November 22, 2014
To the grand Herrera house on the Upper East Side of Manhattan for lunch in honor of Lord and Lady Linley. David Linley is over here to receive an award for his designs, which even rubes like myself where furniture is concerned find wonderful. Princess Margaret’s son is talented, but he’s also a very nice man. His parents must have done something right because he’s lived a scandal-free life—as has his sister—something other British royals cannot claim. He also earns his own living, as rare among royals as a neoconservative Marine.
My hostess, Carolina Herrera, is the best fashion designer in America, by far. She and her husband were very close to Princess Margaret, and David and Serena stay with them whenever they’re in the Big Bagel. It was a fun lunch, with editors of glossy magazines, princes of no longer existing monarchies, a very pretty English lady assistant to Linley, and so on. The latter told me how Marie-Christine of Kent once said of Linley, “Who cares what a carpenter thinks?”—forgetting, as the fabulist who claims to be related to royals who are unaware of it tends to do while putting her ungainly large foot in it, that our Lord Jesus was a carpenter himself.
Looking around, it struck me that there were no Americans present. This was not by design, but in today’s money-comes-first society, some of our recently minted billionaires are not exactly house-trained, hence their absence. (They have little education, absolutely no taste, and not the slightest perception of refinement or beauty.) Mind you, the English have always reserved their praise of Americans for dancing girls, blues singers, and god-awful rappers who offer British “artists” no serious competition.
I’m afraid this is true. There is a fundamental aversion to anything American in Britain, although the worse the product that comes out of the home of the depraved, the quicker the Brits adopt it. Our own Paul Johnson has always touched upon this. The sneering, the obnoxious condescension, the antipathy toward anything American reached its highest point during the Thatcher-Reagan years. The more the Iron Lady copied Reagan’s Cold War policies, the more the left jeered and shouted. Which brings me to the “special relationship,” as it’s called, that of the UK and the U.S.A.
I recently came upon a book about the special relationship between JFK and Supermac, titled Harold and Jack. The author, Christopher Sandford, called it a remarkable friendship, which I find to be stretching it quite a lot. Sure, JFK liked old Harold, and was even related by marriage to him, but JFK was no fool. He knew Britain was in decline and being strangled by the unions and hardly the world power that many still considered it to be.
First and foremost, personal ties do not count when it comes to national interests. I remember Macmillan being interviewed and recounting how JFK had told him in Nassau that if he didn’t make love daily he got terrible headaches as a result. (This is after JFK’s assassination.) Macmillan thought that incredible and if memory serves, he even made fun of the way Kennedy pronounced schedule, as “sckedule.” See what I mean by condescension? I grew up with English toffs sometimes making fun of my Americanisms, something I wouldn’t give up for the world, as they say.