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Branko Bokun Memoirs of a Nomadic Humorist

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BRANKO BOKUN

MEMOIRS OF A NOMADIC HUMORIST

Irony, Pathos and Farce

Vita Books 36 King's Road Chelsea, London SW3 4UD

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© BRANKO BOKUN 2007 A Memoir All Rights Reserved First published in 2007 by Vita Books 36 King's Road Chelsea, London SW3 4UD www.vitabooks.com ISBN 0-9510525 ­ 9 - 4

Set in Ehrhardt by St Aubin Typesetting and printed in England by Antony Rowe Ltd, Chippenham, Wiltshire

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Dedicated to Anne Loudon

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PREFACE Branko Bokun claims that his ability to view humanity as an observer is particular because he has been a stateless person since the 1940s. I suggest that it is more because he belongs to all states, that he can see what others do not. I suspect that this gift, or ability, was partly inherent and partly nurtured by his experiences growing up in a multilingual community and, as a child, learning to communicate with transient strangers. The key to being perceptive is communication, i.e. gaining a rapport with one's surroundings. The ability to communicate with a stranger, or a child, or an animal depends on seeing the world from the others' point of view, and being able to let them understand yours. Once the ability to communicate, at any level, is established it becomes a habit. Branko Bokun has expanded that habit to include so many of the issues that we struggle with today. This book shows us where his language came from and where he wants it to take us - to a better understanding of our strengths and foibles, our excesses and our potential to be better at living with each other, and on this earth, than we are. Everyone we meet is a journey we would never take on our own, Branko is a trip that I shall likely be taking for the rest of my life, and I will be the better for it. Hazel Smith The Assistant

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CONTENTS Page i v 1 3 6 9 17 22 35 43 45 48 51 55 59 61 63 66 69 72 76 81 83 86 90 91 92 94 100 Chapter Introduction Bibliography The Essence Of Memory Strutting Pigeon - Niven Emile Cioran Vatican Inmates WWll Giorgio De Chirico Spies - from Kurtna to Manci Porfirio Rubirosa Charles Fawcett - A Man with a Mission Roman Rota Peter Ustinov and Peter Sellers Pablo Picasso Cippico + Luciano = Vatican Finance A Legacy of the Sixties - Childhood's End Red Cross - Travel Documents Andy Warhol Richard Burton Eugène Ionesco Fellini - La Vita Amara Dolce Amir Assadollah Alam Farah Diba Maurice Margherita Sarfatti Sundays are for Suicide A Touch of English Humour Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Extras The View from a Cassock

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102 104 113 117 122 125 128 129 130 131 133 136 140 141 145 148 151 153 155 158 163 170 172 173 176 179 192

Karol Józef Wojtyla Princess Marthe Bibesco Curzio Malaparte The Coming of Woman The Russian Tea Room Princely Love Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir The Eleventh of November Madonna! Chelsea Pensioners Railway Stations Dior - Branding Sic Transit Gloria Mundi Venice and Hemingway Behind Language Betty Friedan Croissants and Camus Changing Rooms Ebrahim the Pharmacist Refugee Camps WWll The Meaning of Life Gianni Agnelli Paul Gallico Lady Fellows Vienna Episodes Wisdom in Old Age A Sense of Humour

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INTRODUCTION I must have always been a humorist and appreciated irony, or I would not have survived all that I experienced in my youth, without some physical or psychological damage. In April 1941, when I was 21 years old, Nazi Germany invaded my country, Yugoslavia, which encouraged their allies, the Croats, to persecute Serbs, starting the ugliest of all hostilities, a Civil War. This was an anathema to me. I was born in the Dinaric Mountains in Dalmatia, but I had grown up in the Banat, in northeast Yugoslavia, surrounded by minority groups of Hungarians, Croats, Germans, Jews, Serbs, Slovaks, Romanians, French and Gypsies. Everyone around me was able to speak, or to understand, or to swear in at least one other language than their own, which meant that nationalism was never an issue. I considered myself cosmopolitan, someone who regarded national, ethnic or religious prejudices or barriers to be provincial. In order to avoid being tainted or involved in the Civil War, I left my country for Rome at the end of 1941, where I registered for courses in Anthropology at the University. My knowledge of languages enabled me to find a job with the International Red Cross, which was struggling to deal with the countless Balkan internees, prisoners of war and refugees that had ended up in Italy. Not only was it an extraordinary time for the whole of Europe, but to be in Rome, and working for the IRC, during WWII, was almost opportunistic for a student anthropologist. Virtually nowhere else, at no other time, could I have observed, and been part of, such a broad spectrum of human behaviour. At the end of the war, with Yugoslavia in the thrall of Communism, I became a political refugee. I stayed in Rome i

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until I graduated from the University, then I spent a further two years at the Sorbonne, in Paris, reading sociology. On completing my studies I returned to Italy where I found work as a journalist, as an extra in film industry and became an author. Once again, I could not have been better placed to meet so many truly extraordinary people or to be witness to the events that shaped the post war years. Nor could I have been of a better age. I was old enough to have known a different world before the war, and young enough to accept the changes. In 1960, I came to England and settled in Chelsea, where I am today, and every summer, until 1995, I spent on my boat at Antibes in the South of France. Most large towns have a neighbourhood that embodies the best of peaceful co-existence, in London it's Chelsea. Historically this area evolved from the market garden of London, into a place where artists and their patrons resided, a place of genteel people and the most benign activities. The counter-play between these two spectrums of society, the producer of beautiful things and his customer, created a civilised and tolerant atmosphere. To be living in Chelsea is to feel one has arrived. Tolerance and civility elicit dignity. As one ages, dignity becomes crucial, as it forms a protective shield against increasing frailty and vulnerability, as do good memories. I believe that old age can be both a mentally and physically healthier experience if we can carry forward into it as many good memories as possible. There is no doubt in my mind that selfish or bad behaviour ultimately leads to persecuting memories or nightmares and poisonous regrets. Paradise and hell do not reside in the hereafter, but in our here and now memories. As Cicero said, "As you have sown so shall you reap." Old age is a unique existence, over-taken by the present, intimidated by the future and generally only sure of the past. An old man becomes a `self-voyeur', revived by memories, which are accessed by the emotions they were filed under. Pleasant emotions evoke enjoyable memories, and vice versa, which warm the aged body and soothe its aches and pains. ii

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Cafés have always been a love of mine, being part of a seated community is relaxing as it is rarely aggressive or nasty. I now spend hours sitting in various cafés along the King's Road, (Picasso, the garden of Henry J. Beans, Blushes or in Chelsea Farmer's Market), or occasionally on one of the public benches, enjoying the moments when a certain sound, sight or smell will remind me of a past event or person. Also, sitting in a café can show us how silly we are to rush about. Just watching busy people urgently dashing past, our own apprehension and anxiety can be increased, as we associate this kind of activity with flight from danger. Rushing reduces the efficiency of our senses and our reasoning power. Observing all this from a relaxed position makes such behaviour so obviously ridiculous. Another aspect of cafés which I love is the harmonious movement of waiters and waitresses, without which they would surely spill or drop so much. It is pleasant to observe harmony in our mostly brutal world as it is soothing. In fact, I think that waiters and waitresses should be tipped particularly well for this. My work with the International Red Cross was an important episode in my life. I discovered that helping people in need made me content and that contentment made me lucky. This is perhaps because being content helps our intuition, which is seldom wrong. I discovered this on 19th July 1943. The day before, the director of the International Red Cross gave me some money to take to a Jewish family from Yugoslavia hiding under a false name in Perugia. This was typical of the work I did in the Red Cross. At first I thought of going to Perugia the next day, but, conscious of the needs of the family, I decided not to wait and left immediately. The next morning, as I was returning to Rome, I heard on the radio that the Allied Air Force had bombed the city, devastating the sector in which I lived. When I reached my building I found that one bomb had fallen directly on my top floor room, destroyiii

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ing all my possessions. Seeing the empty space which used to be my room I suddenly became euphoric. The thought that I could have been there if I had stayed in Rome gave me an exquisite sense of gratitude at being alive and losing all my possessions made me feel suddenly free. I realised then that material possessions had brought me more worries than pleasures. I sat in the ruins simultaneously crying and laughing, joyously relieved and full of a sense of a new beginning. From that moment on I never again travelled with much baggage. I became a very happy nomad.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY My publisher asked me to list my literary works here; however, my books would be offended if I merely listed them without mentioning something about each. My first book `Capitalism, Communism and the Third Way', published in Italy in 1948, was the thesis for my doctorate at Rome University. I thought this was a portentous year to have it published, as it was the centenary of the publication of Karl Marx's `Communist Manifesto'. The coincidence went unnoticed; yet, the book had a modest success. An old Italian professor told me that the title was wrong. He said, "No-one in Italy likes `Third Way' solutions as they sound moderate. Italians love extremes as they are more litigious and more excitable." Many readers only remembered the following joke from the book: An American told a Russian Communist that Communism is a regime based on the exploitation of man by man. When the Russian Communist asked, "What about Western Capitalism"? the American answered: "It's vice versa". In 1953 my novel `Prisoners of Life', was published in Italy and Spain. The book dealt with a new kind of population which occupied Western Europe after the WWII. It was made up of displaced persons, political refugees, exhausted and disillusioned people, war invalids, and war criminals. This mass of humanity seemed to have lost vitality, as they had lost trust, without which they were unable to commit or attach themselves to anyone, or any community. They quickly adapted to the consumerism and fast life of the West recovering from war. In 1956 `Adventures of Via Veneto' was published. It is a satirical book about `La Dolce Vita', dedicated to a street full of v

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cafés, populated by people who preferred hope to certainty, fantasy to reality. The book also describes how the Italians, after the occupation (or liberation) by the Americans, lost their adolescent mentality, which had ruled them during Fascism, and became noisy and infantile. In 1972 `The Pornocracy' was published. This is an historical novel which deals with the anarchic political and religious period, during the first half of the 10th Century in Rome, dominated by a woman called Marozia. It was Marozia who inspired the myth about a female pope. Interestingly, the belief that the end of the first millennium would see the end of the world, brought women into power and prominence all over Europe. `The Spy in the Vatican' was published in 1973, in Great Britain, Italy and America. It is a satirical diary of WWII, based on my experiences working for the Red Cross in Rome, from 1941 to the end of the war. In 1977, when my book `Man: the Fallen Ape' was published in America, I was interviewed on one of the main New York radio shows. The interviewer asked me "Why Anthropology?" I told him that I had learnt so much from one book on the subject that unfortunately I picked up another. I soon realised that the first author knew very little about the subject. On reading a third, I realised that none of them knew anything for certain, and consequently there was no reason why I should not write down my own anthropological thoughts. The interviewer then asked if I had been to Papua New Guinea or visited any other remote peoples in my research. I replied that I had indeed studied many natives and aboriginals, from the Banat to the Via Veneto in Rome, and from the Rue d'Antibes in Cannes, to The King's Road in Chelsea, London. Here, I explained, there were rich pickings for any anthropologist, providing more insight into the woes and humour of the world at large, than can be found in a remote village up the vi

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Amazon. This book bestowed a great honour upon me. It took a whole page in the American Magazine, Newsweek, to vehemently criticise it and a review in a New Orleans newspaper commented that at last someone had managed to commit the perfect crime... "The author of this book succeeded in offending everyone". Many people were offended by my suggestion that we were neither fallen angels, nor risen apes, but fallen apes. I was delighted when the book was published in Japan, my esteem for the Japanese rose accordingly. I was particularly lucky with my book, `Humour Therapy', published in Britain, in 1986, and translated into several languages. Its success was primarily due to the public's great need for humour. London ITV dedicated a programme to the book. I had to give many lectures amongst which was one at a symposium organised for young actors and mu s i c i a n s, at St. Bartholomew's Hospital in London, explaining how a sense of humour can help reduce stage fright or performance anxieties. Luck also played a part in my getting a German edition of the book published. Some of its British admirers suggested I try to contact foreign publishers at the Frankfurt book fair, so I went there with a few copies. I found myself surrounded by thousands of visitors and exhibitors, running around as if obsessed. Being lost in a crowd, one notices the ugliness of humanity, which is intimidating and depressing. In the midst of my confusion I had a fortunate encounter: I met a German literary agent that I had come to know in New York. I asked her if there was a German publisher who might be interested in my `Humour Therapy', she suggested the publisher Ariston Verlag, who specialised in books on complementary medicine. The lady in charge of Ariston Verlag's stand asked me to wait while she dealt with another author. As I stood there watching her, I nearly laughed out loud. She was around 65 years old, with vii

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such a stern, humourless expression on her face that, I thought, she only needed a Nazi uniform to be a perfect `Kapo' in a concentration camp. I nearly left, so convinced was I that she would be the last person to be interested in a book on humour. She approached me, "Now, can I help you?" she said. As I considered any effort to sell my book to such a gloomy looking person would be useless, I decided to be flippant. I smiled and said, "No Madam, you cannot help because I want to help you!" She was surprised, "What do you mean?" she said. "I want to help you to become an even bigger publisher, because I have an original book for you, dealing with humour as therapy." " This is so funny", she answered with a more vivacious tone, "this is very funny indeed", she repeated. "What the hell's so funny?" I found myself laughing back. "Just before we came to Frankfurt, our board decided we should look around for a book on humour as therapy", she explained. I left her two copies of my book. One month later, I had a contract and an invitation to the launch of `Wer Lacht, Lebt' (Who Laughs, Lives), at the book fair the following year, which I attended. There I saw a big banner with the title of my book in German, over the main alley leading to the fair. The book became a best seller and was subsequently published both as a paper back and as a pocket book. I was also lucky with the book in Italy. There, I was interviewed by the Italian State TV, by Berlusconi's TV, and by Monte Carlo TV. However, the one thing that really pleased me was to be invited, by the City of Bordighera, to open its annual festival on Humour, in September 1998. The Festival Committee were so happy with my lecture on the therapeutic potential of humour, that they asked me to open the Millennium 2000 festival. The theme of the festival was `Humour and Sex', which delighted me because it gave me the chance to illustrate my controversial idea about the relationship viii

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between the two. In my lecture I pointed out that: "Humour and Sex can help us realise how pathetic and comic Homo sapiens is. Other animals tend to limit their sexual activities to their `seasons', we do it regardless, thus wasting a great deal of vital energy. This is mainly because we are a neotenous species, which stops maturing at an infantile or adolescent phase of development. This is particularly true for men; women tend, with their first pregnancy, to reach a more complete maturity. In fact, the more infantile our mentality, the more sexually active or obsessed we are. We, in fact, develop the most comic creatures in nature, which are `dirty old men'. We seldom see `dirty old women'...." "...Sexual desires can limit our rationality, which can damage our choice of a long term partner. On the other hand, a sense of humour can reduce our obsession with sex, increase our rationality and helps us to form a more solid and longer lasting relationship with a partner...." "...Sexual desires can destroy real love. Sexual desire or obsession, without real love, can create jealousy. In fact, the more fragile and insecure a person, the more he or she inclines to develop sexual jealousy, self and selfish love. This is perhaps so, because the more fragile and insecure we are, the more we are inclined to develop possessiveness, a desire to dominate our partner, which has no room for a sense of humour. A person with a sense of humour is more able to develop a deep and tender love....." At the end of my opening speech, more women applauded than men. Latin Lovers take sex very seriously. In 1989 `Stress Addiction' was published in Britain, Germany and Argentina. The book explained the reasons for our restlessness and agitation, above all it pointed out that many people enjoy being agitated as it gives them the impression their lives are more dramatic and interesting. The agitated seldom realise that agitation creates tension, which can strain an organism and the mind, which can lead to physical and mental probix

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lems. I stressed that agitation, in fact, kills life, as it kills time in which to live. In 1994, `Bio-Economy: Matriarchy in Post Capitalism', was published in Britain and Germany. This book explained that the problems on our planet were created by the men who dominated it, and still do. The efforts of women over the passed hundred or so years, to attain equality with men, are somewhat misguided. Women are naturally more mature and rational than men, but unfortunately in their struggle for equality they are becoming just as infantile, selfish and self-centred as men, with tragicomic results. I also suggested that by taking the mother's family name, children might be more inclined to acquire maternal attributes, which could become the pillars of a new economy. There is no such thing as equality in nature, as equality is the negation of attraction, and therefore sterile or indifferent. `Humour and Pathos in Judaeo-Christianity', was published in 1997. The book mainly deals with the incongruities and absurdities of Western religious beliefs. The Judaeo-Christian God created man in His own image, entitling man, with his wishful, arrogant and aggressive beliefs, to rule the planet. This was hardly the act of an intelligent God, with genuine concerns for our planet and all other species that lived on it. We also believe in our God's omnipotence, a belief which prevents us from realising that this supernatural power is destroying the natural order. In 2001 `Humour - Old People's Only Saviour', was published. This book explains how a sense of humour can help us reach a more balanced way of reasoning, paving the way for a better quality of life in old age. The book advises people to prepare and organise themselves for their old age, in order to survive. The increasing number of people living to old age, on a planet with diminishing natural resources, could jeopardise their very existence. x

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`Homo Puerilis', published in 2003, explains the origins of Western hypocrisy, the American infantile mentality and of the conflict with the Muslim world. In spite of positive evidence to the contrary, the Western world considers its civilisation superior to any other. In spite of a belief in its superiority, the West has been unable to discover the meaning of life. It has, quite ridiculously, proposed the idea of a selfish gene, an idea that accommodates the West's exploitive mentality. If, indeed, genes were selfish, life would not have produced complex and co-operative organisms, it would never have evolved beyond bacterium. In 2005 `The Origin of the Mind and its Follies', was published. The book stresses that with the development of the mind, of which we are so proud, came a life of beliefs, fantasies, wars, revolutions, psychosomatic diseases, mental disorders, depression and addictions, and ridicule. We are the only species that both creates and leans on illusions; we thus deceive ourselves, which is nicely ridiculed in this joke: In a lunatic asylum, an inmate is playing patience, whilst another lunatic stands watching the game. After a moment, the onlooker remarks, "You are cheating." "I know," says the player, "but I am so good at it, I don't notice."

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MEMOIRS

OF A

NOMADIC HUMORIST

The Essence of Memory

In order to understand the way I have produced my memoirs, it might be useful to know how I perceive the way in which our memories are formed and evoked. Any sensation or idea that we experience is accompanied by a frequency of emotional energy, both of which are filed together in our reservoir of memories. The stronger the emotion that comes with any event or idea, the deeper and more lasting is the memory of that event or idea. Any event or idea in the present can revive one or more of the events or ideas, registered on the same emotional frequency, in our memory pool. . For instance, whenever I recall the bombing of Rome and the loss of my room and possessions, I also remember the following sequence of events and ideas. As I sat lost in thought in the ruins of my room, an unexpected kiss on my cheek brought me back to reality. It was my girlfriend, Lea Padovani, a student at the School of Drama, who became one of the greatest Italian actresses and a major love of Orson Welles. "Thank God, you are alive," she said, and offered me a place to stay until I re-organised my life. Unfortunately for our love, the moment Lea left drama school she suffered a great success. This made her overly ambitious, which all too soon, strangled her talent, which made her excessively insecure. Both her ambition and insecurity drove her away from me into the arms of the celebrated Orson Welles. However, she soon realised that Orson was also a victim of early success and just as ambitious and insecure. Their relationship ended, leaving them both to their self-eroding pretensions. Lea became obese and died in 1991. I still raise a glass of champagne to her, on her birthday, toasting a basically decent person, brought down by the fear of failure that comes with early success. A world obsessed by success is also a world living in ter-1-

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BRANKO BOKUN

ror of failure. Terror tends to beget failure, as failure dissipates terror. Lea loved champagne as it reminded her of her success.

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MEMOIRS

OF A

NOMADIC HUMORIST

Strutting Pigeon - Niven

I was sitting on a bench in Dovehouse Green, in Chelsea, looking at a male pigeon courting a female. Whenever I see this or similar displays, I always think of the actor David Niven. I met David in 1965 at his villa `Lo Scoglietto', near St. Jean Cap Ferrat in the South of France. I was a frequent guest at his house and often met up with him at various receptions or dinner parties on the Riviera. David was born to flirt, even his moustache looked more like a toy than a sign of maturity. He was able to seduce the most attractive women wherever in the world he went. The famously beautiful actress, Ava Gardner, repeatedly said that David's flirting could transform even the most fanatical Catholic nun into a coquette. "Every woman harbours a coquette inside herself," said Ava, whom I used to see in London in her later years, "but very few men know enough of the art of flirtation to bring it out. Flirtation becomes an art when it is play, when it is flirtation for flirtation's sake." Once I knew him better, I realised that David's flirting was inspired by his gentleness and generosity, which was nurtured by his love of loving. Because of this, David's flirting had taste and elegance. When I met David, he was married to Hjördis, a beautiful Swedish model. Hjördis was deeply insecure, like many women who are known for, and make a living out of, their beauty. She had difficulty in overcoming her insecurity as she grew older. This was compounded by the fact that she had come from a provincial life, into the glamorous and cosmopolitan world of the French Riviera, in which David moved with such an ease and grace. As David became more successful as an actor and writer, her insecurity increased. At some point Hjördis decided to solve her problem by imitating David's flirtatious game. She was not a natural flirt, like David, and in order to encourage herself, she started drinking.

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BRANKO BOKUN

Under the influence of alcohol she went beyond the limits of taste and decency. She gradually became aggressive, which was embarrassing, particularly when she played her amorous games in front of David. Occasionally I became the target of her attention, but I managed to stop her by jokingly saying that I was a paedophile. When David became terminally ill, Hjördis became nasty and vindictive. She turned her love into hate and took pleasure in insults. Her final spiteful act was her decision not to be buried next to David in the peaceful Château-d'Oex cemetery, in Switzerland. Whenever I think of marriages between different mentalities and cultures, I always remember an old Italian proverb: "Oxen and wives should be chosen inside your own village."

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At Villa Lo Scoglietto in St. Jean Cap Ferrat, South of France. The Author with David Niven, and with Hjördis Niven.

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BRANKO BOKUN

Emile Cioran

One day I was having my daily Cappuccino in Picasso Café in Chelsea when a new waitress served me. She told me that she was a Romanian from Transylvania. Transylvania reminded me of Emile Cioran, who originally came from there. I met him in the Sorbonne University's student cafeteria, in 1946. I always thought that some people liked to complain because it gave them a sense of importance. When I met Cioran I discovered that some people actually take pleasure in being persistently pessimistic. If challenged they invariably say they are not pessimistic, merely realistic. In fact, they make a profession out of being miserable, never pleased or satisfied and they generally suffer great uncertainty and anxiety. Cioran was a Romanian refugee who became an important French writer. He was particularly appreciated by those who found Schopenhauer's gloominess too mild, a tendency that is on the increase. We spent many hours together in cafés, discussing his theories. I found his extreme pessimism amusing. He had a bizarre theory, he insisted that he loved and cultivated nihilism and its hopelessness because they provided him with freedom from fear. He would explain that, "When you are without hope, you are not afraid, you are not threatened anymore. When you reach `les cimes du désespoir', you achieve the ultimate freedom of the devil, which has a seductive perfume." The Devil, according to Cioran, was more powerful than an omnipotent God because he was free to sin, he had nothing to lose. Cioran would say that an all powerful God should have known that, by kicking an angel out of heaven, He was creating something more powerful than Himself, something with no constraints. "Both God and man are stupid," he used to insist, "they debase the vanquished by transforming them into enemies

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MEMOIRS

OF A

NOMADIC HUMORIST

and then they develop such a fear of their enemies, they start being influenced by them." He also said that only the Devil can play and laugh. God, and man created in His image, cannot be happy because they hope. So, if our God never laughs, it proves that he is never free and eternally insecure. Now if we consider that our behaviour is influenced by the Devil, then the absurd mess our lives are in starts to make sense. If we imagine that the world was created by God, we must really be confused, for how can we believe that an omniscient and omnipotent god, who cannot laugh, would create such a joke. "After all", he went on to say, "I come from Transylvania, where they worship the Devil, Dracula, more than God." Cioran adored paradoxical ideas, which made people use their brains instead of falling prey to the wishful beliefs or prejudices of their minds. "I am allergic to beliefs", he would emphasise with a vindictive smile on his hard and craggy face. I remembered him once saying that he found it an exquisite pleasure to smile, because his smile was that of a sceptic, who has been proved right. A sceptic's smile is directed inwards, it is a private affair. Laughter projects outward, it belongs in the public domain. One seldom laughs alone. "Not to be born is undoubtedly the best condition of all. Unfortunately it is out of everyone's reach," was another of his frequent laments. "Suicide is a possible remedy, worth keeping in mind, but it is rather ugly and messy." I sometimes wonder what could have caused Cioran's pessimism and melancholy. I think part of the answer might lie in the fact that, in adolescence, we tend to take on a persona that gives us some confidence, a sense of importance, something with which to impress others. Often the more insecure we are, the more imaginative we become and the more outrageous our adopted attitudes become. Once it is entrenched, we spend the rest of our lives living up to that persona. I told him that his sadness was consuming his `élan vital,' his

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vital energy, leaving him empty. I tried to tell him that by fighting the negative side of life with humour, he might gain a more joyful life. He answered that vengeance was his sole purpose and pleasure in existing and writing. He never understood that life tends to repay you in kind. Upon reaching his three score years and ten, Cioran, the great purveyor of melancholy and nihilism, fell in love like an adolescent boy, with Friedgard Thoma, a young German student of philosophy. In one of his letters to her, after their amorous relationship in Paris, he wrote, "You are the centre of my life, the goddess of someone who does not believe in anything, the supreme happiness and unhappiness that happened to me." He was obsessed with her body. When he discovered that she had had a sexual relationship with another man, his whole mind and body became consumed with jealousy. He wrote in his `Cahiers', "I would like to place my head forever under your skirt." Cioran died in agony, the death of a failed cynic, in 1995, having been cared for to the end by his companion, Simone Boué, who had loved her `enfant prodige' long and deeply. She knew about Friedgard.

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Vatican Inmates WWII

Vatican City, St. Peter's Square, Rome, Italy. A fine address for anyone, but during WWII, it became something of an upmarket internment camp for a certain group of people. Today, watching Pope John Paul II on television in my flat in Chelsea, as he gave his Easter blessing to the crowds from his balcony overlooking St. Peter's Square, I was reminded of this. Life within the Vatican City Limits, for Ambassadors to the Holy See who represented countries at war with Italy during WWII, was extraordinary and intense. In 1929, after 60 years of wrangling, the Lateran Agreement finally ratified a legal coexistence between Italy and the Vatican. It decreed that foreign diplomatic representatives to the Holy See did not have to actually live on Vatican soil and were free to live in Italy. However, just a few years later, when Italy declared war on various countries such as the U.S.A., U.K., France, Brazil, Belgium, Holland, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, their diplomats were expelled from Italy, and that included those accredited to the Vatican. Those wishing to remain at their posts had to find accommodation and offices on Vatican soil, mostly within the confines of the square mile of the Vatican City State. Once inside, they were only allowed out if they needed hospital treatment, or they were returning to their own countries. They would be taken in the appropriate vehicle, either Ambulance or a Police van, with blacked out windows, from inside the Vatican City, directly to hospital or Ciampino Airport. Those that stayed were isolated. Almost no-one from the outside world could get in to see them. The only access into the Vatican City was by reporting to the Swiss Guards at the Porta di Bronzo, with either a special pass or an invitation from a senior Vatican official who lived and worked inside. Invitations from Ambassadors representing countries at war with Italy were not valid. All visitors came under the intense and systematic

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Map of the Vatican City. (Below) Old Embassy Garden, Porta Pia, Rome (1931) by Sir Francis D'Arcy Godolphin Osborne. On display in the British Embassy (Chancery) in Rome.

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scrutiny of the Italian police who were permanently stationed by Bernini's columns, just in front of the Bronze door. Spies were everywhere, and so was paranoia. I was fascinated by this seeming impregnability of the Vatican, which I managed to circumvent by sheer circumstance. When I first met Antonio Nogara, at a student meeting at the Dante Alighieri Academy, I had no idea that he was living with his parents inside the Vatican City. He was one of those people who enjoyed pleasing others. As I was a foreigner in Rome, he somehow felt protective towards me. Whenever I needed to get into the Vatican City, mostly to see the acting Yugoslav Ambassador, Kosta Cukic, Antonio would `invite me to lunch' or some other such excuse. Kosta Cukic was living in Palazzo Santa Marta, together with the British Diplomatic Representative, Sir Francis d'Arcy Godolphin Osborne and the Representative of the American President. I would take him letters received by the International Red Cross, from Jewish and other Yugoslavs hiding out in Italy, asking for help. With funds from various sources, including Sir Francis d'Arcy Osborne, Kosta would do all he could to help. He also talked to me for hours about how it felt to be confined and restricted, albeit within such a prestigious and well supplied world. There were times, such as during the afternoon when the Pope took a walk, when they were not even allowed out in the grounds. "Everyone here has to either develop a hobby or go mad," Kosta explained one day. "Most of the diplomats attempt to write, mainly about the past, in fact, most of the books they take out of the library are about history. I play tennis and the wives spend their time dressing up as if to go out. However, the one thing we all have in common is an increasing inability to concentrate." Apparently, along with many of his cohabitants, another pastime was `neighbourhood watch', with little opportunity to report to anyone. He admitted that confinement had increased his need to talk, and that it was no use talking to his wife as she

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never listened. "In fact," he complained, "nobody listens to anybody here. They just smile at you, pretending to listen. It is not that they don't want to listen, it's as if they've gone deaf." With me, an attentive audience, he would expand upon his theories. "We are all becoming increasingly agitated and nervous. Everyone is a spy of some sort or another. Most of us are paranoid and spend much of the time dwelling on gloomy fantasies and suspicions, some of which, of course, are true, but which? That is the problem!" Kosta also observed that the longer these highly motivated `intellectuals' remained incarcerated, the more morose and moronic they became and the greater their ability to reason became impaired. For instance, in a letter dated 15th September 1942, the English representative in the Vatican stated that his Government was of the opinion that the Soviets had no intention of Bolshevising Europe and that the Vatican should not worry about Catholic Poland, Lithuania, Slovakia and Hungary. Vatican diplomacy was scandalised by such naivety. Pope Pius XII had hated and feared the Communists, ever since they had assaulted him in his office as Papal Nuncio in Munich in 1922, and was fully aware of the real threat from Communism. Anxiety gave way to real fear when, on the evening of November the 5th 1943, four bombs landed inside the Vatican City, in the courtyard of the Mosaic workshop, causing very little damage and no loss of life. The following day the headlines of the official Vatican newspaper, `L'Osservatore Romano', read: "We deeply deplore this violation of the Vatican City, whose neutrality safeguards the freedom and religion of the World." On reading this, I knew that the Vatican was convinced that the Allies would win the War. Linking `freedom,' the battle cry of the Allies, with `religion,' was good propaganda for the Catholic Church. No one ever found out who dropped the bombs and the usual conspiracy theories split Rome. The anti-Germans accused the Germans, the pro-Germans

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accused the `barbarous Anglo-Saxon gangsters.' Cynics claimed that the Vatican had managed to bomb its own territory in order to be considered a victim of the War, arguing that the bombs had been aimed with such precision as to cause the least possible damage. A group of jokers announced that the bombs were dropped by Tito's partisans because the Pope did not include Tito in his prayers and because he had not ordered the Catholic Croats to join Tito's Communist Army. Tito was probably amused to hear that he was being credited with having such resources. In the spring of 1944, just a few months before the liberation of Rome, paranoia turned fear into the dreadful panic of the trapped. The diplomats became convinced that, at any moment, the Germans would take them all captive, including the Pope, and transport them to Germany. The German Ambassador to the Vatican tried to reassure them that this was not the case, but this only increased their suspicions. Even attempts to calm them by the Italian Ambassador to the Holy See, Bernardo Attolico di Adelfa, backfired, as he had previously been the Italian Ambassador to Berlin. As the tension increased, the whole population within the City State, Vatican officials, the diplomats, certain politicians from the Italian Christian Party hiding from the fascist Police, their families and staff, became territorial, intolerant, irritable and even aggressive. Typically, in the case of the diplomats this was vented, more often than not, by muttering verbal insults behind the backs of those they were insulting. Gone were the uplifting jokes from the beginning of their incarceration. Even the ever courteous and charming, Sir Francis d'Arcy Osborne, no longer joked and the other diplomats stopped teasing him about the affection he shared with Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother (that he would remain a bachelor as long as she remained married). I rather missed his excellent rendition of the `old chestnut' which he would repeat `ad nauseam'. "The difference between a diplomat and a lady is that, when

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a diplomat says `yes', it means `maybe', when he says `maybe', it implies `no', and when he says `no', he is not a diplomat. When a lady says `no', it implies `maybe', when she says `maybe', it means `yes', and when she says `yes', it means that she is not a lady." I discovered another way of finding out what was happening inside the Vatican when a friend took me to a nearby pizzeria, the meeting place for all the builders, gardeners and window cleaners who worked inside the Vatican Walls. My friend introduced me to the owner, Bonafede, a chatty and jovial `Romano de Roma.' It was a good place to listen for Vatican gossip. One of Bonafede's favourite stories was about the tarts that were smuggled into the Vatican, to `relieve the bachelors'. Dressed as nuns they would be passed through the Sant'Anna entrance. Bonafede would claim that a `certain' Polish diplomat, claimed he had had sex with one of them without disrobing her, giving him the pleasure of two sins. Bonafede, who normally talked loudly, always told this particular story `sotto voce'. At the end of October 1943, Dr. Hans Wolf de Salis, my boss in the International Red Cross in Rome, knowing of my access to the Vatican, asked me to pass a copy of a letter he had sent to his superior in Geneva, to the British representative in the Vatican. I was rather proud to be asked and the letter was delivered. It contained the following text: "The Situation of the Jews in Italy: The situation of the Jews in northern Italy seems exactly the same as here in Rome, where many people are being arrested and detained. The Army chiefs have absolutely no say in the matter, the whole operation is in the exclusive hands of the SS, who are answerable to no-one, not even to the military High Command, so I'm afraid that for the present we cannot possibly hope to intervene either. Our task is more and more wearing on the nerves, and there is the extra fatigue caused by having to work long hours of overtime virtually every day. People we were looking after, as well as unofficial

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The Author's Letter of Introduction from the Red Cross, signed by Dr. Hans Wolf de Salis, was a very useful document, respected by the Germans.

