Magazine article The Spectator

What a Sorry Lot

Magazine article The Spectator

What a Sorry Lot

Article excerpt

I'm in London on my way to Cowes for the jubilee of the America's Cup. I shall be staying with my old friend Gianni Agnelli, that most charismatic of tycoons - in fact, the last tycoon. It is a funny thing, but modern-day CEOs leave a lot to be desired where personality and charisma are concerned. When I think of Jimmy Goldsmith, Lord Hanson, Gianni Agnelli, Aristotle Onassis, Jock Whitney, Bill Paley, Guy de Rothschild and others of their ilk, and compare them with today's sorry lot I want to curse the day Marc Rich was born. What a bunch of wankers. Bill Gates, Henry Kravis, Ron Perelman, Richard Branson ... the list is long but without style or substance.

Mind you, it's not just the business world. Just look at Hollywood. Once upon a time there was Gary Cooper, tall, elegant, soft-spoken, lover of beautiful women, a real man. Now we have a midget like Tom Cruise, grungy, inarticulate and a control freak. In the literary world, ditto. Papa Hemingway, Norman Mailer, Robert Ruark, John O'Hara, Scott Fitzgerald, two-- fisted drinkers, hell-raisers, womanisers and stylists, as opposed to, well, you know who I mean, those soi-disant magic realists whose names are very well known but whose books remain unread. Not to mention newspaper tycoons. The Northcliffes as opposed to a pornographer like that Express fellow.

Even playboys ain't what they used to be. Rubirosa, Aly Khan, Gunter Sachs, Dado Ruspoli, Juan Capuro, the list is endless. Now we have pillow-biters posing as walkers, posing as men. Which brings me to the point I wish to make. Style is as elusive as it is because it's the opposite of pretence. A characteristic of style is that it suggests depth of character and commands attention without soliciting it. Gianni Agnelli personifies style. He is a noble-looking man with a face deeply lined by what Balzac called private defeats.

Style is the most abused word in the English language. It is usually attributed to fashionable people by those not in the know. Style, however, is impossible to buy and unthinkable to learn. It is of an abstract nature. One either has it or doesn't. It is typical of the world without style in which we live that Tony Blair and his mentor, scumbag Bill Clinton, have to resort to taking orders from pollsters and image-makers in order to govern. Can you imagine Winston Churchill asking some broken-down hack whether the public would go for a landing in Normandy with the expected heavy casualties? …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.