November 03, 2010
When I read the Fellowes interview I passed it on to a lady who never uses her title and has impeccable manners: namely, the mother of my children. She looked confused. “Is this a joke?” she asked. “Nobody says things like this any more.” Well, yes they do; some, that is. Promoting one’s own poshness is one reason for it; social insecurity is another. The reason Princess Pushy is so pushy—she orders people, nice people who say “Hello” in a friendly manner, to address her as HRH—is because she comes from an obscure Austrian background without any cachet whatsoever. Hence the snobbishness. And speaking of the lady in question, some of you might remember that last year, during the Wimbledon final between Federer and Roddick, I had revealed how all the tiny éclairs in the Royal Box had suddenly gone missing—devoured by her. Last week another disaster took place, this time in the Berkeley Square Pavilion of Art & Design. Suddenly all the crudités were gone, as our Marie Christine was seen emptying tray after tray of the stuff in front of astounded personnel.
Snobbishness such as the type afflicting the Fellowes is probably worse than bad manners. I cannot tolerate slobs such as Alan Sugar and Philip Green, but it’s because they put on bad manners for effect. Don’t tell me these two little Jewish boys who came up poor and learned all the tricks early on do not know how to act properly. If there was money in it they would, but I suppose they choose to act like pigs for a macho image. Ironically, when Maggie Smith came to lunch at the Spectator a couple of years ago, she was seated next to me, and we had nonstop laughs although we had never met before. I began flirting with her, and she told me to finish up “that ghastly pink thing you have in your mouth.…” Maggie is not only a trouper but also a real Dame, and as everyone knows, there is nothing like a Dame, nothing in the world. I have not seen her in Downton Abbey because I choose to live away from Londonistan, in Tel Aviv-on-the-Hudson, but she was terrific in Gosford Park, another Julian Fellowes creation. What amazes and surprises me is why this incredibly talented man Fellowes can make such dumb pronouncements. The next thing we know, he and his wife—who sounds far worse than him—will be suing some poor souls for having tipped their soup plate toward them and having held their forks like pencils. I can see the letter now. A typical lawyer’s epistle threatening to freeze the hearts of those poor souls who committed those social solecisms: “My clients have suffered shock, pain, emotional, psychiatric, psychological, and mental distress as well as injuries….” Come on, get off it, Fellowes, you’re giving your insecurities away as if you were the All England Club’s éclairs.