tiresome pulls of home or little local habits to distract them; with communal appetites, wide though not passionate sympathies, and physically and psychologically adapted to live, with other internationals and no noticeable change of atmosphere, in Rome or in Paris, in The Hague or New York ? The problems expatriation, after all, are not new. Diplomats have had em always with them, and colonisers and soldiers have had `13 struggle with questions of climate and education on their "Avn. But on this far larger scale the problems of everyday !Ire settled: it is just the larger question of what he wants from 1.11s life and for his children, that each man has to cope with or himself.