Magazine article The Spectator

We Are Not Amused

Magazine article The Spectator

We Are Not Amused

Article excerpt

To Oxford for a debate on whether England is America's poodle or not, or something like that. Of course she is, and Charlie Glass and I are proposing the motion against Lord Parkinson, Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Nicholas Soames. I will tell you all about it next week, after it takes place, and if the aeroplane I'm about to fly over in does fly. In the meantime, Andrew Roberts, known among the cognoscenti as the thinking man's phallic symbol, has landed me in the soup. The historian hunk had this to say in What Might Have Been, a counterfactual history which he edited and is great fun:

An arrangement was negotiated with the Austro-Hungarians by which the ex-Tsar and his family crossed the border by train and proceeded to the Swiss border, whence they settled in Gstaad. Over the next five decades the lives and loves of the Tsarevich and his four grand-duchess sisters were to fill the pages of the world's society columns, but the Romanov-Theodoracopulos family - as they were eventually to become - were never again to intrude on to the front pages, to their own considerable relief.

Andrew very kindly sent me the book, which I lent to a Greek friend who loves what-might-have-been history. He in turn showed the above passage to a Greek woman who suffers from an inferiority complex, especially where social matters are concerned. During a lunch, she turned on me, accusing me of being a terrific snob and acting in a superior manner against the lower classes. For once I was speechless. The accusation was so outrageous I was left Billy Budd speechless.

My friend then came to my rescue, reminding the woman that court etiquette demanded a certain je ne sais quoi towards non-blue bloods. The penny finally dropped, and now I know what poor royals have to go through in life. My only worry is that my friend Nicola Romanov will read it and denounce the book. Or demand half my fortune. Be that as it may, I hope no one in The Spectator office begins to bow; it would greatly embarrass me. Just as I hope Princess Michael of Kent does not start calling me cousin. Incidentally, she made the front page of the New York Post for having told a bunch of black people at the next table at Da Silvano to go back to the colonies. I was there the night before, alas, but somehow the story stinks to high heaven. …

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