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helpers, even neighbours, are continually being arrested on charges which carry the most serious consequences. Political detainees in prison are being partially transferred from Italian to German hands and a huge number of Italians are trying to go into hiding. Illegality stalks the land and people are turning to us from all sides, in the hope of getting some advice." Although paranoid, the Diplomatic inmates of the Vatican City had many reasons to be fearful, not just for themselves, but for all they felt responsible for, their relatives, friends and allies throughout Europe. Despite all this, a great many people were helped, rescued and protected through the efforts of those within the Vatican, though quite a few minds were lost. After the War, Sir Francis d'Arcy Osborne spent most of his retirement in Rome, a city he loved and was loved by. Whenever he needed some extra money, often because of his own generosity, the Roman aristocracy would organise an exhibition of his paintings and help him by buying them. Just before the end of his life, he inherited the title of Duke of Leeds, which died out with him in 1964. It could not have gone to rest with a better person. Sir Francis d'Arcy Osborne was a real gentleman and, as his friend Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, is reported to have said, he had the neatest and loveliest of feet. Kosta Cukic became a political refugee when Tito took over Yugoslavia after the war. Years later, I ran into him in Paris. He was still talking about his time inside the Vatican, this time with some considerable nostalgia.

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Giorgio de Chirico

This evening, as I had dinner in the house of an art dealer, I saw a painting by Giorgio De Chirico, hanging on the wall of his dining room. It was from his cubist period, showing an empty public space in a ghost town with some mannequin like statues. It was a pleasant reminder of the time, in the 1950s in Rome, when De Chirico, despite his eminent position in the world of art, and being 30 years my senior, enjoyed my company. He said that joking with me took him back to his youth. He was a consummate tease who also loved being teased back. Even when he was painting in his studio he would mutter some nonsensical rhyme to himself, such as "I like Gide, I like Claudel - but I prefer crème caramel," teasingly playing with one of several languages he knew. I would, semi-seriously, call him "maestrissimo" or "pictor optimus," which amused him. Even today, De Chirico is always referred to as an enigma. He was of Italian Sicilian and Italian Genoese parentage yet born in Greece, where he spent his childhood. He studied art in Athens, Florence and Germany. By 1911 he had become a dominant figure of the Paris art world. Then, just as Surrealism reached its peak with André Breton's Surrealistic manifesto in 1926, he outraged it by returning to figurative painting. His Sicilian ancestry gave him a rather mystic and intimidating dignity, which, together with his eccentricity and eclectic background, gave rise to the enigmatic image that he cultivated with extreme pleasure, and his `about face' on Surrealism merely helped to underpin that image. We often sat together on the steps of Piazza di Spagna, near his penthouse in Rome, when he would talk, at great length, about his break with Surrealism. Judging by the nostalgic tone he used when speaking on the subject, I suspect he regretted some of it.

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Here are some of his thoughts and his reasoning behind the break: "The aim of classical painting was to help the observer improve his or her sense of harmony, to attain the relaxation that comes from serenity or beauty, to lead him or her towards the truth, which is mainly achieved through our sensory perception and experience. With the advent of Surrealism, we started being guided more by the mind's abstractions than by our senses. Abstract Surrealistic painting stimulates the mind's abstract activity, and its fantasies. By increasing the activity of our mind, we increase our mind's negative characteristics, which are pretentiousness, aggressiveness, cruelty, wickedness and perversion. In fact, the founders of Surrealism even came to worship the Marquis de Sade. By increasing the mind's activity, Surrealism encourages its fantasies, its speculations and its exaltations, which are the enemies of reality. The mind tends to replace reality with virtuality, an invention of the mind's desires. Surrealists apparently need an increasing amount of drugs and alcohol to produce their fantasies. Surrealism also contributed to the rise of abstract and absurd ideologies, such as Fascism, Nazism and Communism. A Surrealistic mind sees the world through its capricious wishfulness, which only sees what it wants to see and ignores anything that is contrary to its expectations. A Surrealist's abstract painting encourages mediocre minds to feel important, which I decided to stop doing. Surrealistic painting, for the observer dominated by his mind, is a mirror in which his or her narcissism seeks its illusions. Surrealists are the leaders of modernistic imbecility." De Chirico asked me, several times, to sit for him so he could do a portrait of me dressed as a Montenegrin bandit or a Dalmatian pirate. However, I never did, I told him I was super- 18 -

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stitious and thought that portraits brought bad luck. His response was to call me a Balkan peasant. He died aged 90, in Rome, in 1978. He had always said that his longevity was due to his joking mentality which meant he saw life as an `opera buffa'. Whenever I visited his grave, in the Church of San Francesco a Ripa, a sense of lightness would invade me. It was a feeling he always inspired in those he could joke with, or tease, or be teased by. De Chirico was one of many artists and sculptors I have met throughout the years in Paris, Rome, New York and London. I developed a new theory about the visual arts, which I explained in my book `The Origin of the Mind and its Follies'. A painter or sculpture depicts a moment of static and sterile lifelessness. There is nothing `created'. `Objets d'Art' have even been known to intimidate a particularly sensitive audience, causing dizziness or fainting. It is a medically recognised condition known as Stendahl syndrome, after the author, Stendahl, who was the first to recognise and describe it. Nature is alive, it moves, vibrates and radiates. An artistic rendition cannot recreate that - it can only entomb it, turning natural beauty into something still and dead. Throughout history our `artistic creativity' has destroyed vast swathes of natural beauty. It is almost as if, by copying it and manipulating the image, we feel we own it, we feel the excitement of control, which makes us feel important. To covet or purchase such an image degrades nature, and desensitises us to the true harmony of natural beauty. We are excited by the deforming power of a Picasso, we even admire the ugliness of the women in his art. We never ask ourselves if, in spite of his renowned sexual vigour, whether Picasso or his admirers would have procreated with women that look like those in his paintings. Art galleries are mausoleums, where the mourners creep around in studied silence under the bored gravity of attendant pallbearers. I have seldom seen people coming out of these galleries look- 19 -

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ing happy or serene, as one might, having just observed a beautiful view in the open countryside. Art lovers insist that exposure to art has an ennobling effect. If this is the case, it is difficult to explain why so many brutal criminals can love art or be artistically creative. Many Nazis were passionate art collectors. Hitler was a painter, and Stalin wrote poetry. Artists are often arrogant and aggressive people. In fact, there have been periods in history when a great burgeoning of artistic creativity coincided with atrocious crimes and violence, as in the 5th century BC in Greece, and the 15th and 16th centuries in Western Christendom. The Spanish Inquisition took place during the golden age of Spanish art. The 19th century and the first half of the 20th century were rich in artistic creativity, but also produced a series of colonial wars, two world wars and countless persecutions and massacres. Perhaps Damian Hirst is closer to the truth about creative art than even he could imagine. I will always remember one of De Chirico's theories about life. He truly believed that relationships between men and women should follow a tradition of ancient Greece. There, women were considered to fall into one of three categories, one type was for intellectual pursuits, which in Ancient Greece was provided by `hetairas', one type for procreation, those with maternal attributes, who might be his wife, and one for sex, either concubines, slaves or prostitutes. He said "I would have no great desire to have sex for pleasure with the mother of my children, nor do I find erudite women sexually attractive. As for tarts, one should not contemplate having children by such women, nor expect to have a serious discussion with them, about the meaning of life, or the existence of god." De Chirico was married twice. His first wife was Raïssa Calzo, a Russian Ballet star and his second, Isabella Packswer (or Far), was extremely knowledgeable and highly intelligent.

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I often accompanied him to a bordello around the corner from his house. Both wives knew about his visits there. He had no children as he was never attracted, as Picasso was, to broody women.

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Spies - from Kurtna to Manci

Some copies of the re-print of my book, `Spy in the Vatican arrived from my Italian publisher today, and it made me think about the many spies I had known, during and after World War II. In 1942, two friends taught me a great deal about the world of espionage, one an Italian who worked in Italian Intelligence (SIM - Servizio Informatzioni Militari) and the other a Slovenian, who worked in `Russicum', a Vatican college, established in 1928 to educate missionaries to go into the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Most spies are made through circumstance rather than choice. Information is always a valuable commodity, but in the midst of war it also gives the trafficker a sense of control over a generally chaotic situation, when little else does. In a world full of threat and uncertainty, to have information that someone is willing to pay for, either in money, or in kind (travel passes, identity documents, release from prison or just to be left alone) is to have the illusion of safety. Then comes the thrill of being successful, having the skills to win through and survive. The most successful spies, at least those I recognised as such, could be generous, charming and intelligent and beguiling. They were also ruthless, unscrupulous, often sexually frigid, and certainly had little or no sense of humour. Above all, just like gamblers and high risk-takers, they were Adrenaline Junkies, especially the double agents. Without the `rush' they received from their work they easily became apathetic or depressed. Alexander Kurtna was one of the most obscure double agents. I first met him in 1941, at the Hungarian Academy in Rome, a gathering place with readily available food. I went on to meet him many times, in many different places. He was a small insignificant and compliant mouse of a man who travelled paths laid out for him by others. His story is one of circumstance; he was moulded, from an early age, into what

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he became, but I doubt his teachers could have foreseen how far their student would go. He was born in Estonia in 1914, when it was part of Tsarist Russia. At 18 he entered the Russian Seminary to prepare to become an Orthodox priest. By the time he was twenty he had converted to Catholicism and entered the Jesuit Seminary in Dubno, Poland. He was an exceptionally dedicated and enthusiastic student. He possessed extremely valuable assets, such as a knowledge of the Estonian, Russian, Polish, Ukrainian, German, English and Italian languages, so the Jesuits arranged a special `scholarship' for him to study at `Russicum' in Rome. Whilst at Russicum he became a frequent visitor to the Vatican Library and Archives, gaining entry by explaining that he was researching the history of the Catholic Church's relationship with the Baltic Countries. It was here that he became a close friend of the influential French Cardinal Tisserant, who was in charge of the Congregation of Eastern Churches. Tisserant employed him as the official translator for his organisation, which gave Kurtna access to the Vatican's correspondence with its agents or friends in Soviet Union. Kurtna played an influential part in Tisserant's plans to contact pro-Catholic partisans within the Soviet Union, by using agents posing as Chaplains to the German Army that occupied the Soviet Union from June 1941. He also befriended Monsignor Montini (future Pope Paul VI), who was pro-secretary of the Vatican State, and had a particular interest in Soviet Policy in Russia, and the Baltic Countries. Kurtna travelled extensively throughout the Baltic States both before and after they became part of the Soviet Union in 1940. In that year he notched up another `scholarship', this time from the Soviet Academy in Moscow to study medieval policies of the Vatican.

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In the meantime he also paid regular visits to the German Historical Institute in Rome. This Institute was a cover for German spies who operated under Major Herbert Kappler, the Gestapo representative at the German Embassy in Rome who had a special interest in Vatican activity. Kurtna notched up another `scholarship' from the Institute's Research Fund. When Kappler discovered Kurtna's activities on behalf of the Soviets, he employed him to send disinformation to Moscow. In July 1942, Italian counter-espionage, not knowing about Kurtna's association with German intelligence, arrested him, accusing him of being a Soviet Agent. After a long investigation, Kurtna was condemned to death just as the Italians surrendered to the Allied forces in 1943. The Germans immediately occupied the north and centre of Italy. The Gestapo chief in Rome (Kappler) released Kurtna from prison, and continued to use him to misinform Russia and keep him up to date on the Vatican's activities. Kurtna also returned to his job of translator with the Congregation of Eastern Churches, and they too continued to use him to pass their disinformation to both the Germans and the Soviets. The last time I saw Kurtna and his gloomy Russian wife, Anna Hublitz (who was from Leningrad and worked in Italian radio broadcasting propaganda to Eastern Europe) was back at the Hungarian Academy in Rome, just a few days before the Allied forces finally reached and liberated the Italian capital. In 1945 Kurtna was kidnapped by Soviet agents and taken to Russia where he apparently ended up in a labour camp and disappeared into oblivion. His wife was also never heard of again. If he had survived the war I doubt he would have had any kind of happy existence. In contrast, Dusko Popov, probably one of the greatest spies of the Second World War, conducted a virtuoso performance as double agent between the British and Germans, whilst living life

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to the full as an ebullient playboy. Dusko Popov is famous for informing J. Edgar Hoover, then head of the US Intelligence Service, of the impending Japan attack on Pearl Harbour, and being ignored. The Germans knew what the Japanese intended, because they had been asked to get them copies of the British battle plans which decimated the Italian Navy at Taranto. The German Military Attaché in Lisbon info rmed Dusko and told him to go and tell the Americans. The Germans did not want the Americans to come into the war. The rest is history. Dusko tried, unsuccessfully, to discover why America did not do anything to prevent the attack, or reduce its damage. He died, in 1981, convinced that Americans allowed Pearl Harbour to happen as it did because they needed a `casus belli' to enter the war. Dusko had wealth, charm and `joie de vivre'. He had been paid well for his activities during the war and when he retired to the South of France, he built and sold a villa resort, and bought a magnificent villa for himself in Opio. He had one son from his first marriage before the war, and married again, a young and lovely Swedish girl, with whom he had three sons. However, despite all this, as he got older, like many of his English, German and French colleagues, that I met at his villa after the war, he was prone to episodes of deep depression. One such colleague was the former British Intelligence agent and author, Graham Greene. His great love, the coquettish Yvonne Cloetta, told me that she could not reconcile his passion for danger and taking risks with the depression he suffered from. Greene and I would meet in the harbour at Antibes and I sometimes had to look away when I saw him walking towards me with Yvonne's cocker spaniel. The similarity in the gloomy look on the face of the man and on his mistress's dog was just too sad. I remember, on one of the many afternoons spent under the shade of an olive tree in Dusko's courtyard in Opio after the war, sitting with Dusko and Graham Greene. I listened while they talked about their operations in Lisbon

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(Above) Dusko Popov (Below) The Author being interviewed in Henry J Beans in the King's Road, by Barbara Necek of French Television, for a documentary on Dusko Popov, (June 2007).

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in the spring and summer of 1944, when they had prepared, through their contacts with the German resistance, to overthrow Hitler and end the war. Greene had established a good relationship with Otto John, the German resistance's representative in Lisbon, who worked for Lufthansa. Dusko, through his friend, Johann Jebsen, was working for Admiral Canaris, the head of German Military Intelligence. Both Dusko's and Greene's men were in direct contact with Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, the man who was planning both Hitler's assassination and a military rebellion against the Nazi regime. After the failure of the attempt to eliminate Hitler, on the 20th of July 1944, all their contacts were killed by the Gestapo, along with Admiral Canaris. Dusko and Greene had been surprised and frustrated because Kim Philby had been against any help being given to the German resistance in their plotting of an anti-Nazi coup, and obstructed their work. They discussed the truth behind Philby's behaviour. German resistance intended to seek peace once they had overthrown the Nazi regime, but Soviet Russia, Philby's paymaster, was already advancing towards central Europe and Germany. Stalin had no interest in peace, his supreme aim was to occupy vast areas of Europe. Dusko and Greene went on to talk about another episode that day. In December 1948 Philby organised a group of Albanians in Malta to be sent to overthrow their country's Communist government. Then, after having shaken hands with them, and wished them good luck with the liberation of their country, Philby informed the Soviet KGB, to inform the Albanian Communist government of the time and place of their arrival. They all perished. I asked Dusko why, suspecting that Philby was working for Soviet Intelligence, no one had done anything about it. "Because everybody feared the consequences of telling any- 27 -

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one else of their suspicions," he explained. On 19th July 1994, I went to Sotheby's in London to see the auction of Kim Philby's private belongings that his Russian widow was selling, in order to survive. I was curious, I wanted to know what kind of people would bid for the personal items of a man who had committed treason and sent so many people to their death, mainly for his own personal excitement. The bidders were mainly gloomy looking men. As I mentioned, having met many spies, I noticed that most rarely laugh and few have any sense of humour, which reminds me of these lines from Thomas Carlyle's `Sartor Resartus': "The man who cannot laugh, is not only fit for treason, stratagems and spoils, but his whole life is already a treason and a stratagem." Most spies, with some notable exceptions, appear to be people who do not like themselves very much. They tend to look depressed, mournful or dejected, as one can see in many of the photos of `the Cambridge spies', Blunt, Philby, Burgess and MacLean. In fact, I have no doubt that amongst the organisations that specialise in catching spies are those skilled in physiognomy, it would make sense to me. Paradoxically, many intelligence service agents are seldom that intelligent; they believe they are clever and that prevents them achieving acuity or brilliance. The intrigue and constant distrust involved in surreptitiously gathering information or catching those who would steal it, and all the while trying to hide one's true identity or purpose, is a strenuous and tense activity. Persistent tension and strain invariably leads to melancholy. Anthony Blunt's double life produced an aesthetic irony. He was an eminent art historian, a director of the Courtauld Institute and Keeper of, then Adviser to, the Queen's art collection. At the same time he was an ardent supporter of the Soviet Union, a regime whose idea of art was based on grave and ugly `Socialist Realism'.

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Another episode of Dusko's work for British Intelligence turned out to be a farce worthy of the stage. Recently much about `The May fa i r 's Mata Hari' has appeared in the British press, galvanised by the `thousand-page file released at the National Archives'. Both the allusion to 1914 and the assumptions of the title are mistaken. It seems De Chirico's description of the Surrealist's mentality `seeing only what it wants to see' applies. In 1935, a young woman of Hungarian parentage, Malwina Gertler, was brought to London by her lover, Edward Stanislas Weisblatt. She soon became known as Manci, which well suited her charm and exuberant generosity. Manci was twenty-seven years old, of simple background and modest education. Edward Weisblatt was a wealthy Polish arms dealer, who had made a fortune selling to both sides in the Spanish Civil War. He moved her into his apartment at the Dorchester Hotel. In 1938, Weisblatt transferred his business to Paris, leaving her to enjoy his apartment and the chauffeur driven Rolls-Royce. Before he left, he arranged a marriage for her, so that she could gain British Citizenship, and become a Lady, to Lord Howard of Effingham. Manci never consummated the marriage, and Lord Effingham never insisted, as a gentleman he respected the arrangement. Manci was a very loving soul, she adored living in London, being courted and escorted. She had many amorous relationships, mostly with foreign diplomats, including Ivan Maisky, the Soviet Ambassador. She also emulated the other women in her circle and spent time helping at the `United Services Canteen Club' in London, mingling with service men. Life in wartime London, for an attractive flirt, from an unsophisticated background, with a title, an exotic accent, an apartment at the Dorchester, chauffeur driven Rolls-Royce, a wealthy and absent lover, was exciting and full, and she embraced it. It was probably inevitable that British Intelligence should

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start suspecting that she was using her charms to gather information for Weisblatt, and that she used the diplomatic bags of her foreign lovers in London, to send it to him. She was soon caught up in a vicious circle. The stronger the suspicions of British Intelligence, the more the news spread, the more foreign diplomats courted her. The more they courted her, the more confused she became. The more confused and bemused she appeared, the `naïve vagueness' mentioned in the MI5 reports about her, the more convinced were British Intelligence and the foreign diplomats that she was playing an astute game, pretending to be simple in order to gain the information her lover wanted. Then the French Intelligence Service, which considers all successful or clever foreigners to be spies, came up with the idea that Manci's Polish lover in Paris was a double agent, spying for the Germans and Russians. The French informed the British of their suspicion, which made the British even more convinced they were right about Manci. In February 1941, Manci was arrested and interned in Holloway Prison. Dusko was brought in from Lisbon to interrogate her. He was chosen because he had been born in the Banat when it had been a Hungarian province, spoke the language and knew the mentality. The moment Dusko started interviewing her he realised that she was typical of Hungarian women, who simply loved to flirt. He also discovered that everything that his British colleagues found suspicious had a more obvious and less sinister explanation. Her confusion was not an act to gain the confidence of her diplomatic targets, but that of an insecure woman, far from her humble roots, out of her depth in London society and surrounded by lovers, eager to exploit her. Her heavy accent was not the clever seductive manipulation of a spy, but characteristic of Hungarians who are in love with their own language. Dusko explained to his colleagues, "Hungarians

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are deeply proud of their language. Ever since 1848, when their great romantic and nationalistic revolution established the Magyar culture, background, and language, they have insisted on speaking any foreign language with strong overtones of their own." Her association with foreign diplomats can also be explained by the magnet that one foreigner has for another, when both are away from home. Her job at the `United Service Canteen Club' was not an opportunity to pick the brains of careless servicemen, but she did it, as she told Dusko, somewhat offended, "because most other [titled] Ladies did it." In the end Dusko, who loved to joke, explained to those in charge of Manci's affair, that, as the West considers sex a commodity to barter with, it would not understand Manci's love of sex for pleasure. Dusko said that his remark had managed to raise a rare smile amongst his colleagues. Possibly because they knew that his code name `Tricycle' was derived from the fact that he always insisted that the most pleasurable sex was with two women at the same time. Manci was released after 5 month's internment, without charge, and without any restrictions on her movements or any kind of follow up of the case. Her genuine complaint was that she had no idea why she had been arrested in the first place. In fact, today with the release of the archives, it is clear there was never any evidence against her, merely the suspicions of a government at war, of a beautiful and popular foreigner. Four years later, in 1945, Manci emigrated to Australia. Her one regret appears to have been leaving behind a friend, Randolph Churchill's Hungarian cook. Perhaps the smell of Hungarian cooking in his kitchen made her nostalgic for a home she could not return to. In Australia, at least, were many Hungarians who had settled there after fleeing the Soviet invasion of their country. Manci was lucky not to have suffered the same fate as Mata

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Hari had in France, and been shot. In England, one is innocent until proven guilty. In America, the richer you are, the more innocent you appear to be. In the rest of the world, however, you are guilty before proven innocent. On the subject of spies in society, Lady Elizabeth Anson, the great grand balls and party organiser, asked me to help her with the annual dance, in Claridge's, for the Foreign Military Attaches (in reality spies), which was one of the most difficult and generally boring. The guest list included `British Liaison officers' (a euphemism for British spies) whose work was to `liaise' with these Foreign Military attaches. During the evening I found myself dancing with the wife of a British Brigadier. As I was the only man in dinner jacket amongst all the full dress uniforms, she asked me which country I represented. "I have no country," I answered with a smile and a bantering tone. "I am a man of the world." My jovial attitude must have encouraged her to ask me what I did, to which I answered still smiling that I was a spy, however I was freelance. She erupted into uncontrolled laughter. At the end of the dance I took her back to her table, at which, after a few moments first most of the women started to laugh (the spies being mainly men and slower to let go), then the rest. Soon the whole room was ripped with laughter as the news spread that, amongst all these foreign military attachés and British liaison officers there was a `freelance spy'. Later Lady Elizabeth Anson thanked me, saying that the Ball was a great success and that it lasted more than one hour longer than usual. That story reminds me of another grand function, that of the 70th Birthday party of Aidan Crawley, at the Savoy in 1978, given by his daughter, Harriet. At dinner, I was seated next to Emma Soames, Sir Winston Churchill's daughter, and next to her was Fitzroy Mclean, who had, together with Churchill,

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actively assisted Tito during WWII. The room was full of `la crème de la crème' of British society and the food and wine were excellent. At the end of the meal Fitzroy Mclean quite abruptly said to me, "I know all you refugees from Yugoslavia hate my guts for helping Tito come to power." I saw Emma Soames wince at the slightly incongruous remark and, I imagined, on behalf of her father. "Not for one moment," I quickly responded, "quite the contrary I am extremely grateful to you and Emma's father. After all, if it had not been for the support you gave to Tito, I would probably have returned home and be lucky to be teaching in a small village school somewhere in the Balkans with few comforts and less resources, instead of here, in this elegant company, drinking champagne, eating fine food and talking to you." They both laughed. There is one last episode relating to spying, a really curious story told to me by Spasoje Sterdjevic, a member of the Yugoslav Government in exile (from the German occupation) in London during the war. One day he was asked by one of his friends, an important member of the British Intelligence Service, to help him on a special mission. Sposoje's job on this mission was to gather certain information about other foreign politicians and diplomats in exile in London. He was told to concentrate on their personal life, family and friends. It had come to the attention of British Intelligence that a number of these consulted a particular fortune-teller in Chelsea. They arranged for the fortune-teller to let them know when a foreign politician or diplomat made an appointment. Sposoje's contact would then ask him for information on the client, which was passed back to the fortune-teller, along with instructions as to what he should say to the client, that would make him act in the best interests of Great Britain. The intimate and personal information from Spasoje was of

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crucial value, as the more accurate the fortune-teller was about the client's private life, the more the client would trust his advice on political and diplomatic matters. Strangely, after he retired, Spasoje became an assiduous client of fortune-tellers. I never found out if this was because he believed in it, or because, in his old age, it took him back to an exciting part of his life.

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Porfirio Rubirosa

Recently, at a dinner party given by a Cuban friend of mine in Chelsea, I met the ambassador of the Dominican Republic. We spent much of the evening talking about a mutual friend from that country, Porfirio Rubirosa. Rubirosa was considered the greatest playboy ever by some, the most successful seducer of women in the world by others, and the most utter bastard that ever existed by most husbands whose wives considered him irresistible. Rubirosa's first wife was Fior de Oro, the eldest daughter of Generalissimo Rafael Leonidas Molina Trujillo, dictator of the Dominican Republic. Her father was so against the marriage that she went on hunger strike until he relented. The wedding eventually took place in December 1932. This union gained Rubirosa promotion from an officer in the army to a diplomat in Paris. The marriage didn't last, but a sequence of diplomatic posts from his first father-in-law, and an accumulation of wealth from some of his wives, did. He went on to marry four more times, Danielle Darrieux, the successful and beautiful French actress, the American billionairess Doris Duke, the multi-millionairess, Barbara Hutton, and finally Odile Rodin, his fifth and last wife, a beautiful photographic model. Rubirosa had love affairs throughout and between his marriages. His hit list included actresses, such as Dolores del Rio, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Ava Gardner, Joan Crawford, Jayne Mansfield, Marilyn Monroe, Susan Hayward, Rita Hayworth, powerful women such as Tina Onassis and Evita Peron, and a long list of titled English women, French countesses, German baronesses and Italian princesses, a chain of hotel chambermaids and manicurists. In fact Rubirosa never discriminated against any woman because of her age, status, race or profession. He said, "When a woman is relaxed she is beautiful. I find all women beautiful, perhaps because they always relax with me. I joke with them."

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His success with women was attributed to his many virtues and talents; his extraordinary charm, a `joie de vivre', his gentleness, his protective care, his innocuousness, all of which created an atmosphere of relaxed abandonment, even happiness, around him. I had also noticed that, in our calculating selfcentred and stingy world, a great deal of Rubirosa's seductive charm lay in his generosity, gallantry and courtesy. Much of the money his rich consort gave him, he would immediately spend, with great panache, entertaining and pampering her, which she would find irresistible. Barbara Hutton, even after the divorce, said of him, "In his way, he was the perfect gentleman." Rubirosa never took work seriously. "A `viveur' is too busy living to have time for work," he told me, with his characteristic candid smile, which made whatever he said so credible. I believe Porfirio Rubirosa made more money without working, or asking for it, than almost anyone else in history. My first meeting with Rubirosa was in December 1945. He had been posted to Rome as a counsellor in the Dominican Embassy. He was then married to Danielle Darrieux and already a famous seducer of women. It was an ideal marriage, as she was continuously filming, leaving him plenty of free time for his adventures. We met at a big party given for him by a patrician lady, who had already spread the word that she had had him (or he had had her) the previous summer. The gossip was that she would never be able to enjoy sex with another man as Rubirosa's prowess had spoilt it for her. The atmosphere was tense as the female guests vied with one another to get close and meet the renowned lover. My girlfriend at that time was a young Italian painter. She was seated at dinning table between myself and Rubirosa and never once turned to me throughout the whole meal. At the end of dinner she told me, with a radiant smile, that he had agreed to sit for her. After dinner they stuck to each other like limpets, and at midnight I watched them furtively slip away.

