March 25, 2010
The “fin de saison” feeling is like the end of term in boarding school. Bittersweet. At school one was cocooned from the big bad outside world, here in Gstaad, far from the crowds and bustle, one has time to ponder the melting snows and dream about one’s youth. Closing day at the Eagle club was fun. At the Taki Cup presentation—the overall winner and new record holder was John Taki, in 36 minutes—I reminded the members that the Taki Cup has lasted longer than both world wars combined, which means it is a far more important historical event. Some Belgian people agreed.
Yep, cocoon is the operative word around these parts. Snow conditions, the weather, our blood pressure and other such weighty subjects are what concerns us. The world is going to hell but here it is spring snow that takes precedence over world hunger or the siege of Gaza. Back in no longer merry old England things have never looked grimmer, yet a card from a loyal Speccie reader, Richard Humphrey, gives me some food for thought. In it he includes a letter dated Oct. 13 1940, and the address is 39 South Mossley Hill Rd. Liverpool. It is addressed to My dear cousin Mary from her cousins and it includes such gems as “At times we get terrible gun fire but so far we have had no damage with bombs….we have given up going to bed at night…but everybody around here is keeping very busy, knitting and going to first aid classes. Oh, I might mention our beautiful Cathedral has had one or two knocks but I am pleased to say it is not very badly damaged. Dear Mary, I don’t think I will be able to send you your usual pudding and mincemeat as we are not able to get the fruit to make a lot.”
Makes one want to scream, doesn’t it, how incredibly rude of cousin Mary’s cousins not to bake the pudding while the bombs are falling. Strength, discretion, honor, all the things we so value today but missing back then. Right? Wrong with a capital W, but what the hell. The neglect of real priorities in Britain would make me weep if I were British, but being Greek makes it so much better—as long as there’s Germany around, that is. Friends ask me time and again why I no longer live in London. Well, back in the seventies things like the three-day week were bad but one somehow felt things could not go on as they were. And they didn’t. What happened was Margaret Thatcher. Lady T sure had her priorities right. Unlike the Blair-Brown gang, she did not bribe her way to power, in fact she did the opposite. And she did it so well the country lived off the fat for twenty years after those very great men brought her down. Now somebody has to pay but no one’s willing to reach for the bill. Brits have always been slow on the draw, but this is ridiculous. People are striking to keep their bloated earnings, and one in four is permanently unemployed and happy to be so because of benefits. Good old England and her people, just like cousin Mary’s lot.
But there’s always Dave. The reason his polls went down was that he told a few truths, and telling a truth to a modern Brit is instant seppuku. Now he’s reverted to type and tells people what they want to hear. Voters the world over like to hear anything but the truth, that’s why I’ve never been much of a democrat and count Franco, Pinochet and Metaxas among my heroes. And just look at Switzerland, God’s country as far as I’m concerned, because it is the only nation that practices direct democracy starting at hamlet level. In 1992, after a referendum, the Swiss refused the Circe-like calls to join the EU and become slaves to the crooks of Brussels. But the Swiss made it clear they wished to come to good terms with the buraucrooks and have bent over backwards to accommodate the sob’s ever since. The EU, of course, is a purely administrative construct, diametrically opposed to direct democracy, which means it will do anything to hurt good old Helvetia. At the UN last summer there was a motion tabled to dismantle Switzerland and divide up the pieces among her neighbors! Thank God it didn’t pass but the thought was there.
See what I mean about democracies? They are nothing of the kind, just a bunch of bureaucrats who are too fat and gouty to wear military uniforms and boots but surreptitiously act in a way even Uncle Joe would not dare to back in the good old days. Stalin, after all, did not abolish smoking, nor did he install health and safety rules. (So a few people were sent to winter sports places like the Gulag.)
All joking aside, like Douglas Mac Arthur, I shall return to London on May 15 because I’m giving a book party at Brooks’s on Monday the 17, where I also plan to finally wed the deputy editor of the Spectator, now that her father, Sir Humphrey Wakefield, and the sainted editor, Fraser Nelson, have given their approval. All the Speccie columnists are invited, as well as all the editors, but I’m bringing my own priest from Mount Athos. The ceremony will follow the book party and the happy couple will finally spend their wedding night at the Ritz which happens to be next door. Yipeee!