July 30, 2016

Source: Bigstock

Rosa Monckton is married to my old editor at The Spectator, Dominic Lawson, and they have two girls. Before I go on about them, Rosa was a close friend of Princess Di’s, and one who never spilled any beans about her. I once had a good laugh with Rosa over the stuff written about Diana and her Egyptian so-called boyfriend, who died with her in Paris. Rosa knew the truth and I think I did too, but let’s leave it at that. Those who will go to any lengths for self-promotion will always be with us. Diana was a gift from God for them, and everyone knows how the jackals feasted on the “last romance” for their own benefit. It is now close to twenty years, so no use naming them. They’re a miserable self-promoting lot without shame or principles—the less said, the better.

Rosa and Dominic’s older daughter, Domenica, suffers from Down’s syndrome and is now based in Brighton. I remember well when she was born and how her parents did their utmost to bring her up in a normal manner. Close to where I live in Gstaad is a school for children with disabilities, namely Down’s syndrome, and throughout the years the school has brought the small children around and I’ve come into contact with them. One thing one never reads about Down’s children is how absolutely sweet-natured they are. The reason for this is to prevent other disabled children from being seen as not as nice. Which is understandable, but doesn’t stop the fact that Down’s makes kids very, very sweet. Call it my theory, but there you have it. I always ask Rosa about Domenica when we meet.

“I cannot think of a better or more useful charity.”

Rosa has now begun a charity, the aim of which is to get people with learning disabilities into employment. But before I go on, a bit of background about Dominic Lawson and charities in general. Dominic was my third editor at The Spectator—Fraser Nelson is my seventh and saintliest of bosses, as I always refer to the editor I happen to be writing for at the moment—and upon being named editor following Charles Moore, the first call he received was from the Israeli ambassador, who congratulated him for being the first Speccie editor of the Jewish faith. He then recommended my immediate firing. Dominic thanked him but refused to fire Taki. He discreetly never told me the end of the story, but I assume the ambassador was not pleased. (He probably got over it once the settlers grabbed some more Palestinian land.)

As far as charities are concerned, we now have philanthropic overkill. Please don’t get me wrong. There is nothing finer than philanthropy, but the reason for my concern is that so many celebrities and self-promoters have embraced charities in order to project themselves. Charity, in fact, did more for rich peoples’ ascent in society during the 1980s than the benevolence of emperors and kings who distributed lands and titles during the late 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.

What better way to stand up and be noticed than by paying 100,000 big ones to sit down at the big table at the Met Gala? Space prohibits me from naming the nouveaux riches who are now considered “society” and who rose in this manner, but again, it was all for a good cause. Except that most of the moola goes into the staging of the charitable event and the overpriced celebrity who entertains.

Rosa’s will, of course, be nothing like that. There will be a supported employment course that runs for one year, a training café, and an employment agency. It will launch in September in Brighton. There is only a link for the moment—the website comes later—and it is: www.teamdomenica.com. I cannot think of a better or more useful charity.

Last week was my last one in the Alps—I am heading for that EU-induced miracle, Greece, and I attended a dinner party given by Lizzie and Barry Humphries that I shall not soon forget. It was in honor of the star violinists of the Australian Chamber Orchestra—who surf in shark-infested waters in their spare time—Richard Tognetti and his Finnish wife, Satu Vanska. (Her sister was also cute.) They, their orchestra, and Barry are appearing July 29 at Cadogan Hall, and if you read this on time, don’t miss it. They were incredible here in Gstaad, playing only Bach, but all Bachs—nephews, sons, fathers, and so on. Both Richard and Satu (I am on a first-name basis, natch) are terrific artists, and they were carrying their Stradivariuses in their backpacks. (Can’t leave millions of dollars’ worth of instruments lying around, especially in Gstaad.) The other surprise guest was Victoria Tennant, a girl I once knew before she became a star opposite Robert Mitchum in The Winds of War. (Pugs Club is named after her romantic movie interest, Pug Henry.) Vicky is now married to Kirk Stambler, a movie producer, and had brought along one of her children, an intellectual child who will go to St. Andrews this autumn, and who looked at me in the manner of a scientist studying a test tube (that faraway, detached, but interested look). The Humphries chalet is all white inside, decorated with beautiful Austrian paintings. It was a perfect setting for a drink. And drink I did. See you among the migrants swimming the Aegean.


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