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I bumped into him again, a couple of days later, at the opening of an exhibition at La Feluca gallery, which specialised in works of art created by diplomatic residents in Italy. No-one noticed the paintings, the women were looking at Rubirosa, the men at each other and he was prowling the gallery like a confident predator sniffing out his next prey. He greeted me as if I was one of his oldest friends, with that sincere smile and asked me to lunch with him the following day, which I accepted. I felt a great empathy towards this man, who seemed so desperate for a male friend and I found myself responding to his charm. His indiscretion with my girlfriend seemed forgivable, a force of nature. After we had both left Rome, we ran into each other many times in Paris, London, New York and Cannes. He was always the same, always appearing sincerely pleased to see me. Each time we met he would ask after my girlfriend Anna-Maria, the painter he had seduced, and each time I would answer, to his deep satisfaction and amusement, that she still admired the imprint his body had left on her bed sheets. From the moment I met Rubirosa I had wanted to write a book about him. When I met him in London in 1964, I asked him to lunch and explained that I would like to interview him. He seemed delighted, mainly because it was the first time a man had asked to write about him, his life and his philosophy. "Female interviewers only want names and gossip," he told me, "which I refuse to disclose. Much of my success, I think, is due to my discretion." In fact, he never made the slightest gesture or innuendo in public to indicate whether the lady he was meeting, greeting or talking to was, or ever had been his lover. On the other hand, most of the many women I met, who had had an affair with him, would talk openly about it; even boast as if it had been a sacred pilgrimage, or a feather in their bonnets. Since he refrained from talking about his conquests, his reputation grew without hindrance, buoyed up by the imagination

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of those women who had not yet had the experience. Finding out what lay behind his impeccable correctness, his perfect manners and chivalry became a mythical quest for women and he became legend. Our lunch was at Claridge's Causerie. Afterwards we settled on a sofa in a corner of the hotel's foyer and talked for hours as a quartet of musicians played light Viennese music. It was the perfect atmosphere to listen to Rubirosa as he talked about his life and his ideas, a bit like being in an Austrian operetta. Unfortunately I could not take notes, as I felt it might have inhibited him, but I remember most of what he told me, because I was so intrigued. It is always easier to remember when one is interested. What is more, he surprised me for someone who appeared to be so superficial. Rubirosa started by telling me about his childhood. When his father had been exiled by the new Government, he had been forced to follow him and leave behind his country, his play mates and playground. "It was, perhaps, because of this tragedy, that I have never grown up. I missed out on the fun of childhood, so now I'm Peter Pan, with a child's craving for play," he smiled. " The positive side of play is that it does not harm anyone and it has no victims or victors; it also gives one an inexhaustible energy and time for play mates." As he went on talking, I suddenly remembered Ava Gardner, whom I used to see sometimes in London, telling me that Rubirosa was the most jovial lover, a great fun, because he used to take her back to her playful infancy. I also remembered AnnaMaria describing her affair with him as a unique pleasure, like playing with sex in innocence. The vulgar media accused him of being a cynical and unscrupulous exploiter of rich women, that he lived in luxury at their expense, that he was unfaithful to them and spent their money on other women. "Wealth for me is a toy and a toy is there to play with. There is no point in money unless you spend it," Rubirosa explained.

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"In fact there should be a law obliging the rich to spend their wealth. I disagree with Christ, who advised the rich to give all their wealth to the poor. This would have meant making the poor rich. Nothing is worse than a `nouveau riche'. He becomes vindictive. People are bizarre, many of them, mainly the rich, accuse me of exploiting rich women, but rich women love being exploited, as they all live with the guilt of being rich. These people who blame me for exploiting rich women never blame the rich for exploiting the poor. There is no wealth which was created without exploiting the poor." Rubirosa paused for a moment before going on to say why he only lived for the present. "It is the pleasure of the moment which provides that delightful feeling of eternity. Thinking about time or the future, kills the pleasure of the present." He emphasised. "Living for the present," he went on, one can dedicate oneself totally, unconditionally, and above all with the maximum generosity to one's woman of the moment, giving yourself completely. Many people ask me where I find the sexual potency and readiness to make love at any given moment. My answer is that living for the moment eliminates any inhibiting preconceptions or prejudices of the past, or worries for the future. Being uninhibited by the past and free from worries for the future are the best stimulants for sexual energy. Thoughts about time are stressful, and stress is the greatest killer of sexual prowess." "Many people insist that women are attracted to you because of your fame as a great lover, which helps to make you a successful lover." I said. "Fame does facilitate success, but it can also create problems. Seduced by fame can make some women become suddenly frigid in bed, for fear of not being up to my expectations. That is when you have to use the most delicate caresses, increase baby talk and humour, especially humour at your own expense, to ease them into becoming playful. Obviously, it can take time, but time does not matter in play, as play can go on forever. It feeds on itself. Once you have shown your vulnerabilities, women become

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maternal, which relaxes them." "Do you know that some people call you `Monsieur, ever ready'", I said jokingly, "Have you ever not been?" "You only fail when you go to bed with a women fearing failure. You develop a fear of failing when you go to bed with a woman to prove yourself, to possess her in order to enhance your ego. I never go to bed with a woman in order to have sex. I go to bed to play, to play with the most beautiful and delicate toys in the world, women. Sex comes as part of play, spontaneously." "Some of the press has credited you with various vices," I said thanking the waiter for the tea we had ordered. "Fortunately, so many people talk so much about my bad reputation and my vices, that most women think I must be a real devil. The best compliment some of the press paid me was when they called me a `dangerous man'. Nothing stimulates a woman's adventurous spirit more than a man classified as dangerous. Rich women in particular love playing with danger. It excites them, and they can afford it. What is more, it adds to their glamour which is their way of becoming attractive". "Some people have also accused you of being dishonest with women." "I have never been dishonest in my life. I have never promised anything to anyone. It is not in the nature of a `viveur' to make a promise as it would limit the most precious thing he has, his freedom." "Do you feel that you were helped by any special force or circumstance in your life?" I asked after the quartet finished playing the `Blue Danube' for the third time. "Yes, yes," he answered after a thoughtful pause. "Two things, Diplomatic immunity and boxing," he grinned at my puzzled expression. "My diplomatic immunity made me feel immune to anything. My boxing training, and I fought many matches, helped me to keep calm whenever I was hit below the belt." "What do you think about the new generation of playboys?" "They belong to the `jeunesse dorée'. They are `fils du

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papa'", he laughed, "they have no style, and have no idea how to spend money elegantly or graciously. They don't know the meaning of generosity, because they don't have kindness or manners. As they have always been rich, they have no idea how to identify themselves with the needy. In fact, the new era of playboys will become vulgar and cruel because there will be more and more wealth and less and less kindness and gentleness, he sighed." He had interesting ideas about inheritance, which helped me when I came to write my book `Matriarchy in Post Capitalism'. He believed that inheritance should be passed down through the female line alone. This would greatly improve our overall quality of life because women were more generous by nature than men were. Men are mean, in fact, the richer the man, the meaner he becomes and the more miserable he makes life for his family, the community and the rest of humanity. I went on to ask him, "How do you explain the essence of charm, since so many insist that charm is your main attribute?" "Care and consideration." He answered after a pause. "And your sex-appeal?" "Charm." He repeated, rising to bow courteously to an elegant lady as she swept across the hallway. "Who is that?" I asked curiously. "I have no idea," he answered insincerely. "What is your definition of a playboy?" I asked as we walked towards the exit. "It is a boy who plays with life, and who considers life a toy," he laughed, giving me a friendly parting hug. It never occurred to me, when we separated that day, that I would never see Rubirosa again. In the early hours of July 6th 1965, the news flashed around the world, "Last night the popular playboy, Porfirio Rubirosa died instantly when his Ferrari hit a tree in the Bois de Boulogne, in Paris. He had spent the last night of his life in style, at a champagne party to celebrate the victory of his polo team in the French Cup.

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I was overcome with sadness for many days after I heard that news. I felt sorrow for the death of a grown-up infant who inspired such nostalgia for lost innocence in so many. Rubirosa died like his close friend and playmate, Ali Khan, as they had lived: instantly, both playing with their favourite toy, life, and both perhaps escaping from what they dreaded most, ageing.

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Charles Fawcett - A Man with a Mission

I have just visited Charles Fawcett, an American from South Virginia, whom I first met in Rome after the war and we have been good friends ever since. He has lived in Chelsea for the last 30 years. He has always been full of exuberance and enthusiasm, and exceptionally generous, even now, as he is dying from cancer, he still smiles, benevolently. I had often wondered, throughout the years, why Charles always appeared to get such a joy out of life. At 6-foot tall, with an athletic body and elegant features, I thought, perhaps, his physique had had something to do with his outlook, that the shape of our bodies influences our mentality. He seemed to be at peace with himself, even content. I believe this made him attractive to all the victims of life that he helped, and there were many. In return, they energised him, fuelling his enthusiasm and generosity, by their need of him. "I am always on a mission. The needs of others inspire me and helping them makes me enjoy life." He once explained. In fact, Charles's life is a catalogue of helping those in need. In 1940, at 21 years of age, Charles was in Nazi occupied France. As America was not yet in the war, Charles's passport allowed him to move around freely, and the suffering of the French prompted him to join the French Resistance. During his time in the Resistance he saved six Jewish girls from deportation to Germany by `marrying' them, then taking them to Portugal from where they could emigrate to America. When America entered the war at the end of 1941, he went to England, enlisted in the Royal Air Force and took part in the Battle of Britain. By 1945, he is in Italy trying to help the refugees who are fleeing from Soviet occupied Europe. With the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Charles is helping the Taliban against the Russians. During the Civil War in Bosnia, Charles is in Sarajevo trying to

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help those in need. Throughout all these `missions' I know the smile he wears, it is the happy smile of a man who is accomplishing his tasks. He is wearing it as I leave him, in the process of losing his fight with cancer, and I cannot shake the image from my mind. Perhaps nature compensates those who have spent their lives helping others and in his optimism he is convinced that there will be people in need of his help in the hereafter.

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Roman Rota

Today is the anniversary of the annulment by the Vatican Apostolic Tribunal of the Roman Rota, of my marriage to Franca, my first wife, which had taken place in Rome in 1952. When Franca decided to leave me and to start the annulment proceedings I told her to give as her reasons the fact that I had never believed in marriage as a sacred institution. I said that I would assume the role of an amoral person in front of the Vatican Court and convince them that I was a danger to her faith and to that of our three-year-old child. I have never so enjoyed playing any role in my life as that of a debauched bastard in front of those three Tribunal judges. Here are some moments I still remember with amusement. As the Monsignor placed the Bible in my hand and asked me to swear on it, I got into character: "I cannot swear on the Bible, because I am not a believer." I replied, handing the Bible back to him. "It is the word of God," the Monsignor intoned. To which I quickly responded with a slight flippancy, "For me, it is a book like any other book, written by men for themselves. Instead of swearing, I give you my word of honour, as a gentleman, to tell the truth." He then asked me to confirm my full name and date of my birth, which I gave him, and my religion. "I was baptised into the Orthodox Church," I answered. "The `so-called Orthodox', you mean,' the Monsignor retorted. "All beliefs are `so-called'," I smiled, "for instance, you are the `so-called' Catholic, which means universal, whereas Orthodox means the right one, both far from truth." He glared at me, biting his lower lip. After some other questions, the Monsignor, went on, "Your wife is accusing you of committing adultery many times during your marriage."

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"I have never committed adultery," I smiled again. "When I go to bed with a woman, I take her to bed with love. Forcing people to live and go to bed together without love, as the Church does, is a crime against love, decency and dignity." I answered, stifling my amusement as the Monsignor struggled to control himself. There were more questions, which I answered in keeping with my role. Then he said: "You have a child. You promised the Church that any progeny would be raised in the Catholic Faith." "My promise was not valid, because it was forced on me by blackmail. My wife wanted a Church wedding. The priest of the church in which the marriage took place insisted that he would only perform the ceremony if I signed a paper stating that any children we had would be brought up Catholic." "So you intend to bring up your child in your own faith," the Monsignor said with a touch of irony. "No," I said with some enthusiasm. "I am a fair man, since my wife is Catholic and I am Orthodox, I think it is only right to bring up my child as a Protestant." My performance as debauched and faithless bastard was successful. Two days later, as the world watched the Soviets shooting Hungarians during their 1956 uprising, he interviewed my wife. During the interview the Monsignor said to her: "It is a great shame that, whilst so many good Hungarian Catholics are being killed by Communists, your unfaithful husband is enjoying such a sinful life." Franca obtained her annulment unusually quickly, and we remained good and firm friends evermore. I had been nervous in the intimidating atmosphere of the Roman Rota, surrounded by crucifixes, but I was helped by my love of humour and my tendency to be reminded of de-dramatising jokes when faced with difficult situations. Seeing the three religious judges in front of me, I remembered the following: `What is a Catholic Priest? It is a person whom everyone calls father, but his children, who call him uncle. The definition of a

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Cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church is a priest in Technicolor.' As I left the Sacred Roman Rota I could not help thinking, as many do, that my marriage, my personal relationship with my wife and son, and my attitude to life had been judged by a Tribunal formed centuries ago by Roman Catholic Popes, elected by Roman Catholic Cardinals, who in turn were elected by Popes, all of whom were `so called' sexually abstinent, never married and certainly had never brought up a child. At that point I thought of my son's absurd situation upon the annulment of the marriage that produced him. He becomes born out of nothingness, out of the void. He becomes a bastard. It occurred to me that Jesus Christ, the pillar of Western Civilisation, was in an even more ridiculous situation: He was the result of his mother's adultery with the Holy Ghost. Later I was to emphasize, in my book Humour Therapy, that we are the only species able to be pathetic and ridiculous at the same time. A few weeks after my performance in the Roman Rota, I took Franca, my `former' wife, to lunch in the picturesque Piazza Navona. In the middle of lunch, she asked, looking at me inquisitively: "Tell me, sincerely, was it all true what you said to the Tribunal?"

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Peter Ustinov and Peter Sellers

Last night I saw Peter Ustinov's `One Man Show', at the London Haymarket Theatre. Peter made me feel sad because he was a genius manqué, a brilliant mind that was prevented from developing because of his success as an entertainer. We met in the summer of 1952 when he was Nero in the film `Quo Vadis'. I had a small part in the same film and he often gave me a lift from Cinecitta to Rome at the end of a day's filming. We became good friends. The better I got to know Peter, the more I came to respect his exceptional intelligence. His keen observation, his broad vision of the world, his penetrating knowledge of life and history, his languages, his sense of humour and his humaneness could have produced masterpieces in literature or science. This would have taught millions of young people about the world and the future, and helped them to open their mental shutters, if only he had not become a successful entertainer. He must have known that entertaining encourages mediocrity and there is nothing uglier than self-satisfied mediocrity. It hurt me to see old Peter still performing to a colourless crowd, however successfully entertaining and amusing he was. Last night, I noticed that Peter's generous self-mockery was less appealing to the audience than it had once been. Perhaps he did not realise that our rapidly evolving cult of individualism has brought narcissism to the fore and a narcissist is far less likely to be amused by self-mockery. Peter's intelligence did manage to stop him from becoming unpleasant, which seemed to be the norm for a lot of comedians, once they reach a certain age and success. I had parts in two films with popular Italian comedians, neither were pleasant experiences. One was with Alberto Sordi in `Arte di Arrangiarsi', who was consistently rude and disagreeable towards the extras and shouted at the cameraman. The other was with the diminutive Renato Rascel. He took one look at my

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height and had me replaced in that scene. He mistreated the electricians and technicians. When they laughed at him, he had them fired. On the other hand they both treated producers and directors quite differently. I often wondered why so many comedians turned nasty later in life. It seems success makes them insecure, defensive and prone to depression. More than one comedian has committed suicide. Peter Sellers was one particularly depressed comedian. I met him many times, at the dinner parties organised by Elizabeth of Yugoslavia. He always appeared sad, but somehow this never made me feel sympathetic towards him, I felt instead embarrassed, even guilty, as if I was the cause of his misery and depression. Whenever I tried to be friendly, he reacted with a stony silence, almost as if shunning me made him feel good. As I observed Peter, I began to realise that depression can be triggered by excessive self-love, which is bound to lead to disillusionment and self-hate. His melancholy became extreme when he fell in love with Sophia Loren. He did not know that Italian women are allergic to depression. With Princess Margaret, however, Peter would come alive, be jovial and playful. It was both amusing and instructive to watch them together. They were insensitive to everyone else in the room, their faces glowing with the pleasure of mutual flattery. For Peter, a Jew of humble origin, entertaining the Queen's sister was ecstasy, and ecstasy brings out the best in comedians. For the deeply insecure Princess Margaret, the attention of a world famous, slightly oddball, comedian, was an amusing relief. They could often be overheard making unkind remarks about others. Peter's self-love eventually made him cruel, even to his children, whom he disinherited.

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The son of the great Italian comedian between the two world wars, Ettore Petrollini, once told me that he was embarrassed by his father's comicalness, it often made him physically sick.

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Pablo Picasso

Once again I am having coffee in the Picasso Café on the King's Road. It has been there almost as long as living memory, ever welcoming, unpretentious and comfortable, unlike the artist himself. I first met Pablo Picasso in 1951, when he was living in Vallauris, in the South of France, when I went to interview him for an Italian magazine. I was introduced to him by Bernard, a colleague of mine from the Sorbonne, who was the artist's neighbour and knew him very well. In fact, my interview took place in Bernard's presence, which was lucky because Picasso and Bernard teased each other throughout the visit. The spontaneity of their exchanges created an atmosphere that enabled me to see behind the mask of the successful artist, to the man himself. I soon realised that he was one of the craftiest cheats of the twentieth century. He boasted about the stupidity of people, particularly the rich who bought his paintings. He claimed that people love to be cheated and said it pleased him to satisfy this need, which he achieved through shocking them. This undermined their self-confidence and made them easy to manipulate. As I listened to Picasso I remembered where I had heard all this before. The Italian philosopher, Giovanni Papini, had just given me a copy of his book, Il Libro Nero, his collection of interviews with prominent artists and intellectuals, and his comments about them. One chapter had been dedicated to Picasso, in which the artist admitted: "0As a young man, like all young people, I venerated great art. But then on maturing I realised that art, as it was understood to be up until the last Century, was finished, condemned and that so called `artistic activities' were nothing but multiform manifestations of art's agony"... "Many continue to occupy themselves with art but only for commercial reasons"... "I am a public joker and I exploit, as best as I can, the imbecility, the

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vanity and the cupidity of my contemporaries. Since Cubism, and even before, I have tried to please an audience that craves the new and scandalous, with all the various nonsense that comes into my head and the less they understand it, the more they admire me. Mine is a bitter confession, but it has the merit of being sincere." As I looked at Picasso and around his studio, I felt the rage with which he produced his works, aimed at intimidating those he despised. Everything about him was violent. He moved his body and hands with violence, spoke with violence and his strong accent revealed a violent mentality, all accompanied by those mad, constantly moving, bulbous, shinning eyes. Picasso was obsessed with women and sex. At the time of this interview, he was living with Françoise Gilot, 40 years his junior, she called him "my beautiful beast," which pleased him. Bern a rd, who studied psychology, explained later that Picasso's obsessions with women and sex, as well as his irascibility and abruptness, were mainly due to the insecurity of his uncertain existence, ruled by his mind's distorted surreal world and to his unpolished, often crude, provinciality. His attraction for Communism was, in fact, an attempt to find some security. As I looked at his album of photographs of his works, I saw one of `La Joie de Vivre', painted in 1946, a precarious line up of deformed and suffering figures, without a hint of a life enjoyed. Next was a photo of `Les Demoiselles d'Avignon', which he painted in 1907. I nearly asked him if it was true that the work had been conceived not in Avignon, but in Barcelona's most famous brothel, frequented by Picasso and his friends, in Calle Avinyo. It was said that Picasso thought that people would be more attracted by something to do with Avignon, rather than Avinyo. However, I didn't dare ask. After the interview, Bernard related an overheard conversation between the painter and his gardener, an old Italian peasant. Gardener: "What is this?" indicating a painting. Picasso: "It is a woman." Gardener: "A woman!"

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Picasso: "That's how I see a woman." Gardener: "And that one?" Picasso: "A horse." Gardener: "A horse!" Picasso: "That is how I see a horse." Gardener: "Signor Picasso, with such appalling eyesight what made you decide to be a painter?" A friend of mine told me another telling story. When she was at an exhibition of Picasso's works in London, she stopped in front of his painting `Weeping Woman'. A group of twelveyear-old girls, with a teacher, had also stopped in front of the painting. One of the girls asked the teacher why the woman was crying. Another child answered: "Because she's ugly." Surrealism, and in particular Picasso's works, brought a new recognition for art depicting the deconstruction and distortion of nature and reality, in truth a cult of ugliness. Nature strives for harmony. Picasso managed to distort even the most innocent image of a dove, giving us instead a bloated and unnatural creature without any of nature's harmony, elegance or beauty. This cult of ugliness seems to have grown out of the Industrial Revolution of nearly a century before. Up until then, artists had been paid to paint classical religious, political or empirical images for their patrons. Mechanisation created industrialised landscapes, and industrial wealth. This great revolution glorified man's power to distort nature and artists followed suite. Just as modern industry imposed itself on the land without regard to natural beauty, artists created images to reflect their freedom from it. The wars of the end of the 19th Century and beginning of the 20th saw dignity and self-respect destroyed and in learning to live with such man-made ugliness, man positively embraced it. `A thing of beauty is a joy forever', as Keats wrote, is true because beauty generates love and care, the source of the joy of living. The cult of ugliness, on the other hand, liberates us from the responsibilities that come with love and care. In doing so it

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allows nastiness, sadism and perversion to pervade a guilt-free and careless humanity. In fact, it is not surprising, as I mentioned before, that Picasso and the Surrealists idolised the Marquis de Sade. What is more, the cult of ugliness inures us to waste, destruction and pollution and leads us to tolerate, and even admire, moral corruption - Picasso's confession that "Good artists copy. Great artists steal" should have sealed his fate as the cheat he admitted to being and awakened our conscience for admiring him, but it did not. Unlike other animals, that upon reaching maturity tend to be repelled by the deformed or distorted, we, in our neotenous state, are curious and attracted to it. This is the reason why, in spite of the declared intentions of an increasing number of World Leaders to reduce the destruction of our ecology, they are ineffective. Despite knowing how suicidal it is to continue to populate, consume and pollute every corner of the planet, we maintain our pleasures at its expense. Our toleration of ugliness is, in reality, an escape from taxing virtues and humiliating shame, a relaxation into often pleasant indifference. This state, which provides instant gratification guided by amorality, tends to liberate us from worries about the future. We often find that captives can develop exciting or pleasant co-existence with their captors (Stockholm Syndrome), whilst throughout history brutal dictators have been loved by their subjects. The cult of ugliness, vulgarity, violence and bad taste of the German genre in art and literature, `Expressionism', was a significant aid to the rise to power of Nazism, with its violent and perverse ideals and practices. The same was true of Italian Fascism and its Futurism. Thus art mirrors our condition. Impressionism, Surrealism, Expressionism, Fauvism, Futurism, Modernism, Post-Modernism, Post-Post-Modernism, Post-Post-Post Shmodernism, are all signs of our basic desires to degrade taste and beauty and annihilate reality and life.

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Cippico + Luciano = Vatican Finance

As I passed the Chelsea Cinema today I saw they were showing `The Godfather'. It reminded me of my own encounter with the real `Mafia'. One January evening in Rome, in 1946, Yankolowich, a producer from the film company Zeus, asked me to join him in order to meet a couple of people who wanted to discuss making a film with him. They turned out to be Monsignor Eduardo Cippico Prettner and the Italian-American gangster, Lucky Luciano. Both were impeccably dressed, particularly Cippico who was not in his habit but in an elegant suit by Carraceni, the best Italian tailor of the period. Luciano wanted Yankolowich to make a film of his life. I sat, fascinated, as he told his story. He said that in 1906, at the age of ten, he had arrived in New York determined to make his fortune. At that time, there was only one way for an Italian from Sicily to become rich quickly, and that was with the Mafia. To be successful with the Mafia one had to be deadly ruthless and that by 1930, he had become its most feared member. His luck failed him, for a time, in 1936, when he was jailed for 40 years for running a network of brothels. However, he continued to run his empire from prison. In 1942, he was contacted by the USA Military Intelligence who would arrange his early release, if he would assist them by secretly going back to Sicily and, with the co-operation of the Sicilian Mafia, sabotage the Italian and German forces, and prepare the way for the landing of the Allied army. Luciano complied. As he told his story I noticed how detached he seemed to be. He talked as if about someone else and kept his hands still, unusual for anyone of Italian origin. I wondered where the strength for this control came from, and then I saw it in his eyes. Their cold stare reflected distrust. He had the confidence of a man who mistrusts and disbelieves everyone except himself, for

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him only the primal law of `favour for favour' held fast. This total distrust of others, and absolute trust in himself, gave him an air of indifference, the attitude of a grand seigneur. Yankolowich told me later that he too had found Luciano impressive. Lucky Luciano was obviously a seriously dangerous man, but I found Monsignor Cippico more intriguing. His purpose in attending the meeting had been to confirm that he was ready to support the film financially. I had met him before, at various dinner parties given by some of Rome's famous hostesses. I had also seen him quite frequently at the then popular nightclub `Jicky' which was patronised by film people, rich industrialists and business wheeler dealers, as well as elite `poules de luxe.' Cippico struck up friendships with these expensive ladies in order to gain access to their rich clientele, for a very special purpose. Monsignor Cippico's up-market Catholic education, his ambiguity, suaveness and careful manners gave him the prerequisites for his job in the Vatican and his dark glasses gave the impression he was hiding something. His office in the impressive Palazzo del Santo Uffizio, which dominated St Peter's Square, was the centre of the Vatican's foreign trade and international monetary transactions. His most valuable asset, in the eyes of the Italians and prospective clients, was the fact that he was well protected by his personal friend, Pope Pius XII. For a period, Monsignor Cippico was the Pope's domestic prelate. The following may explain the reason for the seemingly incongruous friendship between the Mafia boss and the Vatican's Monsignor. After the War, the Vatican and the Vatican sponsored Italian Demo-Christian Party, developed an obsessive fear that the Communists could gain legitimate power in the general elections which were to take place on the 18th April 1948. When, in 1947, Stalin set up `Cominform', in order to co-ordinate all Communist parties throughout Eastern Europe and beyond, under the direction of the Soviet Union, the Vatican and wealthy

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Italians started to panic. Monsignor Cippico took advantage of this panic. By attending smart cocktail parties and gala dinners at night clubs, he gradually spread the word that, despite the fact that Italians were prohibited from taking money out of the country, he could, with the Vatican's approval, arrange for it to be transferred to Switzerland. Monsignor Cippico would tell them that, at a cost of ten percent for charity, their money would be placed in safe deposit boxes in Switzerland. In fact, the money was being used to support the Vatican's political party, the Christian Democrats. He knew that these rich Italians would not dare denounce him when they discovered this, for fear of being sent to jail. On the 6th of March 1948, six weeks before the elections, the Communist New s p a p e r, `L'Unita' carried the headlines `Scandalo', denouncing Cippico, the Vatican and even the Pope, for daylight robbery! Many had predicted a victory for the Communists in the 1948 elections and after this `Scandalo' everyone was convinced it would happen, it seemed the Communists had timed their exposé very well. A few days later Monsignor Cippico was arrested. During his interrogation by the police, he had just smiled enigmatically, insisting that the money had been given to him for charity. However, the Italian Communists were too indoctrinated by the Soviets to remember their own country's mentality. The more the Communists accused the Vatican of corruption and dishonesty, the more the Italian public appreciated it. The scandal released them from their own burdensome moral obligations and restraints, which had come with their liberation by the Allies. In fact the elections brought the Christian Democratic Party, the Vatican and the Mafia, to power. This lasted until 1993 when the big `Scandalo' of `tangentopoli' blew up, involving most of Italy's political and economic leaders.

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After just a year in prison, Monsignor Cippico was freed, and following a carefully rehearsed public confession, he was welcomed back into the loving arms of the Catholic Church. Meanwhile, Lucky Luciano became too busy smuggling narcotic drugs between Italy and America to pursue the idea of a film about his life for many years. He may have even thought it unwise to publicise himself as he kept a low profile and accumulated money. Ironically he died of a heart attack at Naples airport in January 1962, as he greeted a scriptwriter who had come to talk about making a movie of his life. Being eternal, the Catholic Church's scandals are eternal, and repeat themselves with monotonous regularity, usually involving money. When the Vatican needed funds at the end of the 1970s and early 1980s, for both the financing of the Nicaraguan forces in their fight against Communism, and to help the Polish liberation from Russia, it returned to its old tricks. This time the protagonist was one of the most powerful banks in Milan, the Banco Ambrosiano. After a few years of financial co-operation between the Vatican and the Banco Ambrosiano, the bank was in deficit of one billion dollars. On the 18th June 1982, the bank's Chairman, Calvi, was found hanging under Blackfriars Bridge in London. The stolen money was well spent, however, Nicaragua was saved and Poland was liberated. The Catholic Church's eternal sense of righteousness is well served by the motto of its son Machiavelli, who stated that "the end justifies the means." In fact the end's consolidation puts the means used to obtain it nicely into obscurity.

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A Legacy of The Sixties - Childhood's End

I thought I had understood most of the legacy of the `Swinging Sixties' until I had a conversation with Hazel Smith, my collaborator with these memoirs. Hazel's family retail business has been in the road since before even I was born, and has evolved from a Victorian drapery store named by her grandfather, Sidney Smith, into a leading fitness and active wear shop, `The King's Road Sporting Club', which is currently probably the oldest family owned business in the street. In the Sixties, as in every other era, it sold what was in demand, mini skirts, wide belts and flamboyant hats, lace and net tops, denim jackets, jeans - both drain pipe and flared. Hazel said that the fashion of the sixties had a lot to answer for. It was to do with uniforms. Up until WWII one could judge a person by the clothes they wore. Each section of society had its own clothing, and in wearing the clothes of a particular `class' one took on the demeanour of that class. This all changed in the 1960s. It started during the war. Cloth was at a premium and there were other issues far more important than fashion, and women took on men's jobs, and had to clothe themselves to suit their new work situations. This freed some men and women from their `uniforms'. At the end of the war the exuberance of peacetime brought about an explosion in the fashion industry. They were no longer constrained by a social imperative and went to extremes to be different from the last generation. It seemed a time of wonderful innovation and freedom of expression, but much was lost in the process. One key moment, Hazel said, was when Biba sold children's clothes that mimicked the youthful designs Barbara Hulanicki made for her adult clients in her back room, children no longer had a `uniform', but a `brand' (a subtle but significant difference).

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Not only did this infer that young parents were bringing up `friends' not children, but the children no longer could distinguish themselves from the adult world, they had lost their place. Of course everyone embraced this with shining faces and open arms. "Look at me, I look just like my mummy." The children of the children of the sixties, born since about 1985, have a better standard of living and a better access to education than their grandparents, yet have less direction or sense of place, and are wandering the world on `gap years' that never end. In the meantime, their mothers and fathers are injecting their faces with Botox. Another legacy seems to be that created by the ever more insidious advertising and public relations industries, coupled with the ideals of `economic progress'. The cry of `supply and demand' in the last century has turned itself into a cry of `demand and supply'. Almost any product produced for western type markets (which are moving steadily east), is preceded by a campaign to create a demand for it, a `buy or die' policy that may well kill the planet.

