Saturday, January 18, 2020

Saturday commute clxxvii: Going once


I don't know what I may seem to
the world. But as to myself I
seem to have been only like a 
boy playing on the seashore and
diverting myself in now and then 
finding a smoother pebble or pret-
tier shell than ordinary, whilst 
the great ocean of truth lay all 
undiscovered before me.


David Brewster
Memoirs of the Life,
  Writings and Discoveries
  of Sir Isaac Newton
Cambridge University, 1855©

Friday, January 17, 2020

I find that I'm with Queen Victoria

 As hereditary an authority as
 one could summon to mind, on
 the dual risks of removal
 from office - for an oddity
 of the head, or for simply
 having one attached to one's
 neck - her perplexity with a
 system of popular government
 was incurable, especially in
 view of who'd determine that.

  These are trying moments,
  and it seems to me a
  defect in our much-famed
  constitution to have to
  part with an admirable
  government like Lord Sal-
  isbury's for no question
  of any importance, or any
  particular reason, merely
  on account of the number
  of votes.

 To whose predicament is Her
 Majesty's aperçu now more
 applicable, than those to
 whom the burden falls, of
 tidying up the government
 of the United States, from
 the top? Far from querying
 the prohibitive immensity
 of his popularity, the jan-
 itors need merely to act on
 the oddity or the existence
 of his head. All else is
 bound to fall into place,
 without all this unseemli-
 ness of constitutionality.

 No stranger to internation-
 al treachery in the miscon-
 duct of states, Her Majesty
 clarified entirely how to
 adjust to such interventions.

John Julius Norwich
More Christmas Crackers
  Citing Peter Vansittart
    In Memory of England
Viking, 1990©

Monday, January 13, 2020

Couldn't they maybe go somewhere else?

Once again, we're all old enough to
remember the late Mohammed Reza Pah-
lavi, Shah of Iran in the good old
days of CIA-bespoke hegemons around
the world. Enthrallingly rich, ag-
onizingly beautifully spoused, and
about as interested in whose money
he was taking as any upstart pro on
the PGA tour. People will say, the
legitimate second son of the Prince
of Wales conjures more the profile
of his regal late great-great-uncle,
Edward VIII for a few weeks, quitter
par excellence for the woman he en-
deared himself to, with promises
neither one of them wanted to keep.

But I think the feebleness which
hangs about his proposals now re-
calls much more the nuisance fac-
tor of the late Shah, than the
lamentable maladjustments to roy-
alty of which the present Duke
is so archly proud. We remember,
how anxiously a retired fixer of
all things diplomatic, Henry Kis-
singer, attempted to gain for the
deposed Shah, persona non grata
and security risk incarnate, per-
mission to enter the United States
on the compassionate excuse of our
having doctors, whose care he was
said to require. (Disclosure: my
father-in-law was one of them).

Allowing the deposed Shah
access to any of the facilities 
of the City of New York would not
only have held our greatest con-
centration of population hostage
to recriminations from the reform
government of the mullahs; no one
could get around the streets with
any predictability, much less di-
gest the evening news without an
immense amuse bouche of his day's
progress through the shops and
suites of highest expense. For
this is admittedly the agenda of
the impossibly coddled couple who
wishes to be financially indepen-
dent - and don't everybody howl
with laughter at once - scarfing
up endorsements worth quite a
lot more to them, than their be-
smirched Royal Warrant could ever
bear to a Tate cube of demerara.
(Search "Tate sugar The 39 Steps"
and their portraits already appear).

That said, even the most besotted
groupies of Edward VIII (a matin-
ée-idol prince if ever there were
one) never pretended that he might
endure being royal while dressed,
and a free-range industrialist and
tastemaker while in Nike mufti
What this modernist desires is
much more beholden to the example
of the late Shah, or Virginia Hill
in Bugsy -- whatever he wants,
whenever he wants it -- and, like
his late mother, to spend the rest
of his time urging everyone to
mock the fount of his prestige. 

Didn't Aesop do a fable on this?