Magazine article The Spectator

Silent Nights

Magazine article The Spectator

Silent Nights

Article excerpt


New York

A very long time ago, the great Greek philosopher Taki decreed that, in marriage, loyalty should not be confused with fidelity. In other words, one can be a faithful hubby but a lousy spouse, just as a cheating Don Juan can be a hell of a loving husband. My father was happily married to my mother for 58 years, but to describe him as faithful would be like calling Peter Mandelson normal. He was faithful to her in his fashion, and, according to Confucius, that's the path to true marital bliss.

But let's forget about the Chinaman and stick to the great Greek philosopher's musings: a woman should never, ever demand to know the truth where sex is concerned. The best way to hurt someone you love is to tell the whole truth and nothing but. In Europe, when a man tells a woman exactly what went through his mind when he was with another, we call it cruelty or kinkiness. Roger Vadim, the French director and discoverer of Brigitte Bardot (now filming up above), excelled in pillow-talk about other lovers. All three of his wives cuckolded him. I am only a poor little Greek boy, but I suspect it had something to do with it. Candour, that is.

In America, spilling the beans is called sincerity. The trouble with sincerity is the human animal. It is the most insecure of species, ergo we have invented devious ways and means to put this animal more at ease. The withholding of information, fabrication of fact, or whatever one chooses to call it, makes the object of that deceit more comfortable. In the late Sixties and Seventies, when group therapy encouraged the discussion of feelings, closeness and the importance of shared experiences, many Americans underwent a total change of personalities. A great many marriages went down the drain because one partner (dread word) or the other, in an excess of sentimentality, decided to confess. The Roman Catholics, very sensibly, confess to someone they can't see sitting in a box.

Needless to say, the so-called sexual liberation has done nothing to lessen the pain of jealousy. Only a measured use of untruth helps. One of the reasons the Don, as in Giovanni, at times appears as an unsympathetic fellow is because he was much too blatant in the chase. …

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