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Red Cross - Travel Documents

Today I read in the newspaper that yet another War Criminal had been discovered in Argentina, which reminded me of another interesting period of my life. When the War ended so did my job with the Red Cross, but the Chief of the International Red Cross in Rome asked me to help him with thousands of refugees from all parts of Europe which had ended up occupied by Communist Russia. Among these were many Nazis and collaborators from Hungary, Romania, Germany, Croatia, Albania, Slovakia, France and Belgium. I worked in the office which issued International Red Cross travel documents. It is well known that hundreds of War Criminals emigrated to South American countries between 1945 1946, with these documents. All that was required in order to acquire one of these documents was to produce two witnesses confirming the applicant's name, date of birth and physical description, most of this information was usually false. Our job was to accept as `bona fide,' whatever people stated. We knew that most of them were innocent displaced persons without documents, we were also aware that many were Nazi criminals. It was fascinating to watch people signing their names. I could often guess who was innocent and who was not, the guilty were much tenser, and more aggressive as they signed, almost angry. Many people insist that war criminals are tortured by their consciences, but in most cases this is not true. After losing the war, most war criminals also lose the memory of their past. One morning I was confronted by the last Minister of Police of the Nazi Government of Albania. Watching him sign his Travel Document with a gold fountain pen I tried to visualize how many death sentences for Albanian Freedom Fighters, caught by his police, were signed by the same gold pen. He was

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calm and detached. Perhaps because he was convinced that he had had right on his side. One day Father Dragonovich, a Catholic Priest from a Croatian Monastery in Rome and one of the leaders of the Ustashi, brought a typical Nazi criminal to the office. He was short, with a broad shoulder, round fat face, short fat fingers and a fixed look. I provided the document after the obligatory two witnesses had confirmed the details. These were clones of the applicant, both Croats and both already in possession of International Red Cross Travel documents. Leaving the office, Father Draganovich who regularly brought in Croats said: "Branko, you are the only Serb that I am sorry is not a Croat." Coming from him, I didn't feel particularly flattered. Many people accused the International Red Cross in Rome of having helped war criminals escape in this way. To these accusations I always answered that through the same office, with the same procedures, many more persecuted Jews, innocent but displaced people and political dissidents were helped. In war, every participant is a war criminal because war is a crime. It's a crime because it is fought in the name of ideologies. It is ideology that is the crime, as it aims at changing reality and nature to suit an illusion. The Allied bombing of European cities killed innocent people, just as the Nazis were doing in their extermination camps. The American launching of atomic bombs over innocent Japanese was the same crime as the Japanese atrocities against Allied War Prisoners. War crimes cannot be selective. The Nuremberg Tribunal which condemned most Nazi leaders to death should also have had American, English and Soviet leaders on trial, and sentenced them equally. They all committed war crimes: they started a war. There is no war that cannot be prevented.

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Andy Warhol

I read today (7th May 1994), in a London magazine, that a Museum for Andy Warhol's pictures and artefacts had been opened in Pittsburgh. It made me think about how desperately America loves creating national myths. There is no doubt that the world today, particularly in America, is convinced that fame and celebrity create importance, that these aspects hold sway over all other values. This conviction makes people struggle for fame or even infamy by all and any means. The New York youth of the sixties and seventies, desperate for importance, idolised Andy Warhol and became his groupies in order to be part of his moment of glory. He promised fame to all by suggesting that everyone could be famous for fifteen minutes. Nothing appeals more to an obscured mind than obscure nonsense. In the moral and aesthetic ambiguity of New York's downtown culture at the time, someone like Andy Warhol could not have failed to become a myth. His greatest asset for both the era and the area in which he existed was his zombie-like looks and behaviour. His oddness was enough to inspire the myth for those who desperately sought it and they transformed the discotheque `Palladium' and the restaurant `Mr Chow' into temples in which sacrilege was worshipped. Like all obsessive myths, Andy's blinded his groupies to the point of ridicule; to worshippers gods are never ridiculous. The first time I met Andy was at a diner party organized by Anita Loos, an old friend of mine. Anita wrote the best selling book `Gentlemen Prefer Blondes' and was also famous for having dominated the Hollywood film industry between the two World Wars. She had kindly written praise for my theories on the cover of my book, `Man: the Fallen Ape'. Because she was famous, Andy was creeping all over her like an oily social climber. Anita was too old and too kind to react.

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Even if she reacted it would have been in her usual elegant and subtle way, which would never have got through Andy's insensitive self-centred thick skin, created by his insecurity. Andy's physique made him look like an over grown infant, which some of his followers found original. When he talked in his quiet, almost inaudible voice, he seldom made any sense at all. He even walked in an odd affected way. Some of those who gathered around him believed his weird air and moronic look hid a divine prophet or something supernatural, whilst others thought great wisdom lay behind his emotionless rigidity, some even mistook his apathetic attitude for seraphic serenity. He only raised his voice slightly when stating a banality or when he was name-dropping such names as Bianca Jagger, Imelda Marcos and Princess Minnie de Beauvau. For me, his pale, more dead than alive, face made me very sad. I thought America, for all its faults, deserved a better myth. Many people, blinded by the Warhol myth, were unaware that the paintings of the `Maestro' were not paintings but reproductions of photographs he had taken. He always carried a camera. I remember being at a table with him at a New Year's Eve party in New York, in 1973, as he constantly snapped away at all the people around him. Some of these `artistic creations' were done or finished by Andy's mother, Julia Warhola. She even signed them for him, in a shaky script, often miss-spelling his name. Julia was an immigrant from Slovakia. When Andy moved from Pittsburgh to New York, she joined him. She dominated her son and manipulated him and his business with the tenacity and toughness of a Slovak peasant. She spoke English very slowly with a heavy accent and would insert various middle European expressions into her conversation, accompanied by facial grimaces and gesticulating hands and arms. As a middle European, I understood her, but she terrorised Andy's friends and followers. Julia always amused me. I spoke in Serbo-Croatian and she would answer in Slovakian, and we would giggle together at the expense of Andy's worshippers who would sit around the vast

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studio sniffing poppers. She treated Andy's followers roughly, often cruelly or vulgarly, yet they respected, even loved, her. Fragile humanity often considers toughness a reflection of caring. Julia's god was the American dollar, which she pronounced "doolar." She worshipped it with the stubborn devotion of a Catholic. The moment I met Julia, I realised how a domineering mother can actually stop a son from developing beyond infancy, making him obtuse and confused. Many people thought that Andy was inclined towards homosexuality. I had the impression that his domineering mother had stopped him developing any sexual desire. Perhaps it was because he was like a vindictive child, finally feeling free, that Andy did not go to his mother's funeral. Andy died in 1987, aged just 59, from a total collapse of his body's defence system, which confirmed my conviction that stress reduces the efficiency of our immune system. He had lived under constant stress because his fame was far superior to his talent. If success is not built on merit or talent it constantly threatens to engulf its owner in an intimidating abyss. After Andy's death, many of his worshippers were surprised to discover that, whilst propagating eccentricity and ultramodernity, he was hiding a passion for antique paintings and furniture, which he invested in with the money he accumulated by selling his artefacts, his fame.

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Richard Burton

I often pass 215 King's Road and think back to the time I lived there in the seventies when it belonged to Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia. Amongst the many episodes I witnessed there was Richard Burton's infatuation for the Princess. He became captivated by Elizabeth's beauty, elegance, aristocratic background and her impeccable behaviour and spent most of his free time at the house. We had many dinners together discussing a variety of subjects. He was intelligent and charming when he was sober. Unfortunately, much to Elizabeth's disappointment, he often drank too much and then became either violent or zombie-like. One evening we talked about his acting. He explained that he had to enjoy the part he was playing, that for him to interpret a character properly he had to identify with it. "In order to be able to do this, the character has to be a real character," he said. "Twice in my life I had serious problems with a character, both were major political leaders, one was Churchill and the other was Tito of Yugoslavia. I had difficulty in interpreting them because they were both actors, what is more, political actors. It is extremely difficult for an actor to interpret or perform the character of another actor. Tito was the worst. When I met him, I shivered for the first time in my life. My interpretation of him in the film dealing with the partisan wars in the Balkans was my worst role." The more I knew Richard the more I realised how sad his life was. He explained that, from a very young age, he had enjoyed assuming roles, and found performing amusing and exciting. However, he came to realise that his passion for playing roles stunted the development of his own personality. He understood that having little sense of his own personality made him freer to act out others but, tragically, left him confused and empty in the real world, which is why he sought escape in alcohol. Richard didn't realise that this lack of a strong individual

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identity, so useful when acting, was a serious handicap in his pursuit of Princess Elizabeth. He was unable to develop loving gratitude or generosity, as this depends on a personal sacrifice, continuity and consistency, which are parts of an individual personality. Richard thought he could act the role of a loving person, by showering Princess Elizabeth with precious gifts. The more he gave her, the more annoyed and offended she became by these substitutes for love. After six months Princess Elizabeth stopped seeing him. He rang me from Nice, where he was filming, to say that he was coming to London and wanted me to try to convince her to continue the relationship, promising to marry her. He told me that he would be staying in the Dorchester Hotel and could we have dinner with him the following evening. I convinced Princess Elizabeth to come and see if there was a solution. When we arrived, the hall porter informed us that he was waiting for us in his suite. When we entered the suite Richard was slumped on the sofa, with glazed eyes and an almost empty bottle of vodka on the table in front of him. He greeted us with his deep gravely voice, but his furred tongue made the greeting comic. Somehow I felt sorry as I looked at those sad watery eyes and started to assume the role of a favourite uncle to his beloved nephew in an effort to bring him round. I told him that it was a great pity that such a beautiful, kind and generous person was destroying himself with alcohol. I said it was shameful for such a person to become so brutal and violent when drunk. I also told him that it was pathetic that a great actor, able to master the most difficult acting roles, was unable to master himself. I droned on praising his poetry, of which he was most proud. I also pointed out that his drinking was ruining his voice, that voice that had seduced so many. Pleased with myself for my words of wisdom, I turned to Princess Elizabeth. She was grinning at me, "Just look at him," she said, pointing

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at the figure sprawled out on the sofa. So taken up was I by my own oratory, possibly inspired by his own great talent, I had not even noticed that my grand paternal speech had sent Richard into a sound sleep. He looked shrunken and pathetic. I nearly cried seeing him in such miserable state. I remember a poem he so proudly recited for us in his wonderful voice, "Hunched, solitary, silent. That man alone in the saloon Bar's corner That man alone, solitary, musing, Who can he be? I lift my eyes from the bitter pint. I see that man in the mirror. That man is me." I covered the body with a blanket and sadly left the room. As we left, Princess Elizabeth helped herself to one of Richard's cashmere scarves. "As a souvenir," she smiled. Outside the Dorchester Hotel there was a group of reporters. Their questions seemed irrelevant to the life of Richard Burton, the actor who could not stop acting.

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Eugene Ionesco

As I watch traffic going through Chelsea, I am aware that Fridays always seem somehow more intense and more chaotic than other days. For some reason the beginning of the weekend increases our sense of importance, which increases our restlessness and our agitation. We are obsessed with the idea of our importance. It has us convinced that even death cannot humble us, because we have developed beliefs in life after death. Our sense of self-importance extends to a belief in our superiority over other species and a more than natural hierarchical emphasis on the superiority of one individual over another. The irony is that our sense of superiority has not only driven us to kill each other on a massive scale, but also to indiscriminately kill other forms of life, to the detriment of the planet as a whole. Our self-importance, restlessness and agitation all contribute to our need to rush through our lives at irrational and excessive speed. We positively demand devices which allow us to increase our pace. The thought of time reminds me of Eugène Ionesco, the French playwright of Romanian origin. I first met him in Paris on a unique occasion. Two Romanian friends of mine asked me to come, on 11th May 1950, to the Théâtre des Noctambules in the Rue Champollion, to help their friend Ionesco, by being a `claque' at the premier of his play `La Cantatrice Chauve'. We met Ionesco in front of the Theatre. He eagerly explained when and with what intensity we were to applaud the performance. I have always felt a certain pride in the fact that my applause helped to contribute towards such a success. `La Cantatrice Chauve' ran for decades in Paris. After the performance I knew, from the comments of the French public and critics, that the play would be a success. It was so unconventional they did not know what to think. When the French do not understand something, they tend to give it a

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new name: they called Ionesco's work an `anti-play'. This made the play intriguing. After all, the French are easily seduced by anything `anti'. After this I met Ionesco many times, often with his friend Cioran, in Café de Flore in St. Germaine des Prés. With his protuberant eyes, his potato like looking nose, his overgrown ears, his sad face and his stomach hanging over the belt of his trousers, Ionesco gave the impression of being a clown or a joke. I always thought that his grotesque physical appearance must have been a contributing factor in the burlesque style of his plays. He once explained the Romanians by saying that they were a mixed race between Slavs and Romans, the women reflect the positive sides of the two races, Latin beauty and Slavic charm, whilst the men exhibit the ugliness of roman slaves and the gloominess of Slavs. On another occasion, Ionesco stated that life as described in his plays, in which everyone is chasing everyone else, leaves little space and time for plots or characters to develop. Ignoring the past and the future, racing around kills the continuity of life, transforming life into fragments and fragments are incongruous, absurd and bizarre. Life is a farce, he loved to stress. Farce can be tragic as it can end in chaos, which, he said, is evident in his characters' incongruous dialogues. Chasing around can cause panic and in panic there is no community, civility or togetherness. Once we are in a race we no longer realise the absurdity of it. He used to explain this by saying that one does not see the stream when swimming in the middle of it. He would further explain that a race produces incongruence because it annihilates time. When time is annihilated, events and dialogue are left without connection. Once everything is isolated from time it becomes grotesque. Rushing and speeding have no time for kindness, gentleness or humanity. With speed our selfishness and self-centredness become dominant. The dangerous side of rushing and speeding is that they

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prevent or limit curiosity or learning, which is so vital for our species. Attracted and intoxicated by rushing and speeding we seldom realise that they prevent us attaining contentment. We can only reach contentment when we feel we have arrived. However, men prefer departures to arrivals, as departures are more exciting. People need to `flâner', to wander around, he explained on another occasion. In order to appreciate life one has to slow down. Strolling brings peace of mind. Strolling can be joyful as it plays with time. The French lost the habit of strolling after WWII. The Americans intoxicated Europe with rushing which kills the taste, hence their love of fast food. "People call my plays a Theatre of Absurdities," he exclaimed. "The greatest living absurdity is the replacement of European civility with the American lack of manners. Americans are rushing, even when they come to visit our monuments and museums, which is an offence to art and beauty." Ionesco's ideas on rushing and speeding remind me of the Italian philosopher Giovanni Papini, whom I interviewed, in his beloved Florence in 1951. During the interview he explained that the most beautiful episode of civility in his life happened in Florence before WWI. One night, around midnight, he was chatting in the middle of a road with two students, when a horse driven carrozza turned the corner. "The coachman, on seeing us deep in conversation, quietly pulled the horse up and turned his carrozza down the next street, in order not to disturb us. Today, people in speeding motorcars would shout insults at you for getting in their way." Papini smiled sadly.

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Fellini - La Vita Amara Dolce

Today my Italian newspaper informs me that Italy will celebrate the centenary of its film industry with an exhibition of the works of Federico Fellini, considered to be one of the World's greatest film directors, which reminds me of another important episode of my life in Rome. I met Fellini there, in 1942, in the office of the satirical magazine `Marc Aurelio'. We were both young students. He was already a successful caricaturist; I was trying to sell some humorous sketches of university life. Throughout the 1950s, we met regularly at Ro s s e t t i 's Bookshop, in the Via Veneto. Vittorio Sforzini, the book shop's manager, was more of a host than a salesman. In fact in the early evenings his book shop would become a kind of `salon littéraire' where one could meet the finest representatives of Italian culture. I became even more involved with Fellini and his favourite collaborator/scriptwriter, Ennio Flaiano, at the beginning of 1956, when my satirical novel `Av venture Di Via Veneto' (Adventures of the Via Veneto) was published. In it, I described the fantasy world played out in the cafés and nightclubs of this street, in the aftermath of years of war. In the prologue I had written that, "Each historic era has its own Via Veneto. I dedicate my book to these places that play generous hosts to a humanity who prefer dreams to certainties." The book became the subject of a lot of discussion in Rossetti's Bookshop. Then Fellini and Flaiano told me they wanted to make a film of it. Over the next two years we met on various occasions to discuss the film, however there were long gaps in between meetings. As with everyone in the film industry, Fellini worked on many projects at the same time. Between 1956 and 1958 he was planning a film about Barabbas with Anthony Quinn in the leading

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role, talking about a film on Don Quixote with Jacques Tati and another about Casanova with Orson Welles as Casanova. When, towards the end of 1958, I heard that Fellini was actually shooting the film on Via Veneto, I was not surprised to have been left out of the script writing and that my idea was being used without asking my permission, since such things frequently happen in the film industry. I was also not surprised to see the title of Via Veneto replaced by `La Dolce Vita'. I later found out that Fellini had had a fight with Peppino Amato, the producer of the film, who had preferred my title. A few days after Fellini started filming `La Dolce Vita', I met his brother Ricardo, a good friend of mine and a kind person. I complained about Federico's behaviour. "He is like that," Ricardo laughed. "He has no consideration or scruples. He ignores his family; he can be as cruel with me and our sister Madalena, as with a stranger." I went on to meet up with Federico many times after this. Sure enough, he behaved as if nothing had happened. I am certain that if I had ever mentioned his unethical behaviour towards me and my book, he would probably have given me the same answer he'd given another friend of mine, when a promised role in one of his films had not materialised. "I am not a responsible person," he told my friend, "I do not exist. On my birth certificate I am not even registered as Federico Fellini, I am registered as Federico Filloni." Apparently true, due to an administrative error. Fellini, was a great joker, but he could also be extremely charming. He was definitely at home in the Rome of that era, with its culture of dirty tricks and unethical behaviour, which were considered, by those who were not the targets of them, to be clever practical jokes. Fellini's charm won him forgiveness from most of the offended. For instance, he thought it hilarious to answer the same question with different answers in each interview. When he was asked why he did this, he would say, "So that each interviewer can feel he has an exclusive story."

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Fellini was the epitome of post-war Italy and its `La Dolce Vita', which accepted liberation by the Americans to mean liberation from restrictions of all kinds. When I saw the film `La Dolce Vita', I realised why he had avoided my collaboration with its script. He took my idea of Via Veneto, but he populated the cafés and the events that surrounded them, with exaggerated caricatures of those I had described. His fertile fantasy transformed him and his film from reality into surreality. When it came out, the film was considered by most people and critics to be indecent, impudent, obscene, pornographic and blasphemous, which, of course, made it a sure success. However, it took success abroad before Italy acknowledged it. Fellini was perfectly in touch with the mood of the post war masses. He understood their love of scandal. He knew they would identify with the film, because they enjoyed seeing the successful or famous degraded. `La Dolce Vita' captured the change in attitude of Italians towards success in the 1950s. Before the war, success was achieved through personal merit. Afterwards, it became synonymous with fame, which could be acquired just by being involved in a scandal. The film encapsulated the process; act in a debauched, lewd or prankish way in public; get your picture in the press, ergo your fame spreads. Via Veneto was full of camera fodder, the film exploited the genre and most likely, with the character of the photographer called Paparazzo, coined the term `paparazzi'; sleaze snappers. One of the first people the Roman paparazzi trapped and exploited was the dethroned Egyptian King Farouk. He regularly went to the Café de Paris, in the Via Veneto around midnight. He would arrive, wearing his large dark glasses, accompanied by four fat tarty looking young women and his body guard, a young six-foot tall Albanian, also in dark glasses (Farouk trusted Albanians, since his grandfather, who founded the Egyptian Dynasty in the 19th century, was of Albanian origin). The paparazzi would descend like a swarm of fireflies. Their

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cameras flashes signalled the arrival of the Egyptian and his entourage. Farouk had an empirical sense of humour. Once, when playing poker, he slammed his winning hand onto the table, claiming he had four kings. However the hand showed only three. When he was told he was mistaken, he replied; "No I am not - I win I am the fourth King!" Some people compared London's `Swinging Sixties' to `La Dolce Vita' in Rome. Having experimented with both lives, I found them quite different. While `La Dolce Vita' was a comedy played by a juvenile mentality, guided by dreams and fantasies, the life of Swinging London was more of a sad farce played in anger and rage. While the Via Veneto's people would spend their days sitting in cafes daydreaming, people of Swinging London would rush, often in fury, in search of life. Swinging Londoners would see things in anger, behave in anger, make love in anger and take all kinds of drugs in anger. They would even dance or sing in anger, with violence and noise. They took risks with drugs, narcotics and wild adventures. They all looked as if they had lost something, but didn't know what it was. While the people of the Via Veneto were revelling in the old Roman complacent motto: `Carpe Diem,' the people of the King's Road were cultivating rebelliousness, exciting themselves with shocking behaviour, a cure for their lack of engagement with the more mundane aspects of life. Those participating in `La Dolce Vita' regarded the freedom that came with liberation, as a justification for becoming unpunctual and otherwise unreliable.

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Amir Assadollah Alam

It's Friday, the Muslim day of prayer and I am reminded of Amir Assadollah Alam, the once Prime Minister of Persia and longest serving minister of the Pahlavi era. I spent a lot of time in his company in the South of France. He and family used to spend their summer holidays at the Villa Nellerique, Cap d'Antibes, when I was on my sailing boat in Antibes Harbour. At the time, Alam was minister of the royal court and the Shah of Persia's key adviser. The following are the thoughts and ideas of a man whose family, for centuries, dominated the political life of Persia. They might help to understand some of the differences between the West and the Muslim world. ... "Many Western political leaders consider themselves to be entitled to pontificate or preach to the rest of the world, on the grounds that they are defending Western Christian civilisation, which, in their view, is the supreme achievement of humanity, and superior to any other civilisation." ... "Blinded by arrogance, people who glorify Western civilisation do not realise that their civilisation excels above other civilisation in many negative characteristics and practices, such as: hypocrisy, amorality, deviousness, aggressiveness, violence, cruelty, crime, perversion, suicides, greed, obesity, insomnia, melancholy, alcoholism, drug addiction, depression, agitation, rushing, the rat-race and above all, stress related diseases and mental disorders." ... "In trying to globalise its civilisation, the Western World is in essence trying to export its negative achievements to the rest of the globe." ... "Americans are ready to wage a campaign against poor countries which produce heroine or other narcotic drugs, ignoring, in their self-righteousness, that the drugs are sold mainly to the Western World, and that it is the Western World that is producing the drug addicts."

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... "The Muslim world finds, in the cult of family and community, less insecurity and less anxiety, less agitation and less fragility." ... "By offering better personal security the Muslim cult of family and community helps to develop such values as generosity, which Western societies seldom display, having opted instead for excessive self-interest in reaction to individual insecurity and precariousness." ... "By offering greater security, family and community offer better conditions for developing tenderness, gentleness, kindness, camaraderie and hospitality." ... "The precious virtue of loyalty can be found more among Muslims than among Westerners. Loyalty cannot co-exist with greed." ... "Limiting individual freedom, an individual's sense of responsibility, which the Muslim cult of family and community helps to foster, curbs the impulse to engage in adventurousness, gambling, risk-taking or speculating, all important factors of Western Capitalism." ... "The difference in mentality between Americans and Muslims, in this case mainly with Arabs, can be seen in their approach to the training of horses. An American tends to adopt a cowboy approach, carrying a stick in one hand and a carrot in the other, an Arab carries only sugar." ... "The West is particularly proud of its individual liberty, equality and fraternity. In this blinding pride, Westerners do not realise the contradiction of these rights. Individual freedom carries uncertainty and tension, in which the individual selfishness and self-centredness are dominant, which do not allow the realisation of the equality and fraternity. On the other hand equality and fraternity can only limit individual freedom." ... "Individual freedom, after all, is a disease eroding and killing community, a disease because we are, by nature, a social species." ... "Not having innate breaks, individual liberty tends to reach extremes, such as libertinism, licentiousness, amorality,

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permissiveness, capriciousness or irrationality." I remember remarking to Alam at this point, that the Western cult of individual freedom was mainly generated by Western man's passion for excitement, which, by keeping him in infancy, prevents him reaching serenity and wisdom. I emphasised that individual freedom was the supreme aspiration of the infantile mentality, which transformed the majority of Western men into excited Peter Pans (but not women, who are naturally more responsible). His further comments were: ... "Western Capitalism will collapse because of its own irrationality. The Western individual freedom and independence are creating more and more individual loneliness and alienation, which increase individual sadness and depression, confusion and disorientation, reducing the individual economic efficiency, this pillar of Western Capitalism." ... "With its precariousness and disorientation, Western individual freedom created Western cleve rness, amorality and hypocrisy, which denigrate humane virtues such as honesty, decency or dignity." ... "Western individual freedom, in its desire to prove itself, is restless, agitated, aggressive, invasive and imperial." ... "Christianity helped Western hypocrisy by transforming cleverness into a virtue. The leaders of Christian Churches loudly recite their preaching in public, but they seldom follow their preaching in private." ... "In the Western mind, even religious beliefs are manipulated by cleverness, which creates supreme deviousness." Alam repeatedly said that Western Capitalism was heading for agony in the 21st Century. This idea coincided with my own view that Western Capitalism's obsession with economic growth is the clearest evidence of its self-destructive tendency. Growth has to be stimulated by an irritant. In the West the irritant is discontent, which feeds on the West's cult of individual freedom. This irritant cannot be soothed or eradicated by growth, because it is an intrinsic part of individual freedom and above all, because

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growth's increasing complexity, therefore mounting instability, increases vulnerability and irritation, which stimulates more growth. Western Capitalism is therefore bound to end in overgrowth, which is followed by breakdown. The irrationality or absurdity of Western Capitalism can be seen in the fact that its increasing economic growth is sustained by the excessive exploitation of the Planet's limited natural resources and by the degradation of the Planet's environmental and climatic conditions, thus contrary to its future existence. The agony of Western Capitalism is that, in order to increase its growth, it is cultivating unhealthy consumerism, thus helping people and governments to march faster towards bankruptcy. The freedom of cancer cells to grow ends up killing the host.

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Amir Assodollah Alam

H.M. Queen Farah Diba Pahlavi

The Author and Rudi Alam (June 2007)

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Farah Diba

Thinking about Alam, years later I was fortunate to meet the Shah's widow, Princess Farah Diba, introduced to me by Alam's daughter, Rudi. Apart from her physical beauty and allure, she was blessed with the wisdom of a healthy common sense. My first meeting with Farah Diba was in the South of France. Rudi, who was staying with her, invited me because she knew I played Bridge, the favourite game of Farah Diba and her sisterin-law Princess Ashrof. There are significant differences in the Bridge that is played by different cultures, as with all games. The West, on the whole, is out to win while Easterners just like to play. In fact, the West constantly transforms purely entertaining games into competitions. After that evening I was invited to the Princess's villa several times. During idle hours around the swimming pool I got to know her and gained her confidence, particularly when she discovered that I had been a good friend of Rudi's father, her late husband's loyal minister. Alam was the one person whom the Shah trusted. I believe that the Iranian throne would never have fallen had Alam still been alive. He had enormous political and tribal experience, but had died in April 1978, just six months before the Shah was overthrown. One afternoon I suggested to Farah Diba, that she should write a book, from a woman's point of view, about the men in power whom she had met. She answered that it would have to be a short comic book, as most men in power have one thing in common, they loose contact with reality as power inflates their ego to the point of ridicule. She explained that: "In order to be justified, political power should be humane. In order to be humane, power should be maternal. In order to be maternal, man has to have feelings, and a man with feelings cannot reach power." I remember I once asked her opinion about the future of Capitalism, as I was working on a book on the subject. She

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explained that Capitalism was in tune with the Western mentality of grabbing everything. It has reduced man's dignity to its lowest level. "When the Shah was in power," she explained, "Westerners crawled around his palace to get business. After he was exiled, few Westerners came to his aid. Without dignity there is no sense of decency. The Americans, who had a very privileged position in the exploitation of Iran" she added after a pause, "refused my husband's entry into the United States to see his doctors when he was dying. No wonder Americans have few friends in the world. They lack kindness," she went on, "and they give the impression that they hate kindness, as if kindness diminished their cult of toughness and aggressiveness." "The Art of living well depends on having a cult of beauty," she explained one day. "Such beauty can only be achieved through virtue, moral excellence and elegant harmony."

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Maurice

Today I met my new window cleaner, an illegal immigrant. When he told me that he was from the eastern province of Romania, called Bessarabia, my thoughts ran to Maurice, whom I consider a perfect example of the irony of life. I met Maurice in 1949, in my office, in Rome, where I dealt with refugees. In my free time I also helped refugees from Eastern European countries to emigrate or to settle in Italy. Maurice was a 25-year-old Jew from Kishinev, the capital of Bessarabia. When Bessarabia was assigned to Soviet Russia in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939, he had left his parents and his hometown and settled in Bucharest. In 1941, Ion Antonescu, the head of the Romanian, Nazi orientated, `Iron Guard' movement, became prime minister. In his speech to the Ministers' Council that year, he made this horrific statement: "... With the risk of not being understood by the traditionalists who may be amongst you, I am in favour of the forced migration of the entire Jew element from Bessarabia and Bukovina, who must be pushed over the border. Also, I am in favour of the forced migration of the Ukrainian element, which does not belong here at this time. I don't care if we appear barbaric to History. The Roman Empire, from a contemporary point of view, performed a series of barbaric acts, yet it was the greatest political settlement. There has never been a more suitable moment. If necessary, machine gun them." In July of the same year he started to rid the country of its Jews. Maurice managed to escape, illegally, into Yugoslavia. Once in Yugoslavia, he was coerced into joining Tito's Communist forces, which were fighting Fascism and the German occupation. He quickly became a lieutenant. In the meantime Maurice received news from Bessarabia that his whole family had been wiped out by the Germans and their Romanian collaborators.

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In February 1946, Maurice, once more illegally, arrived in Italy with the intention of going to settle in Palestine. Twice his passage to Palestine, on an Italian fishing boat, was halted by the British Navy and both times he was sent back to Italy. He asked me if there was any chance he could immigrate to America. His only surviving relative, his mother's sister, lived in New York. I advised him that he might be able to, but knowing America's obsessive fear of Communism, he should avoid mentioning his participation with the Yugoslav Communist forces. He, however, insisted on telling the truth and told the American Consulate everything. His application was rejected. He came back to tell me I had been right, but he could not follow my advice and lie. He also told me that from the moment he was rejected by the Americans, the Italian police kept on coming to inspect his room, each time advising him to leave Italy. Then I suggested he could emigrate to Cuba. I was friendly with the Cuban ambassador in Rome and I could get him a visa for Cuba. Since Cuba's President Batista was an ally of America, his aunt could visit him, and he could get a visitor's visa to America to see her. He went to Cuba. I later received a letter form him telling me that his aunt had come to Havana and was helping him to start an export/import business. In 1961 I was in Paris for a few days. One evening I was dining with some friends at the new Drug Store in the Champs Elysée, when I spotted Maurice coming in. The moment he saw me he hurried over, greeted me fondly, and told me, laughing, that he was once again a refugee. He had managed to build a good life and a successful business in Cuba. Howeve r, when Castro took power, he was considered an exploitive capitalist and was given two days to leave Cuba, which he did, with just two shirts and two pairs of pants to his name, less than he had had when he first arrived there. He had come to Paris, because in Havana he had become friendly with a Russian who had come here as refugee from the Communist revolution in 1917. This friend was the manager of

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a hotel in Paris and had offered Maurice a room in his hotel until he found a job and a place of his own to live. "Life seems to reject me," Maurice laughed. "But" he added with a wink, "on the other hand, life was kind to bring me to Paris which is `La Patrie' for those who love beauty." He left me and went to sit with a pretty and cheerful looking girl. As I watched him with his lady, it seemed to me that Maurice found being a refugee in Paris was preferable to being rich in Cuba. It reminded me of the Italian proverb `It is not true that all misfortunes are harmful.' My train of thought returned to my Bessarabian window cleaner, which gave me an idea. I suggested to my publisher that amongst the friendly praise on the back cover of my book should be one from him saying: `"This book is crystal clear": The window cleaner.'

