Saturday 15 September 2012

How does one become a grandee?

How does one become a grandee? I should like to be one though I am not quite sure what they are. I do not necessarily want to be the Spanish type though. But the only other type I know is the Tory grandee and politics, my childhood ambition, would never have done for me as a career, and even if it had I do not think I would have made it to grandee. 

I think being a grandee might require a voice like the late Sir Ian Gilmour's, which Frank Johnson wonderfully described as sounding like a Mercedes crunching over private gravel. Maybe too a library of old editions with a balcony running round it and outside the sound of distant gunshot, but I am not sure. Is William Hague a grandee?

I should like to combine being a grandee with being a socialite, but don't know how to become one of those either. I wonder if the internet will teach me or whether I shall have to add to the list of books I want to write: How to be a Grandee and How to Be a Socialite. The only way to learn about something is to write a book about it.

I would never give up my beloved country, but had I not drawn the winning ticket in the lottery of life and been born English, Spanish would be my second choice. They had an empire, they have as much gravitas as we have and a melancholy authority, a monarchy and an aristocracy as good as ours and, what we do not have, a very long history of reaction. (I am not myself really exactly a reactionary but am drawn to a country where they were forced to bring back the Inquisition after the restoration of the Bourbons because public opinion demanded it. However a left-wing friend, who lives in Madrid, says Spain  is not reactionary at all any more but very liberal.) 

But I would miss so many things from England, starting with the most beautiful countryside in the world, the best dressed and most stylish men in the world and steak and kidney pudding and... Irony, of course. Fantasy. Eccentricity. I would once have mentioned freedom, but this no longer seems the apposite word. I would never have mentioned tradition, for we are a singularly untraditional people, unlike the Spanish.

When I think of stylish men, the most stylish I ever knew was the late Monsignor Alfred Gilbey, but he of course was half Spanish.

Actually, I am sure the English and the Jews are the two greatest races in the world and the Spanish are not extremely close behind in the greatness scale, being slightly back numbers to be frank, but I do not think being Jewish would suit me at all, even though I am brainy and bad at sports. Though I would be happy to retire to the Old Town in Jerusalem and think about Ultimate Things one day. Until a few years ago I certainly wanted to live all my life in Bucharest and more precisely in the Old Town in Bucharest where I do live, but the new Old Town is not the same.


  1. Nice one Paul, really liked it. Even though I'm not sure about Jewish people being so high up there - I do like them but not nearly to the extent I like the English. Or the Germans. Emilian

  2. greatness is not the same as likeability though i do like Jews. I suppose the races I like most are the Irish and the Italians. You like the Germans because you are Romanian. They are OK but they overrate the virtues of efficiency and hard work and are not so strong on humour which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.

  3. Do you know that many later famous Jews (American and British) came from some neck of our woods (Maramures, Moldova, Bukovina)? Moreover, many (most?) of them were dirty, poor and ignorant. Maybe proficient in Talmud. A master race indeed.

  4. Btw, Paul, you have exchanged the best climate in Europe with the worst. You are a strange fellow. Imagine a new winter like the previous one. To paraphrase Thomas Mann, it could be “Death in Bucharest”. Why do you hate your country so much?

  5. Actually, I am sure the English and the Jews are the two greatest races in the world ...

    That sounds like a kindergarten thought. How old r you> just give some example of great british and jewish(but not from romania) gifts to the world. I ll take james watt as given. every country needs at least one genius inventor to start counting:)).

  6. greatest monarchy in the world? you realize they keep that for show and money? do u actually think the queen has a saying in things at all? sending the redhead kid to war.what a joke. thats a nice way to trick the public that we re doing good things there!!! even the redhead is taking part. we cant possibly say withdraw now that harry s ridin a chopper over there. i could ramble on.... have another look on the world map paul... check out big russia big up north.... check out the arab turkish quartet under us neckin for centuries.... look to tthe west and see our beautiful europe.... sprinkle some latin .... yes we re still here the buffer... suckin in it, without invading anyone.. just blockin and learnin for two thousand years. How did we do it without stealing every rock and stone from this world like the british did? Perfidious s albion s just that : perfidious
    most beautiful countryside in the world? u have no mountains ...just some hills. its not like they live somewhere up on some idylic place with four proper seasons and harvest everything by hand. they still go at their local tesco.... paul..everything so empty of any spiritual feeling..of atheists... when u don t believe in anything no more ure so easy to control....
    I like the Spanish too but not because they had an empire. u like empires...dont u lol

  7. James Watt is the only great man you will allow us? We gave the world sandwiches and warm beer and Shakespeare and taught the world how to make tapioca pudding. And mountains are nice but slightly too melodramatic - hedges and fields are beautiful. I travelled by train twice by different routes from Bucharest to England and both times, without being prejudiced, the landscape (the mountains of Switzerland excepted) was completely dull till I got to Kent. I agree the English climate may be the best in the world and better than frying and freezing on the plains of Wallachia but climate is not everything.

  8. yep thats why u go to ethiopia.. to find that kentish feeling... yes...meat over was only a matter of time until count sandwich made this breakthrough. shakespeare.... the asians find it interesting...but you were jokin anyway. Grey skies 70% of the time? u call that weather:)) ill take a frying and a freezing then ill climb a mountain and then ill understand a bit about nature...just a bit...

  9. Oh dear - is it? - that sounds like that line from Yes Minister - 'That would be a very courageous decision , Minister.'

  10. What are some ways in which you can become a grandee anyway? I didn't think there were any if you were not born into an aristocratic family.

    And what is the difference between a Spanish one and a Tory one?