Tuesday, 8 June 2010

"NO GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED" GORE VIDAL






















I am always curious - curious over cultures, music, food, people, in fact anything new. I will travel the world if I think I am in love just to check and see and feel. Of course, I often get things wrong. I am not infallible. I make endless mistakes but - goodie - they push me on to live a more exciting life, hopefully not at other peoples' expense. Lately I have been interested in having friends from the United States of America. But with so little in common it makes hanging out with them almost impossible. We are two great countries divided by the same language, as someone brainy once said. (And Gore Vidal said "America went from barbarism to decadence without an intervening period of civilisation." Of course this a little cruel but I do love the quotes of this famous raconteur.)

Anyway I have a problem: why is it that a culture that pretends to be clean and talks about relaaaationships so much, does so little to make me want to enter into anything with them? Any real relationship with them can be very tricky for me. The other day I wanted my tree house decorated and the decorator in question has good taste. I thought it would be easy, a cinch. Not at all. He wanted me to pay 10,000 dollars for five swatches of material. Well, not quite, because of course he chose the floor and colour of the walls. But you get the gist. We are not from the same planet.

Another example. Last week, I ended up driving round the South of France with another Yank. It was a disaster and I ended up hitting him in car, in my flat and on the Eurostar. Then five minutes later, I would ask him back because I felt guilty. I thought I could be friends. Was it his suit that irritated me or his opinion on Jackie Onassis's glasses? Or whether my hair was too high, or whether I should reapply my make up that irritated him? In any case I was fed up with our misunderstanding over who should pay for what.

Now I was under the impression that men should generally pay for everything unless they are not in a position to do so, in which case they should explain their situation in the beginning, I will happily pay for my own extravagances and anything that is too expensive for them. I just think it is gallant to be honest and/or correct. I am also fully aware that I am richer than most, but I would like a balance in my life, and if I want a gigolo I will choose a 25 year old gorgeous creature. Honestly all I really want is an amiable driver.

Anyway I was relieved to get to England and see Tim Willis and chat about the English, and listen to mundane conversations about Turnbull and Asser versus New and Lingwood shirts, and the misdemeanours of the aristocracy in 70's and 80's covered in his new book on Nigel Dempster.

Oh for beautiful England in the sun, The Fourth of June (which an American may not know fell on the second of June this year and is Eton College's sports day). To have picnic at Glyndebourne in the pouring rain and listen to Cosi Van Tutti - or go to The Chelsea Flower Show, Ascot and all other truly British happenings - is after all so appealing.

America's love for Hugo Boss suits, brown shirts, penny loafers, hot meals and fake emotion - although temporarily appealing - has lost its allure. Oh for the sarcasm of a public school boy, or the intellectual superiority of the Notting Hill Gate mother, and the grand life of the Scottish laird. All is forgiven, I am back.

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