Magazine article The Spectator


Magazine article The Spectator


Article excerpt

On Pamela Harriman

Sir: When it comes to grandes horizontales and naughty girls, I defer to Taki (High Life, 8 April). On either topic, he could win Pulitzer prizes. I am also unsure whether I should have described Pamela Harriman as a naughty girl. Most girls I know would take that as a compliment; she did not deserve compliments. I did meet her once, after she had taken up with the Clintons, and expected to despise her. But there was an allure. Like Circe and Delilah, she had a ruthless charm. She could make any man feel that he was the most important being in the room and in my case, there could hardly have been a mercenary motive. I'm told that Bill Clinton, whom I have not met, can play similar tricks. Even those who know that he is full of sleaze find that they have to fight to resist enchantment. That

is not true of his wife.

Taki mentions young Winston Churchill: nomen et praeterea nihil. Poor fellow: at the hands of two such selfish and neglectful creatures as Pamela and Randolph, he had an appalling upbringing. If he had been a child from the slums, he would probably have been taken into care. Yet she might have one defence to the charge of utter meretriciousness. I suspect that she did love Averell Harriman, which does not excuse her attempts to plunder his estate. But early in the war, during its bleakest phase, her bedroom diplomacy undoubtedly assisted Anglo-American relations. They understand such matters in Paris, where Madame Claude often supplied the Quai d'Orsay with poules de luxe. Yet I doubt if any of Mme Claude's girls ever became an ambassador. Taki would know.

Bruce Anderson

London SW1

Pound punishment

Sir: I read with interest Hugo Rifkind's views on the suggestion that imperial measurements be restored ('Let's rein in Brexiteer triumphalism', 8 April). I am nearly 78 and still have in my possession a handwritten class test in arithmetic which contains problems in both imperial and metric. Needless to say that I have always favoured imperial units, as I regard six inches as much more easily envisaged than, say, 150 millimetres. I think that the main thing people were annoyed about was the criminalisation of imperial usage. Why were people prosecuted for using pounds and ounces? This sort of thing is what really annoyed people like me about the EU, as the law's origins were that august institution.

John R. McErlean

Elstow, Bedfordshire

Grauniad Island

Sir: I initially misread Rod Liddle's suggested destination for Channel 4 presenters ('You can take the liberal media bubble out of London...', 8 April). Rather than Gruinard Island of anthrax fame, I thought he wrote Grauniad Island. An island for Guardian journalists? …

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