August 31, 2012

Grasse, France

Grasse, France

Andrew Neil’s house is in Grasse, light-years away from the brothel that the coast has become. Cannes, Nice, and their environs are now fleshpots where narcotics and sleaze, wrapped up in glitz for their Russian and Arab clients, are flourishing. Not up in the hills, where Grasse, Mougins, Opio, Ch”teauneuf, and Saint-Paul-de-Vence are located. The vulgar set wants to be by the sea, leaving the high ground to us. The new barbarians do not get it. Thank God.

We have a yearly lunch that commemorates Napoleon’s birthday on August 15th. The spot where he bivouacked on his first night ashore after escaping from Elba is located on Andrew’s garden. But my host got one thing wrong in his speech. He forgot to mention that at Waterloo it was Blücher who carried the day for Wellington, and if the Prussian hadn’t arrived the Iron Duke would have been picking up leaves in Hyde Park for the duration. I tried to intervene but was booed by the mostly British crowd, as one-sided a bunch as I’ve come across in a very long while. Even my next question was drowned out by boos. “Why can’t you Brits ever fight a war one on one?” (Because then they’d win as often as the Italians.)

Having thanked my host and hostess, I then made my excuses and left for the airport, destination Gstaad, a large warm bed, and a hell of a lot of cows—both two-legged and four-legged ones. The farmers are making hay and storing it for the winter. The men sit on the tractors; the women do the heavy lifting. This is German-speaking Switzerland, a place that has its priorities right.

An American lady whose children attend the Kennedy School asked me about this. She is a very nice woman, so I kept my mouth shut for once. “Who are we foreigners to interfere with such a quaint tradition?” was all I said. American pioneer women worked and fought alongside the men, at least according to Hollywood westerns. Here, in a Hollywood Sound of Music setting, women work alongside the men. The feminists in America might not like it, but that’s too bad. The farmers up here have never read The Female Eunuch. They’ve been too busy reading Wittgenstein and Kierkegaard.



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