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Margherita Sarfatti

Last night I dreamt of Margherita Sarfatti. Whenever I dream or think of my remarkable friend, I am left with a sense of pride and contentment for while. Margherita belonged to one of the most respected and reputable Jewish families of Venice. She was, quite apart from being Mussolini's mistress and mentor, an important influence in her own right, on the social and political life in the Italy of the time. Her `Salons Littéraires' became internationally popular. Her creation and organisation of the `Novecento' movement dominated European Art between the two world wars and France, in recognition of her cultural achievements, awarded her the `Légion d'Honneur'. She worshipped Ruskin and was so in love with the poet Shelley that, from time to time, she would ask me to accompany her to the ruins of Caracalla Baths in Rome where Shelley composed his famous poem, `Prometheus Unbound'. She wrote `Dux' (Latin for `il duce' - the leader), a biography of Mussolini, which launched the Italian dictator onto the world stage. When, in 1937, under Hitler's influences, her lover, Mussolini started to introduce anti-Semitism into his policies, Margherita left for Argentina, not to return until 1947. Once back in Rome, she lived in a suite of the Hotel Ambasciatori in Via Veneto, and was to be found in the Café Strega opposite, most days about noon. "I have become a voyeur in my old age. I love watching people moving around, it makes me more alive," she used to say. I first met Margherita in 1954. She was in her favourite café with the editor of the newspaper `Il Roma'. Both of us wrote articles on literature and artistic reviews for the paper, the difference being that she was paid much more than I. Coincidences often help create friendships. When she discovered that my novel `Prigionieri Nella Giungla d'Asfalto,' was

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published by `La Voce' of Florence, she became tenderly nostalgic. She explained, with her eyes shining with pleasure, that before the First World War `La Voce' used to publish an `avantgarde' magazine, in which many of her first writings were printed. Because of this `connection' she started to treat me as if we had always known each other, which pleased me and thereafter we often met at the café. I loved talking to Margherita, it gave me the impression I was participating in History. She was outstandingly informed and intelligent. She loved my company, she said, because of my jovial nature and sense of humour, which could reduce the impact of the most tragic situation, by seeing its funny or silly side. I told her that I was doing research for my book on `Humour Therapy', in which I maintained that if we are able to create psychosomatic diseases or mental disorders by being dramatic or over-serious, then we should also be able to create psychosomatic wellbeing and common sense, by dissolving gloominess with a sense of humour. One day I went to see her in her hotel. "What are you reading?" I had asked, sitting down next to her. "Amore..." she answered, "these are the proofs of my new book." Encouraged by my astonished look, she continued, "I have entitled it `L'Amore Svalutato', I want to tell the world that love has been devaluated, that it has lost its real value." Feeling that she wanted to expand I asked her to explain. "Speed is killing time, which is essential for loving," she answered, "and the beauty of love consists of its foreplay, of its prologue, which needs time to take place." I wondered why so many people I talked to, complained about the world's increasing obsession with speed and why they found it so irritating. Perhaps it was because speed annihilates not only love, but life itself, which becomes the most precious thing left in old age. One day, as I joined her in the café, she had an expression of amusement on her face. I will never forget it; she could hardly

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wait to tell me about the latest piece of gossip in the Via Veneto. I knew that people were puzzled about our relationship, we were together so often, but were obviously not lovers. She had found out that they had finally come up with the answer. I was the illegitimate son that she had had with Mussolini but had been kept abroad during the Fascist period in order not to embarrass Il Duce. Her amusement, and pleasure, at the idea was something I will always cherish. Margherita died on 30th October 1961. Her last article, written for a magazine a few weeks before her death was entitled `What a discovery...a stupendous discovery,' in which she explained that a sense of humour was the greatest achievement humans can aspire to. This encouraged me to pursue the research and finish writing my book `Humour Therapy.' There were some intriguing facts about Margherita's life, which I had difficulty in understanding and which she never discussed. One of these was her relationship with Mussolini. How or why such an intelligent woman, with such an exceptional sense of beauty, who was brought up in Venetian palazzos decorated with fined art and exquisite artefacts, could have been seduced by Mussolini, a brutish, violent and vulgar person? Such a relationship was even more incomprehensible as she was happily married and strongly attached to her children, particularly her first born son, Roberto. Perhaps it was just the old cliché, the attraction of opposites, Beauty and the Beast. Another puzzling part of Margherita's life was her active collaboration with Fascism: why, as a Jewess, was she involved in a system, such as Fascism, which contained anti-Semitic elements? I felt, however, that this was in some way due to the death of her son Roberto. He was killed, at 17, when he went as a volunteer to the front, fighting the Austrians, in the First World War. He was posthumously awarded the highest decoration of the State for his hero- 88 -

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ic fight and death and in 1934 the Fascist Government built an impressive monument to him, on the Plateau of Assiago, not far from the place where his young life ended. I had the feeling that Margherita embraced Fascism because it cultivated Patriotism. She became the noble mother who had sacrificed her son on the altar of `La Patria'. By glorifying her beloved Roberto's sacrifice, she became proud. This offset her guilt that his death had somehow been caused by her relationship with Mussolini.

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Sundays are for Suicide

I start most Sundays with a sad smile. Once one reaches a certain age, one gets more telephone calls on Sundays than other days. These are mainly from other old people who feel particularly lonely on Sunday. This reminds me of an odd story. Between the two world wars, the country with the highest number of suicides in Europe was Hungary. A Hungarian composer discovered that most suicides happened on Sundays. He composed a tango called `The Sad Sunday', which became famous all around the world. Many suicides put this record on to die to. In 1951, I read in the newspaper that the famous composer of `The Sad Sunday' had committed suicide the day before, a Sunday. I wonder if he was listening to his successful record at the time.

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A Touch of English Humour

Today I had a lesson on the English sense of humour. A girlfriend of mine asked me to accompany her to Chelsea Police station; she wanted to report that her car had been stolen. When the officer in charge finished taking notes, I tried to introduce some humour, telling him that I thought that people in England didn't steal cars. Noticing my accent, he answered smiling: "We have a lot of foreigners in England, Sir." This exchange reminded me of another lesson in humour. One day, as I was walking in the King's Road, Chelsea, I saw a lady approaching me smiling. I knew that I had met her before but I could not remember who she was. As we met she said: "I see you do not recognise me." "I know we have met, but to be honest I do not remember where or when." Wanting to create a humorous note I added: "However, we can start a conversation immediately, if you help me, as lately I have developed Alzheimer's. Have we been in bed together?" I smiled. She looked at me with amusement and said: "What a pity, I have also Alzheimer's and I do not remember," and went on her way.

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Jacqueline Lee Bouvier

This evening the television was filled with the news of the death of Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy Onassis and I thought of the first time I met her. It was at John Sargent's Christmas party in 1976, a year after her second husband, the Greek shipping millionaire Aristotle Onassis, had died. John Sargent was the Chairman of Doubleday Publishing Company, and he used to give a party in his New York house on Christmas Day for those in town who were single. It was the first time I had met anyone who was clearly suffering from a mental disorder that can only be called `Fame Syndrome'. The fame she had acquired through her first husband, John F. Kennedy, the 33rd President of the United States of America, must have been a powerful drug to transform her into such a fame junkie. Like any addict, Jackie could hardly speak properly, move spontaneously, or look alive. She looked like an alabaster statue, stoned by tragic fame. As I talked to her I realised how this `Fame Syndrome' limits the efficiency of the senses and adversely affects reasoning and behaviour - limelight blinds people. The Americans, desperate for illusions to lean on, took this stoned state of existence to be aristocratic superiority, presuming her slow motions were gracefulness, and her cool fixed smile, so obviously caused by the muscular spasms of the drugged, as an enigma, a mystery. Only Jackie's state of obtuseness, caused by her addiction to fame, could explain the irrational step that she made: that of marrying Onassis. He was ugly, much older than her, shorter than her, gloomy and boring. Even she is reported to have found his coarse manners repulsive. He was rich, but she did not need money. However, she was an addict, and once again she was headline news. After Kennedy's violent death, as time passed, she began to

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lose the position she had enjoyed in the press. There were less column inches about her in the press, and the stories less glamorous, more mundane. To someone so used to the glare, a private life out of the limelight is no life at all. She was the epitome of elegance to the Americans. So, for instance, how could such an icon live on a yacht called after her husband's first wife? The Americans thought they deserved more dignity from their former First Lady, but they did not realise that you cannot make a lady through political elections or media glamorisation. When I next met her at a dinner party, I felt a curious sexual attraction towards her. Odd, because I did not find her attractive so much as I suddenly felt a desire to get through to her, and make this statue come alive. She must have felt it because she froze me with an icy glare, then turned away to the person sitting on her other side, her static smile once more on her mask of a face. That was how Jackie Kennedy Onassis appeared to me. However, I was once fortunate enough to meet `Jacqueline Lee Bouvier'. This came about because she discovered I spoke French, the language of her youth. We started talking in French and the mask fell away. Suddenly, in front of me, was a youthful, witty, enthusiastic, flirtatious and utterly beautiful woman. I was stunned. It became so obvious that since her French preceded her marriage to Kennedy and Onassis and Fame, when she spoke it, she did so without the memory or vocabulary of all that was yet to happen, and all that had created that shell she lived within, and I was flattered.

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Extras

This evening I watched the 1955 film, `The Land of the Pharaohs', on television. For ages after the film had ended, I found myself reminiscing about the people and events surrounding the making of that film at `Cinecitta' in Rome, more than forty years ago, when I had been a stand-in for Sidney Chaplin, son of Sir Charlie Chaplin. I don't believe the children of famous actors should follow in their parents' footsteps as it is a most difficult path to take. They are either overshadowed or never sure they made it on their own merits. Besides, Sidney was an exceptionally timid and kind man, which is a disadvantage in the film industry. The relationship between an actor and his stand-in is a rather interesting one. The stand-in, in a certain sense, holds up a truer mirror to the actor than mere glass can do. In a mirror an actor sees himself more with his ego than his eyes, but in front of his stand-in he sees himself as others will. As a stand-in one treads a fine line between approval and resentment. If the actor is without a massive ego, the relationship can turn into a special friendship. On the other hand, if one is dealing with an inflated ego, it can be murder. Jack Hawkins, who had the leading role in `The Land of the Pharaohs', had little ego, a great sense of humour and laughed at himself, was very nice to his stand-in. Sidney Chaplin, who was timid and humble, became a good friend of mine. There was, however, a Greek actor whose name I have forgotten (probably because I did not like him), who complained to the producer that his stand-in, who was identical in size to him, was too small. The producer was forced to replace the first stand-in with a second one, who was quite a bit taller than the Greek. This annoyed those in charge of the lighting, as they had to constantly change it accordingly, but pleased the Greek. As to the relationships between actresses and their stand-ins,

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I noticed that the more competent the actress, the more friendly she is, not only towards her stand-ins but also towards her dressers and make-up artists. Seeing the film also reminded me of the eyes of the Italian electricians. In the semi-darkness, behind the strong lamps, these glinted like fire flies. A fecund glaze would come over them when illuminating scenes with the sexy Joan Collins, then in her twenties. In my book, `Avventure di Via Veneto', among other things, I dealt with another human element in the film industry, the extras. During the filming of `Quo Vadis' there were hundreds of extras, from Roman Senators to Christians, to slaves, to Pretorian guards. It was interesting to watch how their roles influenced their behaviour, their speech and even their eating habits, in real life. Acting a Roman Senator, for example, an Italian extra would walk straighter with a rigid upright posture, even when not playing the role, and his conversation would be more serious, his manners more dignified. The extras would remain in their particular group during breaks. Filming together, similar roles created a community spirit. Even the Italian assistant directors, in charge of preparing the scenes, would address the different groups in a manner reflecting their roles. For instance, Roman Senators would be commanded with a respectful "Signori Senatori," and Pretorian guards with a loudly pronounced "Pre-to-riani!" The slaves were called a denigrating "Schiavi" and the Christians with a compassionate "Cristiani." Extras tend to develop a deep intuitive feeling towards the directors and the actors of the film in which they participate. Their judgements and opinions about these people and the value of the film they are making are seldom wrong. It was amusing to see how the Italian extras treated Orson Welles. When he starred in `Cagliostro' his first film in Italy, they were impressed by this tall, robust figure, dressed as a

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On location in Dover, England, for an Italian TV series, in the cloak Charlton Heston wore in Spartacus (November 1971).

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Gypsy Magician. When, as an actor, he actually started directing the director of the film, Ratoff, they thought that he was a genius, but when they discovered that his geniality was more amusing than constructive, they called him an "Orsone," which in Italian meant a big clumsy teddy bear. The more amused the extras became with him, the less respectful they became towards him. The less respectful, the less well they performed. When Orson became arrogant and dictatorial towards the technicians, electricians, assistant directors and to them, the extras denigrated him to an "I piedi piatti" (a flat foot). This was the ultimate moral offence, as in Italy flat footed men were rejected by the military for service. On the other hand, there were some particularly charming people in the film industry, like Audrey Hepburn. I loved Audrey for the tenderness which she inspired in me. She exhibited a kind of frailty which evoked, in many of those who saw her films and even more so in those who knew her personally, the desire to protect her. She was loved equally by men and women. I used to meet Audrey at Anita Loos' apartment in New York. Anita had adapted Colette's autobiographical novel `Gigi' for the stage and it was Anita who, with Colette's agreement, had chosen Audrey for the main role and launched her on Broadway. Audrey repaid Anita with a profound gratitude. Whenever Audrey was in New York she would visit the old lady, bringing her presents. They had something special in common, they were both graciously delicate. They also both possessed a childish innocence which, even in its sporadic impertinence, was candid. One day, as I was having tea with Anita at her apartment, along with Audrey and Andy Warhol, who worshipped both women, I noticed that there are certain things which cannot be imitated. Andy was attracted by their gracious candour and was trying to copy them, becoming utterly insincere in the process. I always enjoyed talking to Audrey. There is nothing more satisfying for an author than talking to someone who gives you the impression that, not only do they like your ideas, but that

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they actually need them, have, in fact, been waiting for them all their lives. It was the same with Anita. Looking at Audrey in a detached way once, I wondered why people found her so beautiful. She was so bony that one might have thought she was dying of tuberculosis or suffering from anorexia nervosa. Perhaps it was the look of innocence, that of a startled fawn together with her wide disarming smile that made her so beautiful. She appeared quite innocuous. I suddenly realised that innocuousness was an important part of charm and beauty. I am sure that Audrey's sparkling and seductive gentleness, innocence and innocuousness had helped her achieve the success she so deserved. Without these qualities, the people who dominated the film industry, particularly in the U.S.A. would have never forgiven her father's Nazi past. What was also unique about Audrey's beauty was that, coupled with all her other virtues, her movements were harmonious, acquired no doubt because of her love for ballet. Even when eating and drinking she was somehow performing a graceful dance. It made everyone around her feel clumsy and it was amusing to watch people trying to appear less so. That she loved the ballet was obvious by the way her eyes lit up, her posture straightened and her hands and feet would cross over in the classical pose of a prima ballerina, whenever the subject rose. One day, I asked Anita why Audrey, who could surely have had the pick of glamorous and rich men, had decided to marry an unknown Italian. "She craved the family which she never actually had as a child, and Italians, in her view, love the family," was Anita's answer. I once had a girlfriend who could have been Audrey's twin sister. In the summer of 1958, we were sailing in my boat from Marseilles to Antibes. On our way we moored near the islands of the Porquerolles in order to stock up with food. The island was a nudist colony and both sexes were walking about in the

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island's shopping centre wearing nothing but what was known as `le petit minimum.' My girlfriend, dressed in shorts and a T shirt, with her smile of candid innocence, created a strange reaction in the nudists. It was as if, faced with her innocence, they suddenly became aware of their nudity and were trying to hide it from her, as if their nakedness might offend her tenderness.

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The View from a Cassock

As I sat on my bench in the Kings Road today, I watched as a chauffeur driven limousine glided past, with two colourfully dressed members of the Catholic hierarchy seated inside. I started reminiscing about Rome back in 1952, and one particular occasion came to mind. An American, whom I had met while filming `Quo Vadis', was on the production team of the first Cinerama film, a documentary on the important monuments of the World. He had asked me to act as his assistant. When shooting Saint Peter's in Rome, I had suggested that perhaps a Cardinal strolling in the Piazza would add colour to the scene. The American had agreed, providing I played the Cardinal. It was a unique experience, one that I will never forget, people behaved as if Cardinals could see into their souls. After a few minutes it was easy to spot the guilty from the innocent. The men striding across the square varied in their reaction to me, some doffed their hats, others gave a little bow as they passed, but there were several who hurried by, their eyes fixed to the ground. Some of the pregnant women would stick out their already huge bellies proudly, while a few would slink past hunched over as if trying to hide their illegitimate burden. Nuns gliding along, started to finger their rosary beads once they saw me, placing beatified expressions on their faces. Young girls entering the Cathedral all crossed themselves, frowning and biting their lips, while those leaving wore the radiant smiles of relief. For a moment I had been tempted to go inside and enter a confessional, just in order to hear what some of these girls might be confessing. The Italian writer, Curzio Malaparte, had once told me that Italians enjoyed sinning more than any other nation in the World. Poor for centuries, their only excitement lay in sinning. I remember a quote by Stendhal. He said, as he watched a

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young Italian woman eating a local ice cream with such relish, that it was as if her eyes were saying: "Peccato che non é un peccato" (pity it's not a sin). I was sorry that I had to abandon my role as Cardinal when the filming ended. I remembered, as a journalist, attending a press conference in Bologna, ten years after the fall of Fascism, given by Dino Grandi. He was a powerful member of the Fascist government and had been Ambassador to the Court of St James in London before the war. During the press conference I had asked him if there was such a thing as re-incarnation, would he come back as a Fascist again. With an enigmatic smile he had replied that if he had the chance to be reborn there were only two lives he would consider, either as a dog in England, or as a Cardinal in Rome.

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Karol Józef Wojtyla

It was pathetic. On TV was a moribund Pope John Paul II trying to bless the crowd outside his hospital in Rome, as they gazed in religious stupor towards his window. It might interest readers to know that, before becoming a priest, Karol Józef Wojtyla, was an actor. In fact many political or religious leaders succeeded in becoming prominent not because they were great believers, but because they were talented actors. A fervent believer tends to become fanatical, which can limit his success. A good actor has the advantage, as he can be devious, deceptive and hypocritical with impunity, all very useful tools when striving for success. I met Karol Wojtyla on several occasions in Rome in the 1950s when I was working for the `American Polish War Relief ' and he was a visiting Bishop from Krakow. He expressed an interest in my book `Capitalism, Communism and a Third Way'. I thought for a moment, when he became Pope, to remind him of my book. I thought he might have promoted my third way economy which degraded both Capitalism and Communism. However, when I gave the idea more thought, I realised I was being naïve. Throughout history Christian Churches have tended to ally themselves with the rich and pray for the poor, and it was unlikely this pope would break with tradition, when it was tradition that had chosen him. He was adamant that the founder of the fanatical but rich Catholic Order `Opus Dei' should be promoted, as soon as possible, to Sainthood. As Pope, he became a great believer in Western Capitalism, as this was the enemy of Communism. He did not take into account that Capitalism cultivates individual freedom, which increases individual discontent. Rich people search for a remedy for their discontent in new beliefs, often far removed from Christianity, one reason why Christian churches are becoming

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emptier. I wondered if the dying Pope's last blessing of the believers outside his hospital was tinged with regret for having been too clever. He might have realised that Christian Churches would be wise to help keep Communism alive, in order to make Western Capitalism less aggressive and more humane. Above all, he might have realised, that our only God and creator is our environment, which should be worshipped, loved and cultivated.

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Princess Marthe Bibesco

For the last two days, the figure of Princess Marthe Bibesco was floating in my mind. This was perhaps because of the dramatic media coverage of the floods in Romania. Marthe was another of the many interesting people I have met. Princess Marthe Lucie Lahovary was born in Bucharest in 1886. Her father was Prince Jean Lahovary, a wealthy member of the Romanian nobility, of Levantine origin, who, as the new state was emerging out of the dying Ottoman Empire, dominated Romanian foreign policy at the beginning of the 20th Century. In 1902, at the age of 16, her father married her off to a distant cousin, Price George-Valentin Bibesco, whose family ruled the prosperous province of Walachia, in the south of present day Romania. Marthe had entered adult life whilst still an adolescent. Sometimes this can arrest the passing of juvenile, capricious, flirtatious, mischievous and sometimes amoral, behaviour. Such was the case with Marthe, she became a jolly, often insouciant, eternally-adolescent adult. Her first sexual experience was a disappointment. She regarded it as a kind of rape, a primitive and coarse activity. She said in her book, `Où Tombe La Foudre', that, "Giving a virgin to a man is like giving a Stradivarius to a monkey." She also wrote: "The physical union of two people is like a murder." An adolescent mentality is beset by doubts and uncertainties, which Marthe tried to counter by her pursuit of success and conquest. Her vivacious green eyes, the flirtatious movements of her body, her abundant red hair, her natural elegance and acquired sophistication (guided by the expert dress maker Coco Chanel), her jewels, her perfect knowledge of French, German, English and Romanian, her title of Princess (which was more a role she cultivated, than a noble title she bore) and her middle European

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astuteness, all helped Marthe to impress those she wanted to seduce, conquer and exploit, in order to reduce her insecurity. Marthe's studied glamour and calculated suave charm helped her seduce, as glamour and charm can easily anaesthetise those who are attracted by them. Her own quote that, "Fashion is what clothes reality and offers dreams," sums her up perfectly. To be in Paris, for Romanians at that time, was the supreme aspiration of the rich, their second `patrie'. Marthe had grown up there, and the young and handsome Prince and Princess Bibesco built their second home in Paris in 1908, at the height of `La Belle Époque'. Marthe and George were already part of the `Beau Monde' of this era, which was dominated by the `Salons' of the Faubourg St. Germain. Marcel Proust, the patriarch of Parisian social life, was close to George's cousin Prince Antoine and his wife Elizabeth (née Asquith) Bibesco, as well as an intimate friend of another cousin, Emmanuel Bibesco. Proust became enchanted by Marthe and remained so for the rest of his life. Marthe seduced many of the most influential people in Europe in the first half of the 20th Century. One such was Prince Charles-Louis de Beauvau-Craon, one of the best-looking men of the `Beau Monde'. She was a friend of the Romanian King Ferdinand. She organised a meeting between his son Karol, (future King of Romania), and the daughters of Russian Tsar Nicholas ll, in the hope of creating a better future for her country with a marriage between the two dynasties. Her playful attentions conquered the German Crown Prince Wilhelm and kept alive a relationship that lasted the three years before the First World War. She charmed the Spanish King Alphonso Xlll, and the British Prime Minister Herbert Asquith. Her cheerful amorousness also won the affection of another British Prime Minister, Ramsay MacDonald. Aristide Briand, three times Prime Minister of France, came under her spell. Charles de Gaulle became a close friend, as did

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the wealthy Philippe de Rothschild. Marthe also engaged in another `game', which she found exciting. She exchanged her Orthodoxy for Catholicism. Her justification for this was that she found the style of Catholic ritualism more attractive. Her conquest of key figures in the literary world, like Marcel Proust, also included Jean Cocteau, Paul Claudel and André Gide. Her seduction of Senator Henry Bertrand Léon de Jouvenel, editor of popular daily `Le Matin', husband of the famous writer Colette, did not hurt her literary career either. In 1903, she had won a prestigious literary prize for her novel `Huit Paradis' from the French Academy, which increased her self-confidence and her popularity as an author. In 1968, five years before she died, France honoured her with the `Légion d'Honneur' for `services rendered'. Throughout, and despite, all these amorous adventures she even managed to keep her husband enchanted, who was proud of her and her success. I first met Marthe in Paris, in December 1946, when her relative, Mircea, a Romanian friend of mine from University, wanted me to accompany him when he met her for tea at the Ritz Hotel. He told me a great deal about her and I was intrigued. I had already heard about her from her friend, Dora Labouchere, one of the richest English women who married the Italian Prince, Eugenio Ruspoli, with whom I used to play Bridge when I lived in Rome. (In 1958, I married their daughter, Francesca Ruspoli.) Dora and Marthe were good friends. They even shared the friendship of the then most fashionable portrait painter of the `Beau Monde', Giovanni Boldini. When I met Marthe that day, she had just escaped, with the help of British Intelligence, from her country, which was occupied by Soviet Russia and Romanian Communists. It was typical of her style to live in the prestigious Ritz Hotel as a refugee. Later she told me that becoming a refugee had felt like being an orphan in need of special care in order to regain self-confidence.

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Princess Franschesca Ruspoli Bokun

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She was pleased to hear of my friendship with her friends Dora and Eugenio Ruspoli, to such an extent that when we had finished tea and a French lady approached to greet her, Marthe introduced Mircea as her nephew and me as Baron Bokun. When the lady left, she looked at me and jokingly added, "Baron Bokun sounds right for your age." During the cold winter of 1947, I often went with Mircea to visit Marthe at the Ritz, and to enjoy the warmth of the Hotel. She loved our visits, she wanted to know about student life, which, I had the impression, she would have loved to have had. During one of these visits I asked Marthe what had been the most pleasant moments of her life. "The most interesting part of my life was during the Versailles Peace Conference which took place after the First World War," she explained. "I felt I was taking part in history. Paris was full of politicians and diplomats from all around the world. Unfortunately, the Peace Conference took place in an atmosphere still influenced by the mentality of `La Belle Époque' in which `divertissement' and superficial `side shows' were more important than what was happening on centre stage. In fact, the Peace Conference's decisions were the main cause of the Second World War and its atrocities. All kinds of wheeling and dealing took place. Bribery and prostitution of all sorts were permitted and even applauded. We Romanians came out of it well," she smiled. "We got parts of Bucovina, Bessarabia, Dobruza, Transylvania and Banat...we became `La Grande Roumanie'. In fact, the Conference ended leaving everyone unhappy: the defeated were unhappy because they were deeply offended by the conditions imposed on them, victors were unhappy because they thought they could have done better and most of the participants were unhappy when the Conference ended as they had to leave Paris. Particularly unhappy were the `Filles de Joie', of all classes and nationalities, who came to Paris in order to help politicians and diplomats in their `divertissements'." Marthe laughed. "On a very personal note, the most beautiful moments of my

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life were whilst travelling on the Orient Express, between Paris and the Balkans. When travelling, I felt suspended in a fantasy world, out of space and time, in the relaxing emptiness between departures and arrivals. What is more, whilst travelling on that train, one is surrounded by elegance, courtesy and manners, which contributes towards one's personal dignity." After I moved to London with my wife Francesca, I still saw Marthe from time to time, when she came to visit the one and only real love of her life, her daughter's son George Ghika, who was at school in England. Her greatest desire was to transform her grandson into an English gentleman. In order to perpetuate her husband's title she changed his name from Ghika to Bibesco. The irony of life! At the age of 16 George absconded from school and left England. She later discovered that he had changed his name from Prince George Bibesco to Mr. George Moore and had joined the Australian Merchant Navy as a ship's boy. Marthe died in the autumn of 1973, a good season to die in for a `grande dame'. She spent her last days sitting in an armchair in front of the window of her apartment in Quay Bourbon, on the Island of St. Louis, watching `Les Bateaux Mouches' carrying tourists up and down the river Seine. Looking at the boats, she might have thought that, after all, we are nothing but tourists in life, leaving behind us a few photos of ourselves in places we visited with excitement, illusions or hopes. Thinking about the times I took tea at the Ritz Hotel, Paris, reminded me of a strange episode. After the Second World War, as a student and a refugee without a work permit, I had to do some unusual jobs, in order to survive. One of these was as a `Taxi Danseur' in a Tea Dance Salon, in Avenue Montagne. My job was to offer dances to single ladies. As a Taxi Danseur, one meets a great variety of women. One case was extremely unusual. A lady I was dancing with one day,

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asked me to come and have a drink at her place after work. When I arrived, she was in her `robe de chambre' with nothing underneath. Once in bed, her cheerful attitude suddenly changed. She became serious. Looking at me with pleading eyes she said; "Please, do not be outraged, I am sick person. The only thing I would enjoy is if you would shit on my naked bosom." I exploded into loud laughter. "I knew it," she said, "I have deeply offended you...Forgive me," she added. "No, not at all," I answered, "you have not offended me, even if I wanted to please you I cannot do it...I have not had a proper meal for three days." She burst into tears, sobbing repeatedly: "I am sorry, I'm terribly sorry." The next Thursday, when I was on duty in the Tea Dance Salon I saw the same lady. She made a sign that she wanted to dance. As we danced she placed an envelope into my pocket. "Please, here is a fee you deserve. You cured me, the idea of my vice is now forever linked to your story and I no longer have the same desire." Thinking about other jobs I had to do in post war Paris, the one of the `plongeur' in a restaurant in the Quartier Latin, also comes to mind. Contrary to what one might assume, with its pretentious sounding name, a `plongeur' is merely a humble dish washer. I was sharing the job with an old Russian, called Nikita, a refugee from the First World War. One day Nikita told me that he could guess the character of the clients of the restaurant by looking at the leftovers on their plates. "Vain people always leave their chips," he insisted. "The greedy leave nothing on the plate, while the mean leave a lot of salt and pepper pedantically concentrated in a corner of the plate. The obsessed leave the skin of the chicken, the fat of the meat, the rind of the cheese and apple peel and the fastidious

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leave nothing, having wiped the plate clean with bread. Those in love leave most of the food with broken bits of toothpicks, bread crumbs and cigarette butts...Each consumer's plate is a picture of his mentality," said Nikita convincingly. Many of the old Russian refugees that I met in Paris loved being silly, they even smiled at themselves when they thought they were being funny. Nikita also used to finish all the half full glasses of red wine which the waiters brought back to the kitchen. "The taste of good wine neutralises the smell and the sight of the dustbins," he used to say. At the end of the work, intoxicated by the left-over wine, Nikita would look into the remains in the dustbins and spit into them murmuring, "Rubbish is the main product of humanity." He would then ask me to offer him a cigarette; he was one of those smokers who never smoked his own cigarettes. One day Nikita announced that he would write a book on judging the different nationalities by the leftovers on their plates or in their glasses. The book would also explain the differences in their eating habits. "First of all," he announced, "there is a big difference in the way men and women eat. Women eat slowly in a gentle way, they have an innate rhythm of eating, they possess a natural ability to nurture, which influences their way of eating. Man has no instinct to nurture, he eats violently, he does not have the patience to eat slowly nor to masticate elegantly. He swallows the food as if he was frightened that somebody might take it away, or as if it was his last supper." On another occasion Nikita read some lines from his notes to me. "The French are obsessed with eating. They invented `apéritifs', drinks to increase their appetite in order to eat more than necessary, and then they invented `digestifs', the drink that helps them digest superfluous food. Perhaps that is why the French consume more medicines to fight the consequences of overindulgence than anyone else. The French have a cult of indul- 111 -

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gence; it helps them increase their sense of importance. Italians created spaghetti more to please their sensuality than their appetites. When you see Italians eat spaghetti, they look as though they are ravaging it. Americans rush everything, even eating, hence `fast-food'. They swallow their food in order not to lose time, as time is money, which Americans use to buy more things to rush. Priests of different religions, eat in a different way. Catholic priests appreciate food and drink more than those of any other religious denomination." Nikita intended to entitle his book: "Show me how you eat or show me your leftovers and I will tell you who you are." The more Nikita consumed the left-over wine, the more he would talk to himself. The more he talked to himself, the more he criticised the French government. After four months of work as a `plongeur', I left Paris for Italy where I was offered a job with a magazine as a journalist. I missed Nikita, I never saw him again. I never discovered if he finished writing his book.

