Sunday, 18 January 2015

Style - who and what has it


      I get enormous fun out of places with STYLE. Rabat and Tangier have it but Tunis doesn't and Dubai certainly doesn't. Odessa has it but the Baltic States do not. Split has it, Budapest I suppose, Madrid, Tbilisi. Expensive London has it, Aleppo had it alas, Havana despite the tourists has it
      The Island of Mozambique has it to overflowing, but now I am showing off. 

      Italy has it, more than anywhere else. France has it, but Greece doesn't. Brussels and Amsterdam don't have it at all nor anywhere in Germany except Berlin. Istanbul has it but you have to look in the working-class Fatih district. Bucharest had it before Communism and it still has it, in its own way, despite the new Old Town (which is anyway not so bad yet) and the satanic malls.

      Style is like an elephant. I recognise it immediately but can't define it. 

      The old restaurant TicTac near Cismigiu, a relic of the 1980s where Ion Laceanu sang each night, had it but the new ultra-expensive Diplomatic Club restaurant also has it in its way - a style I thought of in the early 2000s as 'PSD chic'. It goes with sports cars and beautiful brunettes. Casa Vernescu (old fashioned grand) and lots of cheap terraces had it. The old broken streets of the historic centre of Bucharest have it - but not when they are renovated. They are always renovated in ghastly style. Late 19th century hotels with ancient wrought-iron lifts had it before they were renovated. The old men playing chess in Cismigiu park have it and the House of the Writers housed in a magnificent shabby genteel villa.

      Arthur Balfour was the most stylish British Prime Minister and I was going to say the only one, but both Benjamin Disraeli and Churchill had style too in their idiosyncratic ways. I am not sure Shakespeare had style but Christopher Marlowe certainly did. Alexander Pope had it and Byron did when he wrote Don Juan. 
      Leslie Charteris had style, John Buchan a writer I hugely prefer didn't. 

      Brighton has A LOT of style, Southend-on-Sea, my native place, not a shred. Oxford and Cambridge have style, other English universities, well, never mind. Despite the liturgy and 1960s chasubles, Catholicism has style, especially Pope Benedict XVI. Since the Second Vatican Council, at least, Orthodoxy has more. Women priests do not have it, nor single-sex weddings.

      Wilde and Saki had it. The late Anita Ekberg had it to some extent, Doris Day didn't. Anna Chancellor has it, Diana Rigg had it, William Powell had it in spades in The Thin Man films. Raymond Chandler had so much it wasn't true, Dashiell Hammett didn't, despite writing the novel of The Thin Man. The English countryside has it. So does the Romanian countryside. I'm not sure the Irish countryside does, except the Mountains of Mourne.

      The place with least style I think I ever visited is the Hotel Carol Park, a six star hotel in Bucharest, but some other Romanian-owned 'good' hotels in Bucharest are little better.
      Indrei Ratiu very sweetly told me we had it. 

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