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Curzio Malaparte

I was sitting on my usual bench in front of Chelsea Town Hall. On the next bench was another old man. He was talking to his dog. Whenever I see a person talking to his dog, the image of Curzio Malaparte comes to mind. He used to spend a long time talking to his dogs, asking them questions and answering for them. He even had a marble monument to one of his dogs in the courtyard of his villa in Capri. Whenever he was travelling, he used to send postcards to his dogs. I was always intrigued by the kind of people who spend a lot of time with dogs. I developed a theory that people who talk to dogs, place in them attributes needed by their own self-love. They consider their dogs loving, faithful, grateful, understanding and appreciative. That is what self-love needs from others. Curzio was a celebrity from the end of the First World War to his death in 1957. He became a successful journalist, and an even more successful writer. He wrote a masterpiece, `Kaput', which dealt with the atrocities during the Second World War, in what is now former Yugoslavia. However, he became most popular because of his great success with women, which was an important attribute in Italy, the country of Casanova. His fame as a seducer was heightened by the fact that he was successful with successful women. He loved poor people, but seldom tried to seduce them. His fame reached its peak when he became the lover of Virginia Agnelli, the widow of the founder of Fiat cars. In order to attract more interest, he changed his name from the anonymous sounding Kurt Erich Suckert (his father was German, his mother Italian), to the more provocative, Curzio Malaparte, a pun on Bonaparte. I met Curzio at the beginning of 1942. He was about to be sent, by an Italian newspaper, to the Balkans as a war correspondent, and he needed someone to explain the national characteristics and the background of the ethnic groups of that region.

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A few years after the Second World War, I met Curzio again in the café of the central piazza of Capri. I was particularly pleased that he invited me for lunch in his villa the day after, and even more pleased when he told me that he read and liked my book `Capitalism, Communism and a Third Way' which had just been published. The next day I went to Curzio's villa, at Cap Massullo, for lunch. The drawing room, which was long and large, had four big windows facing the sea decorated with some impressive paintings by his friend Savinio, Giorgio de Chirico's brother. On the first floor was his room, next to `La Stanza della Favorita', the room of the current favourite lady. Among the other guests at lunch that day was Edda Mussolini Ciano. The conversation during lunch jumped from subject to subject. Here are some of the stories which have forever stayed in my memory. Edda's youngest son Marzio was, in those days, often reported by the media for his eccentric behaviour. At a certain point Edda exclaimed: "My tragedy in life was that I never succeeded to be myself. Before I was married I was classified and treated as `Mussolini's daughter', when I married the handsome Galeazzo, I was known and treated as `Ciano's wife', now I am classified and treated as `Marzio's mother'." The second interesting idea during lunch came from Curzio. He explained that the greatest tragedy of Italy was the Vatican, as it had, for centuries, absorbed the cleverest Italians for its administration and diplomacy, leaving only mediocrity to run the Italian State and economy. The third story came from the editor of a Neapolitan daily who explained, by the following joke, Italian humanity and kindness. The story goes: one night an Italian sailor, returning to his ship in the bay of Naples, saw a young woman crying at the entrance to the harbour. She told the sailor that her fiancé had gone to Brazil and that he wrote to her to join him there. As she

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could not afford the price of the trip, she was trying to stowaway but had not managed it. The sailor told her that she was lucky, that his ship was going to Brazil the next day and that he would smuggle her on board and hide her in his cabin until they reached Brazil. She was so grateful, and she expressed her gratitude by offering herself to him during the trip. After two weeks at sea, the Captain of the ship, during an inspection, found the hidden woman. She fell on her knees begging the Captain to forgive the sailor, as he was so kind as to help her reach Brazil. "What Brazil?!" The captain shouted. "This is the Napoli to Palermo ferry!" In June 1957, I read in the press, that Curzio had been taken to the Sanatrix Clinic in Rome, because he had cancer. I went to see him, he looked like an old man, much older than his age. His big eyes glinted with a paralysing fear. I remembered him once saying: "I fear death, death represents cold and solitude, both of which I have always hated." There is a sad irony in the dying of a good-looking person, as they look like a flower or a plant withering away in the autumn. It was so sad to see Curzio, who cultivated his self-love with the discipline of a German, vanishing before my eyes. Then I remembered I had written, in the notes for my book on Humour as Therapy, that self-love creates a strenuous and stressful existence, which tends to reduce the efficiency of the immune system, which allows such diseases as cancer to develop. Curzio was only 59 years old when he died. Looking at the tense expression on Curzio's face, I also remembered from my notes, that the more we self-love, the bigger is our ego, the bigger the ego, the greater the pain, because pain offends a strong ego, which causes the mind to magnify suffering. In his last days, Curzio increasingly despised life, criticising its decadence. I had the impression that his strong ego would have preferred a grander exit from life, as revenge for a life not worth living anymore. I also felt that he would have liked to

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make his exit with the aplomb of a star, with pictures of his dogs, which he kept next to his hospital bed, pressed against his chest where many famous ladies had dreamt about life. His final agony was punctuated by a farcical to-ing and froing of Vatican people who, because of his popularity, wanted to convince Curzio, the atheist, to come back into the fold. They were like a wake of agitated vultures that smelt death coming. Curzio died on 19th July 1957. In his will he left his villa in Capri, with its precious contents, to the Chinese Communist Gove rnment, causing some considerable rage amongst his relatives. At the end of an interesting life, Curzio seems to be missed only by his dogs. He was convinced of the fidelity of dogs, but obviously did not trust them with an inheritance, unless he intended the Chinese to look after them, but then the Chinese eat dog, don't they?

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The Coming of Woman

Reading an article in the London Financial Times about the shortcomings of Western Capitalism, reminded me of a lecture I had given at the Senate House of the University of London in connection with the publication of my book, `Matriarchy in Post-Capitalism'. During that lecture, I explained that Capitalism would ultimately end in insolvency or bankruptcy because the cost of the side effects of the cult of individualism, on which Capitalism leans and on which it bases its economic efficiency, is rapidly increasing. In many Western countries, the cost of the side effects of the cult of individualism is already superior to the economic growth created by the economic efficiency of free and independent individuals. Evidence of this can be seen in the budget deficits of most of the Western Capitalist Democracies. These liberal Capitalist Democracies are also committing the worst crime, public debts, which will have to be re-paid by the next generations. Most of humanity today already lives at the expenses of their children and their children's future. The cult of individualism alienates individuals from each other. Living in alienation, which is a precarious state, creates anxiety and stress, which creates anxiety and stress related diseases and mental disorders. In order to cope with these diseases and mental disorders, we have to spend a great deal of resources. In order to cope with anxiety and stress created by the cult of individualism and Capitalism, we also spend vast amounts consuming alcohol, tobacco and various narcotic drugs. As stress reduces the efficiency of our immune system, the continuous increase of stress in Capitalist countries will open the way to the new diseases, at further cost. Two hundred years ago, asthma was a rarity. Now it has become more prevalent. Could it not be that in some people the severity of AIDS is due to an increase in the deficiency of the immune system directly related to a particularly stressful life?

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By destroying sociality and a sense of social responsibility, the cult of individualism increases individual amorality. It also increases criminality, violence and hooliganism, thereby rapidly increasing the cost of coping with them. By nature, we are a social species. Destroying the natural order, the cult of individualism creates a social disorder in which crime is rewarding and thrives. The cost of sustaining the prison population and the cost of the administration of justice are important elements in the budget deficits in Western democracies. Cultivating individual freedom and independence, liberal Capitalism has killed the family. In killing the family, it killed family education, which provided principles of togetherness, kindness, solidarity and respect. What is more, by destroying the family, the community and their values, the cult of individualism has created lost or disorientated children. The increasing drugs problems in schools are evidence of the side effects of the excessive cult of individualism of parents. The cost of fighting this new epidemic is adding to budget deficits. The cult of individualism is making humanity bankrupt in another significant way. It increases obesity and obesity related diseases, which costs the economy, and social and health services, a great deal of resources. In many cases overweight and obesity are caused by anxiety, loneliness and depression, which are generated by individual isolation and marginalisation caused by the excessive cult of individualism. Increasing the inflation of our ego, the cult of individualism opens the way for corruption, which degrades moral values. Corruption is related to ego: the more inflated an ego, the more corruptible it is. This is so because an inflated ego considers itself above morality, honesty, correctness or decency. The more an ego is inflated, the more that ego believes it deserves more, and the stronger this belief, the deeper the corruptibility. By creating a precarious existence, the cult of the individual ego brings us back to the reptilian `here and now' reasoning and

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behaviour. This type of behaviour has no notion of the future. Without a notion of the future, there is no morality, correctness, decency or respect. What is more, in the present Western obsessive pursuit of glamour and excitement, such virtues are considered unfashionable and boring. Individualism can only realise itself at the expense of the community, sociality, humaneness, loving, sharing and co-operation. The cult of individualism is an irrational phenomenon, a mental disorder. In fact, the cult of individualism bears selfishness, self-centredness, ruthlessness and insensitivity, all of which are also the main characteristics of many mental disorders. Many worshippers of Capitalism insist that the free market works well. However, the law ruling the life of reptilians is also working very well. The fact is that there are millions of years of evolution which should have separated us from that reptilian behaviour by now. The cult of individualism is in essence a cult of our individual wishful egos, each striving for maximum importance. Through importance, a wishful ego hopes to find its validity, which comes at the expense of others. Struggling to reach individual importance makes us selfish, self-centred, insensitive and blind. In this state, we do not notice others and even less their importance. Being unable to notice each other, our struggle to be important, therefore, is futile. What is more, the more we are alienated by our self-centredness, the more we become irrelevant in the eyes of others. Struggling for importance implies struggling for inequality which is a stressful struggle, destined to create a stressful existence. Even sillier is the moment that we finally convince ourselves that we have achieved importance, but in doing so we have alienated ourselves from the rest of the world. In effect, we become nonexistent. When we notice the importance of others, our own sense of importance can become offended. In fact, we are the only

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species able to be offended. An offended ego can develop hatred and envy and these are major sources of aggressive, violent, damaging, destructive and self-destructive, behaviour. Isolating ourselves from reality, the cult of individualism helps our mind create absurdities. One of these absurdities is the mind's obsessive belief that our cultural and material progress are our saviours. Ironically, cultural progress creates progressive pretentiousness and material progress carries a desire for more, a progressive greed, both of which are enemies of our serenity, contentment, happiness and wisdom. In fact, increasing cultural and material progress are increasing our restlessness or agitation, our frustration and intolerance, our rushing, our arrogance, aggression and our violence, and above all our ridiculousness. Human progress tends to become excessive, progressively breaking down life on our planet, transforming it into a desert filled with waste and rubbish. I would like to stress here that the best evidence of the neoteny of our species, of its underdevelopment, of its immaturity, is its desire for more, its obsessive pursuit of progress without being able to realise that any increase in progress increases its desire to gain more of it. Can humanity and the planet be saved from man's so called progress? There is a positive answer if we take into consideration the following facts. Humanity and individual independence cannot co-exist, as the former eliminates the latter and vice versa. There is an important difference between men and women as far as humanity and individual independence are concerned. Because of his more pronounced neoteny, his more infantile mentality, man inclines to develop more self loving than loving, and a less generous and sharing nature than woman, which makes it difficult to form communities or in creating sociality and togetherness. Being less neotenous, more mature than man, woman tends to be less guided by the mind's wishful beliefs and more by practi- 120 -

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cal common sense. We have to keep in mind that, as far as our species is concerned, woman, with her maternal attributes, can reach a higher maturity. By placing woman and her natural maternal attributes, her better understanding of the future and her stronger orientation towards community, into a more prominent position, humanity would have a better chance to develop and survive. No mother would have said for instance, "après moi le déluge," the arrogant attitude of Louis XIV. After all, we have already recognised this, the word `humanity' in many languages, has been given the feminine gender. Unfortunately, trying to reach equality with man, who has an infantile mentality, woman reduces her chance to improve humanity as she places herself in a silly world created by man's speculative mind, by his wishful ideological or religious absurdities, by his illusions. Guided by his mind's speculations man is comic. In imitating a comic man, woman becomes pathetic. A mother, following her man's infantile mind, produces disorientated children, a sad humanity. With its infantile wishful beliefs, man's mind creates a world of great irony, it creates a world constantly mocked or derided by fate or the facts, a world into which, seeking equality with man, woman contributes more and more. Trying to reach equality with infantile minded man prevents woman becoming maternal and without woman's maternal attributes, there is no humanity. There is one way to save humanity and the planet and this is to help both man and woman to become mature. This can be done by helping him and her to become more maternal. In order to become more mature man and woman should replace self-love with loving, selfishness with generosity, self-centredness with empathy and sympathy, self-righteousness with understanding, bad manners with good manners, capriciousness with a smile, superiority with humility, amorality with dignity, dogmatism with flexibility and elegance, and immaturity with fecundity and fruitfulness.

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The Russian Tea Room

Today I felt a special nostalgia. Passing the newsstand outside the Post Office in the King's Road, I saw a copy of the New Yorker. Nostalgia, in general, is created when in a doubtful or uncertain moment our consciousness revives some pleasant memory of the past. Scientists tend to equate nostalgia with melancholy disorders. I think that nostalgia can also be a natural remedy, when invoking good moments of the past succeeds in eliminating, or placating, a negative feeling in the present. My occasional nostalgia of this kind generally brings up memories of the Russian Tea Room, which was at 150W 57th Street in New York, and the episodes that took place in it. The first time I went there, in 1978, was to lunch with Betty Friedan, the author of the famous `The Feminine Mystique', which started the feminist movement. Betty was a great friend of Faith, the owner of the restaurant, which she inherited from her husband Sidney Kaye, a Jewish refugee from Russia. Sidney succeeded in transforming the place into the centre of the intellectual and artistic world of America. His restaurant also attracted many satirists and comedians from Central and Eastern Europe, who influenced the sense of humour of the New Yorker magazine. Betty introduced me to Faith who, I discovered later, was one of the most charming people I have met, a cheerful, intelligent, witty and good person. She introduced the custom of offering free `hors d'oeuvres' to clients. "It makes them feel at home," she explained, "people don't so much starve for food here, they starve for appreciation." Before lunch, as we had drinks in the bar with Betty and Faith, I had a pleasant surprise. A good friend of mine, Jim Stewart-Gordon, who was involved with the Reader's Digest, and whom I used to see often when he lived in London, came over to greet me. It turned out that he was Faith's new husband. This helped me to become a regular visitor at their restaurant,

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whenever I was in New York. Another reason I liked to visit the Russian Tea Room was because, if Jim was around, he would offer me one of the best Cuban cigars `Havana Puros', after my meal, which I loved. I never asked him how he got them in spite of the strong US embargo on Cuban goods. The thought of the Russian Tea Room always reminds me of Faith's sense of humour, which was an important contribution towards the restaurant's success. One day, when a customer asked her if she would reserve a quiet table for him, she answered, "All of our tables are quiet. We only have problems with our customers." This is one of Faith's most memorable remarks. Her restaurant was renowned for serving the best caviar with the best champagne. One day she told me, in her usual amusing tone, that there were special rules in enjoying caviar. "Caviar," she insisted, "always tastes better when you are in black tie, after dark, by candlelight, in the hope of making love, when someone else is paying for it, when you don't know how much it costs." Faith would accompany her invitations to parties in the restaurant with the following witty address: "Russian Tea Room, six minutes and twenty-three seconds from Lincoln Centre and slightly to left of Carnegie Hall." The following story illustrates the popularity of the Russian Tea Room. After his defection from the Soviet Union, the famous ballet star, Rudolf Nureyev, became a regular client of the restaurant whenever he was in New York. When he was interviewed by Time Magazine, the reporter asked him what he like most about America, he answered: "the Russian Tea Room!" When the interviewer repeated the question hoping for a more political answer, Nureyev repeated his answer. When the reporter asked him why, Nureyev answered smiling: "Because here, I am sure, I will not be poisoned." At the end of 1995, Faith decided to sell the restaurant. On 2nd January 1996, she gave a sad goodbye party. After 70 years of glorious existence, which gave such great

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pleasure to so many, the Russian Tea Room closed its doors and with its closure ended a legend. Faith was sad to sell her jewel, but her intuition advised her to do so. She realised that the style and atmosphere of the Russian Tea Room was no longer in tune with the restless and rushing humanity. She realised that one cannot have a fast food version of Champagne and Caviar, Champagne is not drunk, it has to be sipped, and Caviar must be caressed by the tongue and left in the mouth as long as possible. Rushing has killed the art of savouring. The memory of the Russian Tea Room always makes me feel pleasantly nostalgic. This is something that cannot be experienced by those who constantly search for more. Pleasurable nostalgia is a gift produced by gratitude for having been lucky, to have been part of an era of tasteful events, enjoyed with dignity and style.

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Princely Love

Today I was interviewed by Mira Polak, of Serbian Television. One of the questions was: "You have been married to a beautiful woman, Princess Francesca Ruspoli, and for several years have been friends with another beautiful woman, Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia. What is the art of being successful with aristocratic ladies?" "When you fall in love with a princess," I said, "you have to acquire the attributes of a prince. By that I mean be gracious, generous, honourable and caring. Most people only know one love, that of themselves. All women, particularly aristocratic women, value kindness and manners, as these indicate appreciation. Above all, born princesses love a sense of humour, as it nullifies ridicule. Women who become princesses," I went on "by marrying a prince, can become snobs and that can make them appear comic as snobbism lacks style. By marrying a prince, a woman may become a princess, but she might never become a lady. Incidentally, when Francesca decided to inform her father that she had found `the man of her life', and that she wanted to marry me, the father, who was Prince of the Holy Church of Rome, Eton educated, with an English attitude, said: "Who is the gentleman?" When she answered that the `gentleman' was a Yugoslav refugee, he added: "Darling, we should help refugees, but there is a limit!" I love loving. Loving stimulates my generosity, which helps me to maintain good moral and physical health. Science has never explored the effect our nobility, generosity, caring for others or our sympathy for them, has on our health. A friend of mine was abandoned by her husband who had fallen in love with another woman. Soon afterwards, my friend developed cancer and died. I helped her during her illness. She left me her house in London to live in until my death. After my

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The Author and Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia. (Below) Anne Loudon in Chelsea (1971)

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death the house was to be passed onto her two daughters. I called the daughters and told them, in a laughing tone, that they should not pray to god that I die in order to have the house sooner, as I had already renounced the inheritance in their favour. Once I had done this I felt extremely well. My blood pressure and cholesterol levels became normal, I felt energetic and more optimistic. I am sure that this act, and others like it, helped me to achieve an enjoyable old age. I am also certain, that generous people live longer than the mean, selfish and self-centred ones. When one feels healthy, one irradiates a joy of living, which attracts friends, so important in old age. Loving also encompasses fidelity. Fidelity consolidates togetherness, which reduces our anxiety and tension, making us more attractive and graceful, reducing our potential loneliness. Conversely, infidelity encourages lies, which create tension, reducing our ability to digest our food, which, quite apart from the damage it does to our immune system, can distract us and make us clumsy, prone to accidents. All women are princesses and all men are princes, when they love with nobility.

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Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir

Once, when I was in Paris, I decided to have lunch at the Café de Flore, where I often used to sit for hours as a student in 1946. Café de Flore was, at that time, presided over by Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. In the beginning I was intrigued and fascinated, as any young man might have been, by their new ideas. Soon, however, I found myself laughing at their hypocrisy. I had become a close friend of Smilja, a Yugoslav student, who had sexual relationships with both of them. She had been scandalised by their amorality and perverse sexual promiscuity. Finding out about the true nature of their sexual habits had been useful, as it helped me to take them, and their political and intellectual attitudes, less seriously. I realised that preaching morality and practising amorality was typical of Western bourgeoisie. In fact, I understood then why both of them came to hate Albert Camus, who was a decent and honest human being from a working class background, whilst Sartre and de Beauvoir propagated Communism whilst practising bourgeois vices. Smilja told me that there were many girls doing what she did, for money. The French bourgeoisie loved to pay for the vices, it liberates them from guilt. In this case it also seems to have entitled them to write and preach against themselves. I felt that Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir were more collaborators than lovers, at the expense of many others.

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The Eleventh of November

Today is the anniversary of Armistice Day, the end of four years of the atrocious First World War, which made nine million dead and many other millions of physically and mentally damaged youth. English and French television stations ran stories about political leaders and military hierarchies gathering in memory of those who died on the `field of honour'. What honour?! The dead of the First World War, like the dead of all wars, died trying to kill each other. This is not an honourable thing to do, from any point of view, for anyone who considers themselves Homo sapiens, the supposed supreme accomplishment of evolution or the finest of God's creations. Honouring those who died fighting in war only perpetuates wars. Looking at the ceremonies in Paris and London, on TV, commemorating those who lost life in an absurd war, I decided to send a salute to soldiers who were executed for treason or desertion by their own governments because they did not want to kill or be killed. If political or military leaders considered war an honourable activity, then it would be more honourable for them to go to the `field of honour' to kill each other, instead of sending innocent young people. The best memorial for the war would be to sculpt all the unknown soldiers laughing at each other. For some reason this reminds me of the following popular joke, which went around the English trenches during the First World War. The Cannibals of Africa sent their war correspondent to the Front. His first report was "Europeans are savages, they kill each other but they don't eat what they kill."

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Madonna!

Tomorrow I am going to visit my son in Milan. I was last there more than sixty years ago. Many atrocities were committed during the last World War, but one of them left a particular impression on me, perhaps because it was committed by Italians, a people considered incapable of such a disgusting crime. It was the 30th April 1945, I was in Milan. On the way to an appointment I entered the Piazzale Loreto, unusually crowded with people. They were all silent gazing towards the south. Approaching, I witnessed something that horrified me. There, hanging upside down in front of a petrol station were the bodies of Mussolini and his mistress Claretta Petacci. I was not surprised to see Mussolini killed. People often kill their failed dictators in an atrocious way, with rage, because they loved and revered them. By killing their fallen dictators they hope to wipe out the shame of having admired a failure. The Italians hoped, in hanging their once beloved dictator upside down, to rise up from the crawling positions in which they had been during twenty years of Fascist dictatorship. What shook me that day was that Italians, these lovers and venerators of women, had treated a woman in this way, a woman who had followed her man when he needed her most. The Italians created the cult of the Madonna in order to count on her love and protection when in dangerous situations and they are often in a precarious state of existence due to their excessive wishfulness. That, basically, is why Italians, above all others, worship the Madonna, and why they pray and invoke her maternal love because only a divine motherly love can fulfil an Italian's capricious wishful desires. I left the Piazzale Loreto with a heavy heart.

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Chelsea Pensioners

The most iconic inhabitants of Chelsea are the Chelsea Pensioners. Studying them enabled me to publish, in 2001, my book `Humour - Old People's only Saviour'. The Pensioners live in the Royal Hospital Chelsea, which was founded by King Charles II in 1682 `as a retreat for veterans of the regular army who had become unfit for duty, either after 20 years' service or as a result of wounds,' according to the leaflet about the Institution at that time. About 380 pensioners live there today, from the age of 65 to the end of their lives. I visited the Royal Hospital many times to research about old age. The following are some extracts from my findings, which might help those interested in, or concerned with, the problems of old age. Chelsea pensioners live, on average, five years longer than the elderly who live outside the hospital. One of the most marked characteristics of Chelsea pensioners is their sense of humour, which underpins their joy of living, helping them to avoid the sadness, depression, apathy and even diseases, which are often a part of old age. The pensioners' penchant for humour could also explain why disagreements and disputes between them are seldom serious, grave or long lasting. Most of the time, a sense of humour dissolves problems, which is better than solving them, as this can leave behind some resentment or discontent. Being with the Chelsea pensioners also confirms my theory that a sense of gratitude contributes a great deal to a sense of humour. Benevolence and generosity, which are essential elements of a sense of humour, are intimately related to a sense of gratitude. Most of the pensioners are grateful for their luck in having the security, care and protection provided by the Royal Hospital. The importance of gratitude lies in its ability to eliminate pre- 131 -

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tentiousness, which is an ugly and unhealthy source of misery. I also discovered that, in eliminating tension, restlessness, agitation and a desire to rush, gratitude creates time in which to be generous, kind and polite. Kindness and politeness create a calm and relaxing atmosphere. What is more, the kindness and politeness of others can revive our sense of dignity and this can inspire generosity and even nobility in us. Most probably, because they feel more protected by their community, the Chelsea pensioners suffer less insomnia and have fewer nightmares than the elderly who live alone. In developing togetherness, the majority of pensioners develop an exceptional awareness and routine of sharing. They also lose the sense of personal possessions, the longer they live, the fewer possessions they keep. It is evident that old age can be accompanied by memory loss, dementia, Alzheimer's or other mental disorders. There is also evidence to suggest that people with a sense of humour are in a better position to face these problems. Strong minded people who lean on the mind's wishful beliefs, prejudices and ideologies, are evidently more vulnerable to suffer a deterioration of their mental faculties in old age, than those with a sense of humour. Perhaps this is due to the fact that people who rigidly stick to their beliefs exercise less of their brains than those who seek to find humour in life. So, advice for the health of our brain might be: "Use or lose it."

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Railway Stations

I am reminded of an Englishman who used to say "C'est La Gare," instead of, "C'est La Guerre". I have just returned from a visit to Victoria Railway Station in London. I have always enjoyed visiting railway stations from time to time. I did the same when I lived in Rome and Paris. It gives me a special pleasure to sit on a bench near the platforms, or in the waiting room, watching people come and go. Stations are part of the familiar territory of my youth. In my teens I took special courses in French and Italian in Belgrade three times a week for a couple of years. I lived 30 km north of the Yugoslav capital and had to spend several nights at the main station, when late classes meant I missed the last train home. I didn't have the money for a room. This station, apart from the Balkan trains, also served the legendary and mysterious Paris/ Istanbul Orient Express. It was like watching a stage play, or choreographed pedestrian dance, populated by every imaginable type of people from many different countries, including most of the ethnic groups that made up the Balkans went through the station, Albanians, Bosnians, Bulgarians, Croats, Greeks, Macedonians, Montenegrins, Romanians, Serbs, Slovenians and Turks. As I could not sleep in the multinational noise, I sat and observed them all. I spent the time trying to guess their nationalities and cultures. I became very good at this game, as I quickly became aware of how much of their country people carry in their eyes, in their actions or body language, all the reflections of national mind sets. The eyes of Serbians seem to suggest they were adrift in daydreams. In order to help their dreams along, many of these men sipped from a flask of plum brandy, grimacing with pleasure after each swallow. Croats walked to impress, oozing self-confidence as if this would prove their superiority. They believed they were superior

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to other Balkan ethnic groups because, being Catholic, they felt they were part of Western Civilisation. Montenegrins carried their pride on their heads, by wearing the hat from their national costume. They also walked with their bodies as upright as possible, trying to give the impression that they were taller than they were and the hats helped. Albanians regarded everyone with suspicion, which made them look suspicious. Macedonians were easily recognisable because, as their language was a poor mixture of Serbian and Bulgarian, they used a lot of facial expressions and hand movements to punctuate their conversations. From a distance they often appeared to be taking part in a clumsy pantomime. Greeks wore elegant Italian shoes and gave the impression, when talking, that they were addressing themselves. Romanians, possibly judging others by their own standards, kept one hand in a pocket, probably the one where they kept their money. Bulgarians, feeling disorientated, looked even more morose and melancholic than usual. Gypsies were mainly in couples, trying to sell their wares to the passengers, explaining that they were bargains because they were stolen. Pickpockets moved lightly around and within the crowd, frequently touching people, as if to get them used to the contact. Bosnian Serbs, Croats and Muslims had one thing in common: they would walk and talk slowly and monotonously, fearful of being misunderstood. The most inconspicuous people in the railway station were Slovenians, timidly trying to be invisible. I observed the different moods of departing and alighting passengers. Most men, and most young people, were excited and noisy when departing, whilst the women, and in particular mothers with children showed a visible apprehension and tension. Men are looking forward to adventure whilst women are more involved in the process. On arrival, the men and the young

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appeared exhausted and sad, whilst women showed relief. In fact, the main victims of pickpockets seemed to be men departing and women arriving. Another characteristic of the Balkan travellers was that most of the luggage was carried by the women and children, whilst the men carried the train tickets and gave orders to their groups.

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Dior - Branding

Today, as I walked down the King's Road passed the Duke of York's Headquarters I saw the famous running track covered by the large marquee for the bi-annual London Fashion Week. Before I had even reached that point I had been aware of the unusual number of tall, thin, long-legged girls strutting, with high heeled purpose, towards this venue, and a number of less youthful, but possibly better heeled, men and women making their way to the same event at a more sedate pace, all of them absolutely camera ready. Such images always take me back to my first encounter with the world of fashion in Paris, in the winter of 1947. This was one of the coldest on record and, together with the post-war fuel shortages, was merciless for me, a starving and penniless student. On the 12th of February that year, a friend of mine, Ghislaine, was modelling at a fashion show and invited me, mainly because there would be free sandwiches, champagne, and a warm place to be for a few hours. The unknown dress designer was a failed art dealer called Christian Dior. This first experience with the business of fashion, its designers and its disciples, led me to be intrigued with the genre for many years. Ghislaine told me that, like most male dress designers, Dior was attracted to men, not women. It made me curious to find out why women, who are generally more mature then men, patronised the designs of men who were not attracted to women and often appeared to dislike them intensely. I saw that these designers treated their models like lifeless, full sized, dolls, onto which they draped their dreams and fantasies, with little or no hint of respect for the natural beauty of the female form, nor the activities a mature and intelligent woman might engage in. The whole industry seemed to be intent on corrupting not just the shape, but also the movements

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of women. A `catwalk' gait was created that was so unnatural and awkward it necessitated a distortion of the body, and schools to teach it. Female fashion designers are not exempt from this distortion. Chanel's creation, La Garçonne (or Tomboy) Style, was hailed as a breakthrough in the war against women's suppression by a male dominated society. Yet, surely, the `if you can't beat them join them' approach is tantamount to surrender. I am amazed that the human race gives credence to such absurdities, and that so many countries base their economy and industry upon them. It is obvious that Fashion, or `La Mode', has little to do with natural beauty or good taste. In fact, the fashion industry has to pervert all that is naturally appealing, as it makes a living out of embellishments, and natural beauty and good taste need none. An honest smile is far more beautiful than a million pound dress could ever hope to be. Successful dress designers have to have particularly fertile and infantile minds in order to create new, but terminally ill, fantasies twice or three times a year, year after year. Their whole industry is saturated with insecurity and uncertainty, and perhaps Dior's early death of a heart attack at the age of 52, just ten years after that first fashion show, was due in part to this. By buying into this industry, fashion aficionados increase their own insecurity and uncertainty. The more insecure and uncertain people become, the more inclined they are to cling to the idea of being `in fashion', in a uniform which gives them a sense of acceptability, part of the `in' crowd. In fact, they are striving for the absurd impossibility of becoming, even in some small way, the doll on the catwalk, and in doing so, the more insecure they become, the less humour they have, the less likely they are to exhibit any real beauty. Dior himself called fashion an `Act of Faith' able to create enchantment (tailor made for those who wish to avoid reality at any cost). His instant success had more to do with excellent timing, unprecedented financial backing, an efficient press machine,

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an abundance of business sense, and a desire for self-aggrandisement and wealth, rather than an understanding of beauty. Once one dismisses natural beauty's grace and good humour in favour of an illusion, one allows decadence to creep into every orifice. Dior was particularly successful with his fashion accessories. His `decorations' added status to the uniforms he created and dressing up became a ritual of branding from head to foot and beyond, we have not looked back since. The cult of brand names has created diverse consequences. Schoolchildren who cannot afford or do not wear the `right gear' are targeted by bullies, whilst those who do have the desirable branded goods tempt thieves. Japan's 20 - 30 year old women who shun marriage, still live with their parents, are the country's leading consumers, the so-called Parasite Singles, who spend all their earnings buying the right branded goods. Optimistically, since this `fashion' has greatly reduced the birth rate of Japan, it has extinction built in. Branding goes further. The media is awash with information about ways to physically (temporarily and permanently) alter flesh and bone to fit an unnatural `ideal' body design. The next extreme appears to be purely cosmetic preconception designing, I hope that future parents look this word up before contemplating such horrors. The mechanism of the Fashion Industry is mirrored in all aspects of the lives of most, so-called `free', peoples of the developed world. Money, media and egos fashion our languages, relationships, politics, economics and pastimes, our entrances and exits. We are, in reality, bunches of individuals being herded along by the perceived need for economic growth, and all party to the successes of the conniving, manipulative and seductive media armoury. Our obsession with fashion and brands, catch phrases, sound bites and advertising copy, all insidiously supported by background music that tells us how to feel about everything, success- 138 -

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fully disconnects us from reality just as surely as any drug. Fads are absurd, carefully orchestrated cartoons with a limited shelf life, which, sadly, many find too serious to laugh away. The latest catch phrase is `Intelligent Design', an oxymoron which says more about those that coined the phrase, than the theory they wish to extol. We know the truth but fail to act upon it. Having seen all the evidence that our industries, churning out more and more toys for us to play with, are fast destroying the very fabric of the world we rely on, and believing that we are doomed, very few turn off a light, or turn down the heat, or fan, or turn off the television, or stop using the car.

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Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

`O quam cito transit Gloria mundi!' (Oh, how quickly the glory of the world passes!). At a certain time every year, I become particularly sad. The older I get the deeper is this sadness. Each year, on the 6th of January, the streets are suddenly strewn with discarded Christmas trees, once the proud product of a tiny seed. One moment they are the centre of attention in a warm front room, decked out with magical colours and lights, part of the giving and the getting of presents, hugs and kisses; next moment their still vital scent puzzles the night air and they are left to the mercy of careless councils, selective refuge collectors and only of interest to urinating dogs. They remind me of the lives of quite a few people I have known.

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Venice and Hemingway

I was watching a documentary on Venice with great pleasure. Venice always reminds me of the happy days I spent there with my wife Francesca. When we lived in Rome, whenever she felt in a bad mood she would propose going to Venice for a few days. We would stay in the cosiest hotel in the world, The Danieli. Francesca loved this hotel because, as an elegant and good looking Princess, its directors and staff treated her with special regard, as if a guest rather than a client. Francesca was so popular with the staff at the Danieli, that they started addressing me as `Signor Principe', which forced me to increase my tips to an aristocratic level. Italians love giving titles to people they meet. Bestowing titles makes them feel important. When I came to London, I used to go to the Italian Pizzeria in Chelsea Farmer's Market. At first the waiters called me `Signor Dottore'. When they saw me in the company of some pretty ladies, they elevated the title to `Signor Professore.' When, one day, I came with an Italian actress, they started calling me `Signor Maestro'. Francesca loved Venice because of its beauty. She insisted that Venice's beauty was able to reduce whatever caused a bad mood, into a triviality. She used to say that it was `vulgar' or `common' to be gloomy in Venice. The thought of Venice often reminds me of the last time we were there, when we met Ernest Hemingway, who was staying in the same hotel. He was a great friend of Francesca. We spent a couple of evenings together. In order to please him, and to please myself, I told him that I was particularly proud when, in 1955, my novel, `Prisioneros De La Vida', was published, in a series together with his book `Las Nieves del Kilimanjaro', by the Spanish publisher, De Caralt. He explained to me that he was particularly fond of Italy as it had helped him to change. During the First World War, he had

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fought with the Italian Army against the Austrians and been wounded. He said that being wounded as a young man was the best thing to have happened to him. It showed him his vulnerability and mortality. It had made him more mature, reducing his euphoric exuberance. He had spent some time in Italian hospitals where he experienced the compassion of the Italians. This helped to reduce his adolescent American self-centredness, which helped him to become more aware of others, to replace his monologues with conversations. He explained that it made him start to listen. Above all, the compassion he discovered in Italy helped him to put heart into his writing. He also said that in his youth he had cultivated a pugilistic mentality, but his wounds had softened this attitude, recovery taught him patience. "I am sure that patience was invented by patients," I interrupted, but he didn't notice. He said he went on to cultivate patience by developing a passion for sport that most requires it, that of fishing. It helped him discover time, and pauses, the most enjoyable of moments, as they allow us to notice and communicate with life. A few years later he killed himself. He was sixty-seven, facing the best years in which to enjoy his literary and financial success. Like many others, I asked myself what could have induced him to kill himself. Success often isolates the successful, increasing his or her emptiness, loneliness and misery. Having reached a peak, the abyss is not far away and becomes enticing. On the other hand, some people think his suicide was somehow hereditary, as other members of his family had also killed themselves. I doubt it, as there is no such thing as suicide in Nature, only in our species. We are ruled mainly by our minds, which are more acquired than inherited. A lot of suicides are disappointed, offended or ashamed by life, which makes them hate life. In fact many give the impres- 142 -

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sion that they are killing life, out of vindictiveness, because it did not allow them to realise their mind's expectations or dreams. The grander are our expectations or dreams, the greater is the possibility of their derision by life, by reality. The year after Hemingway's death I met his widow, Mary Welsh. She had supported him through his last years, during which his alcoholism, violence, depression and withdrawal drew him towards his final act. Talking to Mary brought out a different picture concerning his death. I discovered that the most important influence in Hemingway's life was the period he spent in France after WW1, a period dominated by Surrealism, and its tendency to escape reality through drugs and alcohol. Hemingway joined the other American intellectuals living in Paris, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, Ford Maddox Ford, Gertrude Stein, who called their group `The lost generation'. By subverting expectations, or preconceived notions, concerning life and the arts, Surrealism became a mortifying cult of shock, confusion and scandal mongering, opening the way to black humour. It was at this time when Hemingway was in Paris, that André Breton, the leading member of the Surrealist movement, announced his famous `Anthology of Black Humour'. Black Humour is made up of absurdities aiming at disintegrating, distorting and destroying reality beyond repair, which finds in killing, the supreme excitement. In 1936, Hemingway was obviously deeply under the influence of black humour when he said, in an article he wrote for the American periodical Esquire, that once a man has experienced the excitement of the hunt of other fully armed men, he will never be interested in any other pleasure. His obsession for the excitement of the kill is obvious from his passion for safaris, bullfighting and his enthusiastic participation in the bloody Spanish Civil War. In June 1944, Hemingway was serving in the US Army in France, as an intelligence officer interviewing German prisoners

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of war. He wrote a letter to Mary, which contained the following lines, "Here life is thrilling and amusing...plenty of dead." In a letter to a friend, a professor at Cornel University, Hemingway shows his passion for killing when, in charge of a prisoners of war camps, he writes: "I have made accounts with great precision and I can say with accuracy to have killed 122 prisoners." Hemingway's book `The Old Man and the Sea' can best be understood as a masterpiece of Black Humour. By limiting or eliminating the vibrancy of real life, the Surrealists' abstract fixed ideas, stubborn opinions or rigid beliefs create boredom, which can easily lead to the destruction of life, self-destruction, and killing and suicide.

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Behind Language

Some time ago I made a note in my diary to write, into my next book, a chapter on two human languages, the language inspired by the reasoning brain and that inspired by the emotional mind. Original vocalisation must have been sounds provoked by a need to attract or repel, fight or flee, the most basic conditioned reflexes of the reasoning brain, powered by emotion. Once the mind started creating its abstract ideas, we developed the need to exteriorise them, to materialise them by putting a sound to them, thus we began to increase the range of noises to express these ideas. In fact, the more fertile the mind, the more emotions it generates, the more energy it has to express itself, the more loquacious it becomes, the less the rational brain is used. Charlatans and chatterers, as well as many politicians, mostly use their emotional minds in their conversations. When I was staying at Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia's house in Chelsea, I met many members of British and European royal families. I noticed that royalty, with generations of caution over the spoken (and reported) word, tend to use more of their rational brains and thus are inclined to be more succinct and concise in expressing themselves, which can best be achieved with a laconic style, created by a reasoning brain, our intelligence. `Intelligenti, pauca' was a proverb used in Ancient Rome, meaning intelligent people need few words. They also encouraged a person to speak by giving the impression they were deeply interested in hearing what the other has to say. It is second nature to them to listen attentively and not to express anything inappropriate. Queen Elizabeth II of England is a masterful listener, with great wit and humour. A laconic conversational style can be found in other human groups, shamans or sages, competent workers or talented

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artisans. A notable difference between the language inspired by the mind and that inspired by the brain, is that the former is louder, more agitated, and faster than the latter. The following is an example of the laconic style of language, by a British Royal: One day Princess Alexandra of Kent and Professor Thrumble Higgins came to lunch with Elizabeth of Yugoslavia and myself at 215 King's Road. Thrumble was an American Professor of Military Strategy, and an adviser to President Kennedy. I had often teased him about the appalling strategy of the Americans at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba. His response being that John Kennedy was too busy with his tactics for pretty ladies. After Elizabeth's usual vague and informal introductions, we sat down to lunch. Thrumble dominated the conversation with his explanation of the Phoenician leader Hannibal's military strategy in Italy, around the third century BC. Princess Alexandra seemed genuinely interested. When she rose to leave, Thrumble apologised to her for monopolising the conversation. "I never even asked you what you did." Without batting an eyelid, Princess Alexandra smiled and said, "Oh, nothing much, I just open and close events." When later the Professor asked me what she had meant and I explained that she was Princess Alexandra of Kent, he was mortified, begging for secrecy, beseeching me not to tell anyone. "I am going to New York quite soon," I teased him, "and I can't wait to tell everyone about your Royal Gaff." I also knew that he would be delighted if I did. This next episode could be taken as an example of the laconic versus emotional language Princess Elizabeth's father, Prince Paul of Yugoslavia, was the Head of State of Yugoslavia during the infancy of King Peter in the years preceding WWII. He was an Oxford graduate and could speak five languages fluently, yet he would converse in few

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words and short sentences with a calm pondering manner. The Serbian Government signed an agreement with Germany in 1941, allowing the German Army passage through Yugoslavia, in the hope of preventing an invasion by Germany. The Serbian people, guided by highly emotional minds, blamed the laconic Prince Paul, accusing him of sympathising with Nazi Germany. It never occurred to them that a cosmopolitan person, speaking several languages fluently, could not be part of an extreme ideology and they misunderstood his position and intentions. They rebelled and sent him into exile. In reacting without understanding, they ensured the aggressive Nazi occupation of Yugoslavia. This episode also stands as an example of the machinations of historians. Today (2007), if you skim through newspaper clippings, history books, the internet and even `official' documents, you will find more descriptions of the events of 1941 in the language of ideological or political expediency, than you will find explanations based on reality and fact.

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Betty Friedan

I read in the papers that Betty Friedan died yesterday, 4th February 2006, her 85th birthday. With the book `The Feminine Mystique', published in 1963, she became known around the world as `The Pioneer of Feminism'. Her book started a new era in women's liberation movements. It exposed the problem modern women faced, "the problem that has no name," as she loved to say. In spite of her great success and popularity through the book, Betty soon became disappointed and saddened by the radical and extreme ideas of the new feminist movements it influenced, which she had neither intended nor foreseen. It created hostility towards man, marriage, and above all towards the main pillar of Betty's society, the family. She always regretted having been the inspiration behind movements that discouraged, rather than enhanced, harmony between men and women. She insisted that by searching for equality between men and women, radical feminist movements could only consolidate a man's world, a life invented and organised by men around their values and shortcomings. She stressed that, by imitating men, women would increase their anxiety, misery, depression, alcoholism, suicides, a need for shrinks and exacerbate the disintegration of the family. She seems to have been proven right. I have seen many cursed by the vindictiveness of success. The greater expectations of the successful can lead to crippling discontent. I first met Betty in 1977 at a party given by Doubleday, my publisher, in New York for my book `Man: The Fallen Ape'. We became friends and I spent many weekends in her villa on Long Island, a meeting place of the `American Intelligentsia'. I was her escort at the 60th anniversary ball given by the

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The Author with Betty Freidan, on the road between Oxford and Cambridge.

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Pulitzer Prize Association, when this goddess of feminism surprised the many guests, and the media, by dancing the night away with the agility and exuberance of a teenager. Towards the end of the 1980's we spent many hours discussing the problems of old age, for the book she was writing on the subject. `The Fountain of Age', was published in 1993. In this book, she accused the tendency by experts, to advise people as they got older, to `take it easy' and restrain their activities and creativity. She, on the other hand, advised them to continue their professional, sentimental and sexual lives as before. I told her that she was wrong to advise this. Our species tends to exaggerate all our activities from the beginning of our lives. To continue doing this on into old age can be unhealthy and pathetic. The best example of this, I explained, is in our sexual obsession. She was not amused. When she was un-amused she became irritated, which could make her harsh and offensive. However, I used to ignore her abrasive reactions because she was one of the most generous and kindest people I have met.

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Croissants and Camus

Sitting in the Picasso Café in the King's Road, dipping pieces of croissant in my cappuccino made me think of one of my most curious meetings. When I was living in Paris, I often used to go to the Café de Flore, when it was the meeting place of many French artists and authors. One day, as I was rather intensely doubled over savouring my dunked croissant, Albert Camus, the French writer, whom I only knew by sight until then, stopped and pulled up a chair at my table. He told me that he had seldom seen anyone eat with such reverence. He said he has often watched me `dancing with my croissant'. I remember being embarrassed, especially when he added, "Only those who have experienced hunger and poverty behave like this." I relaxed as I realised that he, as an author, was not being rude, but an observer, an explorer of humans and their behaviour. "In order to notice that," I had smiled, "you must have experienced the same." "True," he had smiled back. "It is easy to sense those who have starved. Once you have been hungry, especially in childhood, it marks you for the rest of your life. Those who suffer hunger as a child, develop a great respect for food and life. They prolong eating and develop an awareness of living which enriches their lives. As a child in Algeria I grew up in real poverty. It is part of me and I am happy whenever I am reminded of this experience, as it reasserts my pleasure in enjoying the small things in life, those little things that make life pleasant." I remember remarking on the particularly strong after-shave he was wearing. He told me, proudly, that it was unavailable in France, that a friend regularly sent it to him from Algiers. I also remember wondering if the pungent after-shave lotion

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reminded him of his childhood hunger, and he wore it so as not to become spoiled by success. Perhaps it was his humbleness that infuriated Sartre, de Beauvoir and the rest of the left-wing Parisians that dominated the cultural life of the city in those days. I also wondered if it was this humility that had driven him to develop his great talent. His clear style of writing and acute sense of observation was streets ahead of other authors. Humbleness inspires tenderness, tenderness inspires humaneness, and humaneness inspires a love of humanity, which was Camus' main love. In response to the serious hostility of the literary establishment towards him, headed by Sartre and de Beauvoir, he said that they hated him because he was genuine and that genuine people irritate the fake. These were bourgeois people who used Communism to further their careers, which was laughable because they had no idea what it was to be poor or starving. One day I asked Camus why most Frenchmen kept a cigarette permanently dangling from the corner of their mouth. He explained that they probably thought it made them look more macho. "French men are often cuckolds, and the unshaved look coupled with their appending `Gauloise' gives them an air of toughness, which covers up their feeling of precariousness. Most French feel precarious because of their excessive sense of self-importance."

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Changing Rooms

As I waited for a bus outside a furniture shop in King's Road, Chelsea, I was suddenly reminded of Tatiana, a Russian refugee in Italy from the First World War. In 1956, I was helping the World Council of Churches in Rome to integrate the elderly refugees, who had difficulties emigrating because of their age, into the Italian economy. One day Tatiana came to my office to discuss her situation in Italy. She was a vivacious and witty lady of 78, but gave the impression of being much younger. She taught me a lasting lesson. When I asked her how she managed to keep so young, she answered joyfully: "Changes...boredom ages one and I try to avoid it by changing things around me...When I was young I changed lovers, then I changed clothes and haircuts...now, living in poverty and in a studio flat, I change the position of the pictures on my walls, and I move the few pieces of furniture around in it...Changes revitalise you." As with other elderly ladies, I managed to settle her. With the help provided by the International Social Services, the World Council of Churches and the Italian Red Cross, I had enough money for the rent of a flat for a year and some furniture, with rooms she could sublet. Tatiana's idea about `changes' was very useful to me. Whenever any of my wives, or girlfriends of the moment, started moving the furniture or paintings around, I used to take them for a holiday, to save the relationship. Since I met Tatiana, I have, from time to time, thought of the way she explained that, when she was young, she tried to alleviate her boredom by changing lovers. I wondered why many people become more sexually alive when bored? Might it be that boredom raises a spectre of frightening loneliness, which craves

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physical contact, a warming caress, a need for togetherness? This idea usually leads me to the summer of 1946. I was a student in Paris and I decided to spend a summer holiday in Monte Carlo, trying to earn some money by working in the restaurants. A Serbian friend of mine, who was working in the Monte Carlo Casino, provided me with a pass to visit the `Salon Privé', where rich gamblers played `Chemin de Fer'. He gave me the pass mainly because part of the `Salon Privé was a special bar, with free drinks and food. Many of the gamblers were rich Italian, French, English and Arabs. They used to come to Monte Carlo just to gamble. They were usually accompanied by young secretaries, models or air hostesses. While their men were passionately involved in the game, they would sit, lonely and bored, in the bar. I would sit in the same bar and with an eloquent movement of eyes, invite one of the girls to come out for a walk. Once outside, we would sit on a bench in the garden in front of the Casino, in cosy togetherness, often not talking at all. On returning to the bar of the `Salon Privé, she would glance at her man at the gambling table, absorbed in his game.

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Ebrahim the Pharmacist

Ebrahim's pharmacy in the King's Road is the centre of a little universe within Chelsea. I visit Ebrahim on a regular basis because he is a friend. He has the profound wisdom of the East, which complements his professional training in Western medicine. Above all, I admired the humaneness with which he deals with his customers, a common quality amongst good pharmacists. I first noticed this in France, where shop assistants are usually very brusque, whilst people working in chemist shops are surprisingly kind and considerate. When I mentioned this to Ebrahim he said: "People who visit a Pharmacy are suffering. Their requests, or prescriptions, can reveal very intimate or embarrassing conditions - in many respects they are stripped bare in quite a public place. I am a compassionate person, but, in order to deal with them as I should, I have to temper compassion with a particular sensitivity, and that takes tact and time." His special patience was demonstrated as an elderly lady came in and kept on asking why his recommended sleeping pills stopped working at 5 o'clock in the morning! When I was working on my book, `Matriarchy in Post Capitalism' I asked him if there was a difference between his male and female customers. He smiled and said: "Whatever the apostles of equality may say, there is a big difference. Women are more open and more honest about their problems, maybe because they have to deal with their physiology from an early age. Their common sense tells them that in order to get better they have to reveal all. Men, on the other hand, try to protect their egos and hide their vulnerability. Nothing threatens a man's ego more than an illness or physical disorder, particularly of a sexual nature..." he paused

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and smiled "...and I still sell more Aspirins than there are headaches!" On another occasion, Ebrahim explained how the culture of the West, based on monetary value, makes people trust expensive branded drugs more than identical, but cheaper, unbranded ones. Not only that, but the more expensive they are, the brighter the packaging and contents, the bigger the pills, the more efficacious they appear to be, which makes no sense until you consider the placebo effect. He used to give his free samples away, until he discovered that his customers distrusted them so much they binned them, only to buy similar medicines from another chemist shop. Such is the influence of Western Capitalism on us! He also told me how the exploitive nature of life in the West has created a massive market for revitalising drugs, like the use of Viagra amongst elderly men. Western culture insists it is both desirable and possible to live forever, and not just live, but to retain physical youth. This is not just desperately unrealistic; it shows a deep lack of an appreciation of ageing. "In India, for instance, most people achieve a serene and dignified contentment in old age," Ebrahim said. It was also interesting to watch how the different nationalities behaved in the pharmacy. Most of the British who came in would listen quietly to Ebrahim's explanation about how to use the medicines they were taking. Italians would become even more voluble than they usually are. Americans, particularly the women, would increase their accent, as if this would get them a better service. The French would ask what side effects the drugs might have on their digestion. Arabs, mainly men, would demand immediate attention, even cutting in on Ebrahim's conversation with another customer. Indian ladies bargained the price of everything, even prescription drugs. However, there is one thing common to most of those who came in feeling ill. They entered hunched up, worried and uncertain, and left, salve in hand, head held higher, reassured

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and more self-confident. One day I asked Ebrahim to explain the power of placebos, drugs improving health without any real curative properties, drugs which are only effective on humans. "Trust," was his answer. "When you trust a medicine, you relax. Relaxing eliminates tension, allowing the body to repair itself. The art of a pharmacist is his ability to be convincing when recommending and dispensing drugs." Ebrahim was limping recently, having hurt his leg in a fall. His customers reacted in different ways. Many with sympathetic smiles, as if to say, "at last, you know how I feel and will be even more helpful in the future." Some appeared amused, "even the great physician can fall foul of injury," and others looked slightly worried "maybe he can't help me as much, now he too is vulnerable," but most appeared to appreciate that, for once, they were able to offer him the same kind of compassion as he had so often shown them. Over all, the incident seems to have brought all closer together, in shared generosity or vulnerability.

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Refugee Camps WWII

To day, outside Chelsea Town Hall, I met a Serbian friend of mine who told me that he had been to see social services on some matter or another. It reminded me of a story, with an ironic twist, that I heard when I first moved to London. At the end of WWII many Serbs, who had been German prisoners of war, became refugees in the British occupied area of Germany. Unwilling or unable to return to a Communist Yugoslavia under Tito, they remained in their former prisons, which were turned into refugee camps. The British, needing agricultural workers, allowed those aged under 35 years old to emigrate to the United Kingdom. Amongst these immigrants were many over 35 year olds who lied about their age. The British accepted their statements, there being no papers to prove or disprove them and this apparent naivety on the part of the British caused quite a lot of derision. However, the laugh was on them when, some years down the line, they reached retirement age and could not get a pension until they reached the right age according to their papers, issued upon a lie, by the British in Germany, a clear example of the adage `one reaps as one sows'. That story reminds me of the time I worked for the World Council of Churches in Rome. It was my job to visit refugee camps in Italy, populated by many different nationalities, of all ages, professions and backgrounds, many of whom, as I mentioned, would not return home because their country of origin had been taken over by Communism. I enjoyed the many visits I made to these camps for several reasons. I found them anthropologically fascinating, and my visits inspired me to write a novel, `Prisoners of Life' based on the life in the camps, and the people I met. I found out from the refugees in the camps the many ways

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that deeply traumatised individuals dealt with losing their former lives, families, homes, their countries of origin and with having very limited options of where else they could go. A heightened existential fear was their common companion and paranoia ruled their behaviour. The fear they had lived with during the war years, transformed into a fear of living. They were plagued by the idea that everyone was a Communist spy, the local policeman, the priest, even me. It was a fact that there were spies in the camps trying to identify any potentially organised anti-Communist group, but most of these poor people were hardly their targets, yet they were desperately suspicious of everyone and fearful for those they had left behind. Italy was desperate to get rid of them; it could not sustain the numbers. If they could not be repatriated they had to be encouraged and assisted to go to other countries. Those that could, the young and able, emigrated to the first country that offered them a visa and some security. Others went, illegally, to France and found work in the building industry where they were tolerated because they were cheap labour. Out of those that stayed, some were part of a group which particularly interested me, those suffering from `Camp Syndrome'. These were the ultimate prisoners of war, the ones who would never leave the refugee camps. Mainly middle-aged, they could no longer imagine any future for themselves. Having lost their roots, they became rooted to the camp and the present moment. In the camps they were safe, protected by the International Refugee Organisation, sponsored by the United Nations. Threatened with the possibility of re-settlement outside the camp, they would even manage to develop `adaptation diseases', like heart or joint problems, to justify their passive existence and their `right' to remain protected and cared for, for the rest of their lives.

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A Romanian refugee, a professor called Popescu, once told me: "Here, in the camp, I feel dignified. I am free. I have guaranteed accommodation and three meals a day. I feel secure and I don't have to worry about the imponderables of life, here I have no uncertainty." I noticed that Popescu's watch was an hour fast. When I pointed this out to him he answered: "I haven't changed the time since my mother gave it to me in Bucharest...it is my only souvenir of the past, the good old days." He made a conscious decision to stay in the camp and never left, despite being offered a home elsewhere in Italy. I wondered if this was because it would mean he would have to change the time on his watch, and lose that last, evocative memory of his mother's love. On the other hand, Jovan, a former football trainer from Montenegro, about the same age as Popescu, had a far more depressive attitude. He told me he had no intention of leaving the camp because, at his age, he had no enthusiasm for life outside and had nothing to offer except complaints, which no-one wanted to hear. Another reason for enjoying the visit to Capua Refugee Camp was its proximity to Capri, where I used to go after visiting the camp, in order to see my friends living another kind of existence. Capri, at that time, was the centre of the international jet set, which was dominated by Prince Alexandro `Dado' Ruspoli. He was a young, rich, generous, good looking Italian aristocrat in his 30s, who worshipped and lived for beauty. He loved to hate and to shock what he called, `cancerous mediocrity'. "I despise mediocrity because it is vulgar, vulgarity is disgusting because it is ugly, ugliness murders harmony, which is an essential quality of beauty," was one of his typical remarks. I met him many times. I was a good friend of his cousin Francesca, who later became my wife. He was also a friend of another friend of mine who lived in Capri, Curzio Malaparte. Dado was called `The Emperor of Capri'. He used to colour his hair yellow, violet and green and walked, or rode a donkey,

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through the streets of Capri, with a parrot on his shoulder, which was constantly screaming "Viva la Vita!" Needless to say when these eccentricities were copied and became too common place, he would cease them in favour of new accoutrements. From time to time, he would become philosophical. For instance, he proposed that life was a sequence of small deaths which lead to new and better lives. One of his most intriguing ideas was the reason for his intense dislike of the French. He said this was because they were the first to legalise vulgarity, rudeness and violence by establishing the idea that anyone had a right to individual freedom. Since, in his opinion, individual freedom generated such awful ugliness, that it should only have been granted to those with good taste and good manners. Ironically, his first wife, who committed suicide, was French. He was upset by the great changes he saw taking place in his beloved Italy. It annoyed him to see the economic boom of the late 50's turn Italians into "neurotic and noisy monkeys aping Americans"... "In fact, when I have had enough of my fellow countrymen, I have to go and stay in an English village for a while in order to rebuild my patience." Dado's eccentricities, although regularly rep o rted in the press, never acquired the status of `scandalo' in the eyes of the Italians. His antics amused them. Oppressed, as they are, by the Catholic Church and their mothers-in-law, Italians love being amused and consider eccentrics liberated and spontaneous, qualities they approve of, but seldom emulate. They were amused when it was reported in the press that Dado had been caught with some cocaine in his possession and even more so by his statement "It's for my personal use, I have it for breakfast." Most of all, they were delighted by the caricature of Dado, which appeared in a satirical newspaper, depicting him giving Holy Communion to the Pope in St. Peter's (a centuries old honour bestowed on the Ruspoli family) with a dose of cocaine instead of a wafer.

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These visits, from camps to Capri, gave me the opportunity to compare the lives of the refugees with that of the jetsetters. It occurred to me that if life consists of the mundane interrupted by sporadic moments of pleasure, then their lives were not so different. On the one hand, one had the refugee, escaping from boredom and suffering by creating a world within a cage full of paranoia and melancholy, and on the other the jetsetter, escaping from his boredom with excessive infantile exuberance. I was also saddened by both situations. The jetsetters, with all their wealth and security, spent their time playing frivolous and childish games, whilst the refugees had been brought to their plight by the sheer nastiness of others, a `virtue' unique to Homo sapiens sapiens. I once asked Dado his opinion about what went wrong with our species. "We base our concept of evolution on brutality," he replied, suggesting it is an essential quality of the fittest. "However, if we favoured nobility above brutishness, then we would be in better shape. Now, even the aristocracy of Europe, who once cultivated and valued nobility above all, have succumbed to the ignoble ideals of so called `modernity and progress'." It was on one of my boat trips crossing the stunningly beautiful Bay of Naples, with enchanting Capri behind and majestic Vesuvius ahead, surrounded by my fellow passengers, most of whom, despite the amazing view, appeared tense and worried, that I developed my theory about the meaning of life.

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The Meaning of Life

Life seems to be a precarious state of existence, originally imposed on some inorganic molecules by temperate conditions in a constant state of flux or fluidity, on our planet. This precarious state of existence carries with it irritation and discomfort. The tendency of irritation and discomfort is to try to realise lesser irritation and better comfort, through changes and growth. An illustration of this can best be seen in the influence of oxygen. Oxygen is toxic, and an irritant. When oxygen levels are high, there is an increase in the growth, diversity and complexity of forms of life. Oxygen dependent organisms, in fact, tend to create breathing or respiration to limit or regulate oxygen intake, as an excessive intake of oxygen can seriously damage an organism. With the development of the mind, we hoped to reduce the fear of life, by creating fantasies. Most creations of the mind are attempts to alleviate the strain and suffering caused by our existential fears. Wishful beliefs, myths and religions, prayer, meditation, illusions, entertainment, distractions, narcotic drugs, obsessions and addictions - all contrived or developed to help us escape from the fear of life, by escaping from reality, from life. In order to sustain these avenues of escape, we practise lying, self-deception and deviousness, all of which, ironically, increase our stress, tension and anxiety and reduce our rationality and intelligence. Our mind is a master of `selective ignorance', which helps it avoid the acknowledgment of anything that is contrary to its wishful beliefs or prejudices. `Selective ignorance' is also the mind's defence against a major threat to its illusionary world, that of being derided or embarrassed by real life.

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Governed by our mind, we would kill to escape reality. Life terrorises us, and the terrorised become terrorists, killing life, even one's own, to avoid its consequences. We are beginning to realise that, contrary to our professed concern for the life of our planet, we are systematically killing it, in all its forms, at an accelerating rate, almost with relish, rushing towards the nirvana of annihilation. In fact, for many, killing is an exciting game. A prominent factor in this battle between the mind's world and reality is boredom. It is a major source of our discontent, crime and depression. Boredom, a life without distracting excitement, threatens us with reality. When all our pretentious paraphernalia cannot appease or distract us, what is left? The development of the mind generated a massive change in our mental activity. Until the appearance of the mind, our mental activity was like that of any other animal with a central nervous system, ruled by innate or acquired intelligence. With the appearance of the mind, our mental activity became an acrobatic conflict between the mind's beliefs and our intelligence. With the appearance of the mind we developed various forms of schizophrenia, in which the mind's world of beliefs and the world of intelligence coexist, but in conflict. With the appearance of the mind, came wishful beliefs. These formed into religions, which in turn brought forth hatred, intolerance, fanaticism, and wars, all in support of faiths, which are based on irrational hopes. It is evident that our natural intelligence, being less aggressive than the mind's wishful beliefs, has not progressed much since the development of the mind. Evidence of this, for example, can be found in the fact that we cling to certain lessons from the Bible and discard others. Biblical stories were written by people who had little knowl- 164 -

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edge of the physical make-up of the universe. These stories were told in order to reduce the uncertainty and fears of people more than 20 centuries ago. They created a power base for those who came up with the most appealing stories, stories attached to fearful retribution for anyone failing to follow the faith. Despite the fact that many myths and legends, upon which religions were formed so many centuries ago, have been disproved or indeed forgotten, we still persist in granting the establishments, upon which these were founded, great power over our lives. As examples of this, I list a number of biblical beliefs (similar themes run through most religions), which, despite being archaic and absurd, actively suppressed our rationality, common sense and intelligence. There are millions of people, calling themselves `Creationists', who even today believe the biblical interpretation of the creation of the world, known as God's `Intelligent design', is the only correct one. They do not appreciate that `intelligence' and `design' contradict each other. The rigidity of design frustrates and limits intelligence, which has to be free from restraints or patterns, which are inherent in design. God's `Intelligent design' cannot be part of intelligence, as intelligence is based on verified knowledge. That God's `Intelligent design' is not that astute is evident because it created man, who pollutes and destroys his own habitat along with the habitats of all other animals, who are also supposed to be part of God's `Intelligent design'. Equally, God's `Intelligent design' does not exhibit great intelligence as it considered, and still considers, woman inferior to man. We are told that God is all powerful, the creator of all, and that He is perfect. If He were perfect why would He create anything? Perfection would have no desires or needs, and in fact, would be passive and sterile. The Bible tells us that God can be angry, vindictive, cruel

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and violent. A perfect being would have no emotions, especially negative ones. Many have adopted the idea that they are the `Children of God'. Yet these self proclaimed children of a perfect being are responsible for some of the most terrible atrocities perpetrated in the arrogant and aggressive colonisation of land occupied by others, who according to the Bible are also His creations, therefore also His children. The Bible tells us that, in essence, we are free to believe or not to believe in the Almighty God. In reality, we believe in the Almighty God because we are frightened not to believe in Him. Living with this fear reduces our rationality and intelligence, which pushes us towards beliefs. Christian religion teaches us to believe in Original Sin. We are told we are all born with this sin. However, if we are born so sinful, then it stands to reason that it would have pleased our God if we were never born at all. It is logical to presume that God does not like sinners. If God does not like sinners, then it should be the greatest sin of all to procreate sinners. Why did the forefathers of the Christian religion consider eating the fruit of knowledge as such a terrible sin? The answer is because knowledge improves our intelligence and rational reasoning, which are the enemies of our minds' fantasies and wishful beliefs, including religious beliefs. In fact, Christians who today believe that knowledge is a sin, have not increased in intelligence since the invention of Original Sin. We are told, in the Gospels, that Christ fed many people with only five loaves of bread and two fishes. If Christ was able to do this, he should have continued to do this miracle everyday. In fact, if he had continued to feed the poor, he would never have been crucified. During a wedding in the village of Cana, in Galilee, when Jesus was invited as a guest, the wine ran out. Jesus performed a miracle transforming water into wine. Jesus should have known that there is nothing more vulgar or more violent and degrading than the behaviour of poor people when they get drunk. Jesus

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must have known that drinking wine was not an intelligent thing to do. He could have read in the Old Testament that, "Wine is a mocker, and that strong wine makes you rage." We have been taught by the Christian religion that God sacrificed his only son out of love for humanity. A more rational reasoning would conclude that gods or humans, who sacrifice their children for the love of humanity, cannot love humanity. They cannot love humanity because they cannot love. They cannot love because they have no pity or compassion, which are the pillars of love. In fact many of the major crimes of history have been committed out of a `love of humanity'. Most people know about Christ's good deeds, especially his curing of invalids and most notably, in this respect, his spectacular revival of Lazarus. We never ask what happened to these people after Jesus' miraculous performances. It is possible that, having been resuscitated by Jesus, Lazarus might have led a thoroughly miserable life. What is more, he would have had to face death for a second time. However, what is really comic is the fact that if Lazarus was such a good person as to deserve resurrection, then whilst dead he must have been in Heaven, enjoying his afterlife. If this was the case, Jesus hardly did Lazarus a great service by wrenching him back from his happy life in Heaven to a life of hell on earth. We never ask, and the Gospels do not explain, if the cripples whom Jesus cured, were grateful to him; they would, after all, have had to face a difficult life as normal people. They could no longer continue to live on the pity and charity that their disabilities had afforded them. One might ask what is so wrong in believing in Christ's miracles. Believing in miracles allows our mind to believe in any other absurdity; it stimulates fantasies and wishful dreams. In fact, today, even in this era of science, there is a significant miracle taking place, that of masses of people still believing in miracles.

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Believing in miracles perpetuates our childlike mentality, prevents us becoming responsible and serious and prevents us reaching maturity. Believing in miracles allows people to become easy victims of cheats, charlatans or politicians. Italy, for instance, where a belief in miracles is the staple diet, is also the country in which cheats, charlatans and eloquent politicians, are the most successful. One of this Christian God's most curious acts was his eviction from Eden of all other creatures, which were living in harmony, along with Adam and Eve. "Every young man, who listens to me, and obeys my instructions will be given wisdom and good sense," stresses the biblical God. Obeying instructions consolidates and perpetuates the infantile mentality, which is unable to reach wisdom and good sense. Wisdom and good sense are achieved through maturity, which is seldom recommended in our religious instruction. We are indoctrinated into believing that our God is a loving God. Reading the Bible we discover instead, that He is desperate for our love and our worship. "In everything you do, put God first," we read in Proverbs. This implies that our God is insecure and dependent on our love and worship. In insecurity and dependence, God and man (who was made in God's image and likeness) are unable to love anyone but themselves. A loving God is, by definition, a caring God and a caring God is seldom a punishing God. A God who loves should be forgiving, and the God of the Bible is more punishing than forgiving. This God is able to hate, to persecute and to kill those who do not love or obey him. Throughout the Bible, God speaks to his people. In which language did God address his people? We all know that we learn our mother language from our mothers and from our peers. God had no mother and no peers. The Bible offers the idea of redemption. We are told that God will redeem us when we sink to the lowest possible levels. This idea can inspire many people to try to sink to those levels as

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soon as possible, in order to reach the kingdom of God. Our religion teaches us that "blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the Children of God." Transforming the peacemakers into the children of God puts an end to peace, as children in general, and children of God in particular, are poor peacekeepers. Throughout history Jews were accused by Christians of having contributed towards the death of Christ. Christians should be grateful to Jews, as without the crucifixion and resurrection, Christianity would have been far less successful. Could it not, instead, have been Christ, with his friend Judas and other faithful followers, who organised his own death and his own resurrection, in order to build Christianity? This interpretation would be very much in tune with the deviousness that Christian leaders have shown throughout history. Christianity, by consolidating the wishful beliefs of our mind, confuses our rational reasoning and intelligence in a particularly damaging way. Christianity helps man to idealise himself, to flatter himself, which his intelligence was not able to do. Idealising himself, man likes to try to create his own world around his own image, an infantile world of fantasies, in which he is feared and obeyed, in which he is a super man, a demigod, or even an almighty god. This unique human hubris makes man the only pathetic and laughable species.

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Gianni Agnelli

Today I read of the death of Gianni Agnelli, in my Italian newspaper. I remember him as the playboy son of the owner of the Fiat Empire. It was in the late 1940s and early 1950s, when Bruno Quirinetta's orchestra was so popular at the nightclub `La Capannina,' in Forte dei Marmi, the meeting place of the Italian `jeunesse dorée'. He was good fun to be with, but had a habit of apologetically pulling out a very large banknote to pay for his share of the drinks. The note usually went back into his pocket as I, or someone else, paid with smaller notes. One day I got fed up with this and asked to see the note. He handed it over and I wrote down the serial number and, looking him in the eye, gave it back. He never pulled that trick with me again. Many people who knew him then, asked themselves what it was that made Gianni change from a jovial and care free young man, into such a serious and highly respected businessman, who did more than any other Italian for the international reputation of Italy and its industries. Some years ago, I spent Christmas Day with him and his family in New York. In a quiet moment, I asked him what he thought was the essence of his success. After thanking me for the compliment, he explained that the art of success in business consisted of choosing good collaborators. "In order to be able to find, appreciate and employ intelligent and valuable people, you need to noticeably reduce your own personal ego. The stronger a man's ego, the more he is inclined to choose his collaborators among flatterers, a dangerous element, particularly in industry. Success is like a circle," he went on. "Once you are successful in your business, you become more relaxed, which helps you to succeed in other fields of life, which helps to succeed more in business." Hearing this, I thought of two other highly successful busi- 170 -

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nessmen, Michel David-Weil of Lazard Frères Banque and John Loudon, then Chairman of Shell. All three of these men had great charm, humbleness and the warmth of understanding. All of them chose their collaborators carefully from highly talented people. All three men had another interesting thing in common. They had all married women of aristocratic blood. Perhaps, in creating a more serene atmosphere at home, these women helped their husband to achieve their own serenity, which reduced the inflation of their egos. As aristocratic women have no need to be socially ambitious, they can afford to relax. Many men's lives and careers had been ruined by the social climbing of their wives.

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Paul Gallico

On the television tonight I noticed that the BBC was showing the film `The Poseidon Adventure' and my thoughts went back to Paul Gallico, on whose book the script for the film was based. Paul spent the last years of his life in an ancient house built on the rampart of Antibes, which faced the Alpes Maritimes and the morning sunrise coming from Italy. I used to see Paul from time to time, during my summer months in Antibes harbour, when we'd stroll around the harbour looking at the boats. He was a recluse, as with old age his shyness had increased. I remember asking him why, as a writer, he did not miss socialising. He told me that he got to know as many people as he needed. His wife was a public relations' aide to Prince Rainier, and every evening would describe her day in Monaco to him and who she had met, "I then see them in my fantasy and place them where my fantasy needs them," he had answered. When I asked Paul the secret of his success as an author, particularly of `The Poseidon Adventure', he had answered with one word, "Challenge... In the first few pages I always confront all my characters with a challenge of some kind. By raising excitement in them I hope to do the same for my readers. During my athletic life and when I was sports editor of the New York Daily News, I experienced the excitement of challenge, competition and race. Don't forget that I am a New Yorker, and a New Yorker's life is a constant adventure." I wondered if this was why he had decided to spend his old age in the tranquillity of Antibes. Adventurous fantasies can become even more fertile in peaceful surroundings.

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Lady Fellows

Today I received a postcard from Diana, an old friend of mine, depicting her villa in Cap d'Antibes in the South of France, inviting me to stay with her. I hardly ever see her in London, but whenever she goes to the South of France for the summer, she invites me to come over and stay. There are certain places which alter the mentality of their visitors. One of these places is the French Riviera, which runs from Menton to Cannes. I noticed that those who own either a villa or a yacht in the South of France develop an unusual generosity and hospitality. Originally, I thought that this was due to the impulse to show off possessions, but, then, I discovered something else. Having a second home, whether it is a villa or a yacht, in such beautiful and glamorous surroundings as the Côte d'Azur, brings with it a sense of achievement which allows the successful owners to relax. This encourages them to open their arms to others, purely to share the experience. In New York or London, they suffer guests, but on the French Riviera they seem to embrace them more readily. Thus, those who may seem dour or sour in a capital city, like Greek millionaires, who look even more morose than rich Arabs, discover how to smile when entrenched for the season on their yachts or in their villas in the South of France. Michel David-Weil, the banker, was another I hardly saw when I was in New York or Paris, but I was a regular guest at his Sunday lunches, throughout the summer, when he was in his villa at Cap d'Antibes. David Niven, always the gentleman, was even more genteel when in residence at Cap Ferrat. Picasso, so stingy in Paris, was more generous in the ambiance of the South. Marc Chagal, when I interviewed him in St. Paul de Vence, gave me one of his drawings. I must add that he did this when his wife was not present. There are certain people, such as Madame Chagal, who are immune to the Riviera's atmosphere. Even one of my former wives, who after having left me chose

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The Author with John H. Loudon on John's boat. (Below) The Author with friends on his boat `Tamariu' in Antibes Harbour.

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to spend her old age in Monte Carlo, invited me, many times, to come to stay with her. I refused, in order to avoid hearing the recurring mantra of Italian wives: "I told you so!" again. Lady Daisy Fellows was a most generous hostess. Not only was she the patron who financed the famous Menton Musical Festival, but her dinner parties of up to 200 guests would be serenaded by Rubinstein playing the piano behind the Greek styled columns, surrounding her swimming pool, situated in her vast garden. Anybody who was somebody was there. I always felt a curious nostalgia at her parties, as if I were participating in an event of the past. Perhaps it was because these evenings were arranged with such elegant dignity, that I was conscious of the explosion of blue jeans, t-shirts and trainers that were over taking such events. During one of Lady Fellows' parties I found myself seated at the same table as Truman Capot, the American writer and social gossip. Like other American homosexuals, he was hell bent on being nasty, whatever the cost. In the middle of dinner he told us that he envied our hostess because she achieved a special orgasmic pleasure by having her skipper take her out on her yacht, from the harbour in Monte Carlo to the open sea, undress her, tie her to the mast and whip her. On a less abrasive note, the thought of the harbours of the coast reminds me of Jean, a jovial man who kept Antibes harbour free of rubbish. Twice a week he would do the rounds in his dingy, slightly drunk, collecting flotsam and jetsam, endlessly killing the popular French song `La Vie en Rose' as he worked. The memory of this local character pottering around, conjures up balmy days in one of the most satisfyingly ambient spots in the world.

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Vienna Episodes

I have just had dinner with Peter, it was his 90th Birthday. As usual, we spent the whole evening talking about the `Good Old Days' of middle Europe, of the culture of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the only Empire without colonies. Peter's mother was Viennese and his father from Budapest. We agreed that the Austro-Hungarian Empire developed a unique mentality, one based on the cult of `wunderkinder' or child prodigies. These were the children, mainly the boys, of upper middle class families, who tried to excel in order to please their parents and grandparents. This, Peter insisted, came out of the 68 year long rule of the Emperor Franz Joseph, who represented a protective and paternal figure, inspiring respect, which expressed itself by cultivating excellence and brilliance and appreciating talents. In the process of seeking to excel, many of these children also acquired great wit, astuteness and seductiveness. Most importantly many of them retained their `wunderkind' mentality throughout their lives. The cosmopolitan nature of the AustroHungarian Empire meant that this spread from Vienna to other cultural centres of the Empire, such as Budapest, Prague, Trieste and Novi Sad. In order to be seductive they cultivated politeness, elegance and manners, all pleasant attributes, even when they became excessively baroque in style and proportions. This atmosphere inspired many Austro-Hungarian Empire intellectuals, such as Sigmund Freud, Sir Carl Popper, Arthur Koestler, E.H. Gombrich, von Hayek, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Konrad Lorenz and many others, to create amusing and original theories, speculating about a variety of subjects. The negative side of these brilliant theories is that their beguiling power prevented them being fully explored and examined. Whenever I come across any of these playful or witty speculative theories, I feel they are part of a whimsical operetta, in

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which the protagonists are singing a glorious chorus with bright and shining faces, exclaiming their quest for excellence ever louder. The `wunderkinds' mentality also achieved something unique, not seen before or since in any part of Europe. It produced a special sense of gallantry, in which men and women enjoyed equality. Peter and I concluded that instead of fighting for human rights, humanity should try to develop culture of gallantry, which is a highly civilised virtue. My conversation with Peter made me think about the enigma of happiness. I came up with the following theory: Many great thinkers, and millions of ordinary people, have tried, in vain, to discover the real meaning of happiness. We fail, mostly because we try to define it when we are unhappy, which makes us aggressive, selfish and self-centred, and this prevents us approaching the idea rationally. Happiness is achieved when we contribute to life without trying or expecting to be rewarded by it. This is honest generosity, which gives us the dignity of the giver, and makes us feel worthy. This creates contentment, an integral part of happiness. Dignity, worthiness and contentment all contribute towards the efficient workings of our body, in particular its immune system, which gives us a sense of well-being. This allows us to have a wider awareness of life, more rationality and serenity and selfesteem. The opposite is even more obvious. Those who are mean, who do not give unconditionally to life, are more likely to suffer from anxiety and stress. They are unlikely to experience any sense of worthiness, serenity or self-esteem and are more likely to have a less efficient immune system, which makes them suffer more allergies, stress-related diseases, mental disorders, depression and suicides. Those who exploit life by all means, without contributing, who have a `more the better' attitude regardless of consequences,

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are often deeply unhappy, even if they appear to be successful, full of confidence and self-esteem. With dignity we acquire relaxation, which eliminates tension, agitation, rushing, insensitivity and confusion, which in turn helps us to realise that it is not the rich who are wealthy but the worthy. With dignity based on a grateful kindness towards life, we elevate ourselves above the fears of life, opening the way to the joy of living. In my time with the Chelsea Pensioners, I noticed that those who were decorated with medals for gallantry, for having risked their lives to save lives of wounded comrades, were healthier and happier than those who were decorated for aggressive behaviour against the enemy. I also realised that parents who dedicate their lives to their children produced morally and physically healthier offspring than parents who gave priority to their own selfish, and often futile, interests.

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Wisdom in Old Age

In all my years, through all the people I have met, I have learned many lessons. I believe I have taken most of them to heart, but perhaps that is more for others to say. I have learned that in order to have benefits or dividends in the future, you need to invest in the present. By investing our love, care, empathy, sympathy, generosity or magnanimity, we create capital, we become rich, we acquire a unique wealth, a wealth which eliminates a great deal of fear, including the fear of losing the capital. By being generous one lives longer and better. The life of a person is like that of a fruit tree: the more it is fruitful, the more people appreciate it and the more they take care of its health and well-being. I learned another truth in my life, which is to cultivate an interest in people and events. This increases our vitality, which makes life richer. The more we are interested in people and life, the more generous they become towards us. I also learned that we can only reach serenity through personal competence. A healthy competence can only be achieved if we limit our ambitions and desires to less than our capacity and energy to realise them. I stress the point that our ambitions and desires have to be below, and not on a level with, our capacity and energy, so that we are left with some in reserve. It is with this reserve that we can build our joy of living and our interest in people and life. With reserve energy, we can face emergencies, without reserves, we panic. By limiting our aims and desires and keeping a reserve, we acquire self-confidence, an important precondition of serenity. Contrary to the believer's arrogant and aggressive self-confidence, which leans on irrational and precarious faith, the healthy self-confidence, inspired by competence, is tolerant, understanding, friendly and generous. This self-confidence, inspired by competence, can help our

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immune system. In 1949, in Rome, I developed Tuberculosis. As I had helped Jews in hiding in Italy during the war, a Jewish organisation sent me to their Sanatorium in Merano. Most of the inmates of the Sanatorium were Jews from concentration camps in Nazi Germany. In order to enable them to emigrate, the Director decided to organise courses in such trades as, bookbinding, watch repairing and making ladies handbags. I saw that the process of acquiring a trade also accelerated their recovery. The Americans invented the tragicomic `the Pursuit of Happiness'. The pursuit of happiness is the pursuit of dreams. The pursuit of dreams tends to transform life into nightmares. Americans, and those imitating them, started trying to escape their self-made life of nightmares by chasing new dreams, bigger illusions, which created new nightmares and greater delusions. This brought them to rushing, which is increasingly becoming an addiction, a more vertiginous, irrational escape. I learned about another tragicomic situation. Life is currently dominated by the Western cult of individual freedom and independence. We are more and more aware that these beliefs are an absurdity. In the universe, interdependence is the rule. This does not allow for independent existence. In reality, this should help us to be kinder to each other; as by being kind to others, we help ourselves. Interdependence implies that a system of collaboration has to replace the current system of mutual exploitation, which is mutual alienation. Individual freedom and independence, in a universe that is interdependent, is a freak of nature, eroding the order. We are bombarded with the idea of selfish genes. If this was true, then life would never have produced organisms with cooperative organs. In fact, life would not have advanced beyond the level of genes isolated by their selfish loneliness. What is more, genes have no initiative. In order to be active they have to be stimulated by external conditions. Soon humanity will have to face its most serious problem, the increase of an elderly population. In facing this problem, the following embarrassing facts could become prominent. We are

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very proud to have increased the life span of our species, we seldom take into consideration that what we increase, in reality, is the period of old age, the period of infertility, impotence, dependency and physical and mental diseases. While the world population of the elderly is dramatically increasing, the planet's capacity to provide food and drinking water is rapidly diminishing. Following this tendency, we might soon reach the point in which not being able to increase the economic potential of our planet, we might think of limiting the demand by capping the world's old population. There was a myth in ancient Rome that there was a bridge on the Tiber called `Pons Sexagenarius' from which those reaching sixty had to jump. Old people can trade in their position of being tolerated, by becoming needed. This idea has taken off in many countries, with organisations making use of the retired as volunteers to use or teach their expertise, both locally and overseas. Most of these volunteers are only paid expenses, which does not put their pensions in jeopardy. It should be organised on a global level, encouraging more old people to become senior citizens in the best sense of the words. These organisations should assume the role of legal representatives, of tutors or guardians, of the future of our planet, of the generations to come. Associations of the increasing number of old people could be influential, given the fact that their population represents the electorate, many consumers, and that they can, through their pension funds and savings, influence industries and services, in order to improve the quality of life and take into account the welfare of generations to come. We maintain that we are the most intelligent animal on the planet. An intelligent species would give its future and the future of life on our planet more consideration. The associations of the elderly, which can initiate a new culture, should be inspired and guided mainly by elderly mothers and grandmothers. When a woman becomes a mother, she gains a natural sense of the future, which is evident in her innate sense

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of planning and organising for the survival of her offspring. Maternal attributes, such as loving, sharing, protecting and nurturing are intimately related to the future. In fact, these maternal attributes are investments, which pay their own dividends in building the future of her progeny. The survival of our species is the main dividend of our mothers' loving. Ironically, it is the elderly with less future, who could help us to acquire a fresh outlook on it. By becoming champions of the new culture, based on maternal attributes, the elderly could help humanity to build a better awareness of the future. This could transform the elderly from being an unnecessary subspecies into being needed and indispensable to humanity as a whole. The planetary economy, which is in tune with the rationality of our mature brain, should be a co-operative activity. The associations of old people should introduce studies in schools, on how to approach aging. Courses in a sense of humour should be introduced in all schools. Courses in a sense of humour could teach how to deride the damaging minds' fantasies, fiction, pretentiousness, and aggressiveness. These lessons on old age should explain that it is as important as physical exercise is to physical health, to exercise our brains for the good of our mental health. Exercising our brain can help prevent senility, dementia, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases in old age. Using a sense of humour, we can reduce our prejudices, our preconceptions and our fixed beliefs, which are enemies of curiosity, inquisitiveness, of complex occupations, which are essential for our brain's exercises, and for the brains' cognitive reserves. In fact, these cognitive reserves, acquired in life, are an essential element of our intelligence, which is our best companion in old age, our playmate in mental gymnastics, so important in fighting aging. Intense eagerness increases aging in a particular way. It creates impatience, rushing, a sense of emergency, tension and stubbornness, all of which can damage our physical and mental

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health. Creating strain and stress, eagerness can revive dormant cancers. A cell only becomes cancerous under the pressure. Many dormant cancers revive with the special stress in old people because they continue to do in their old age, what they did before. In order to create a better world, a representative association of elderly people should ask the United Nations to form a commission to rewrite the national histories of all UN member countries in terms that are more realistic. Looking back at our past through a romantic or politically expedient interpretation can only damage our future. Glorifying their past, many nations create fanatical nationalisms, which generate tensions, wars, ethnic cleansing, intolerance and persecutions. Countries should insert the absurd and ridiculous events of the nation's past in their national histories. This would positively reduce the prejudices which have been based on national superiority. Many people complain that history does not teach us wisdom. Both people and nations continue to repeat the same or similar mistakes over and over again. Nations would be more able to learn from their national histories, if these were written with a sense of humour, exposing the ridiculous events of the nation's past. As it is, to quote Hegel: "What experience and history teach us is that people and governments have never learned anything from history or acted on principles deduced from it." People and governments cannot learn from their national histories because they invent them to suit or to please the wishful prejudices of their present. A more truthful past could provide a less anxious present and a less fearful future. Freeing national histories from the glorification of the nation's past could eliminate the fear among foreigners in multinational communities. The idea of nationality eliminates the idea of humanity; nationality tends to lead to nationalism, which can become patriotism, which turns into chauvinism, which

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often leads to barbarism. Associations of the elderly could contribute to a better quality of life by committing themselves to the fight against pollution and environmental degradation. Most of those who are presently trying to solve this problem are politicians, who are responsible for the existence of the problem. It is interesting to note that gatherings aimed at solving the problem are mostly made up of men. This is absurd, as women are far better at maintaining a healthy environment. The elderly could help to better the quality of life through exemplary behaviour and mature attitudes as regards personal dignity, decency, honesty, politeness, elegance of manners, generosity and good taste. The more mature behaviour and attitudes of the elderly could become examples to be emulated by the rest of the community. Strolling in the street, the elderly could pick up rubbish and deposit it in the litterbins. As well as being good exercise, this sign of caring might become infectious among the rest of the community. The elderly would be more welcomed by the rest of the community if they became more optimistic in their attitudes. Many elderly people develop a tendency to view everything in a negative light. They do it because, selfishly, they want to convince themselves that life is not worth living any more. This attitude, they hope, might help them to leave this `ugly' world in indignation, with a feeling of superiority. In order to increase their popularity with the growing number of old people, some parts of the media tend to report mainly negative news, which creates a pessimistic atmosphere. The elderly also tend to complain because they feel more important when complaining. They should learn that complaining can damage their physical and mental health and that it can create a gloomy atmosphere in which they themselves have to live. So, in order to be able to contribute to a better quality of life,

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the elderly should concentrate first on improving the quality of their own lives. This would have the benefit of encouraging the young to regard their own old age more optimistically. In order to be able to improve the quality of life one has to love life. Loving life implies being generous to it. Our Western culture is more oriented towards material achievements in life as these achievements gratify our inflated egos. Pursuit of these achievements implies exploiting life. We seldom realise that the pursuit of material achievements creates tension and stress, which damage life. Even more seldom do we realise that obsessive pursuit of these achievements is an absurdity because whenever we achieve something we inflate our ego with importance, which develops a desire for greater achievement. Any failure to achieve can generate anger or rage, which can transform life into a hell. We should flirt with life, which is a pleasurable exploration of uncertainty in search of new experiences. Achieving kills the flirt. These courses should advise people on how to cultivate friends, pointing out that life without them is lonely and that loneliness accelerates ageing. Friends can be particularly helpful when we lose a loving partner, and especially in old age. Only friends can prevent a broken heart syndrome. A sense of friendship also can improve a sense of community in which we can find a safer existence. The Western tendency of cultivating and admiring self-assertiveness can be followed only at the expense of friends and friendship. A sense of humour could help those people who believe it is possible to prevent ageing by means of rejuvenation pills. By deriding these pills we might live longer than by using them. We should also learn that hobbies can improve the quality of life. Two particular hobbies, sailing and gardening, could be useful as they can reduce our pretentiousness, teaching us that in order to advance one has to act in harmony with nature and its forces. Gardening can also teach us that only maturity can be fruitful

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and that without fruitfulness there will not be continuation of life. Life lives on the fruits of life. We should be planting trees wherever we can. If the people are not appreciative, the birds will be. Hobbies can help us to reduce leisure time. Leisure time can create insomnia as it increases our opportunities for daydreaming and fantasising, which can prevent us from sleeping. In many parts of the world there are proverbs explaining that in a healthy body there is a healthy mind. The opposite is even more valid, as a sick mind creates psychosomatic diseases. The elderly should know that when we belong to a community individual problems lose their gravity. When we are alone, our problems tend to be more dramatic. When we are alone our fantasy is more fertile. With a more fertile fantasy, we tend to magnify problems. These courses should teach people how to think, how to use their rational brain. At present, schools do not teach us how to reason, how to use intelligence, how to be serene or wise, they teach us how to believe, how to be slaves of religions or ideological dogmas or prejudices, which prevent reasoning. This is best seen in fanatical believers. In limiting curiosity, the mind's beliefs also limit our sensations and emotions, which reduce the efficiency of our memory. In fact, in order to prevent the deterioration of the efficiency of our memory, the old could organise exercises in emotions. This can be done in drama groups. Playing emotional roles can improve the memory. The elderly would feel better, more joyful and more generous if they started deriding hope, as it reduces our brain's rational activity as well as that of our senses and perception, isolating us from reality, often making us laughable. As my advice may sound sacrilegious, because hope is an important Christian virtue, I would like to explain my idea in more detail.

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First of all, hope is a wishful illusion or delusion which, most of the time, ends in bitter disillusion, which can be followed by deep depression or paralysing apathy. Hope encourages pretensions and expectations and these can create helplessness and despair. Hope is not a serious or a positive value. Horace was right when he wrote: `Put aside trifling hopes.' Milton was right when in `Paradise Lost' he said: `So farewell hope, and with hope, farewell fear.' Dante was wrong to frighten sinners by inscribing above the portals of hell the following: `Abandon hope, all you who enter here.' He was wrong because hell, where there is no hope, is also a place without anxieties or fears, without worries or despair. `Qui nihil sperare potest, nihil desperat.' - `He who cannot hope, cannot despair,' writes Seneca. In `Paradise Regained' Milton echoed Seneca's words when he wrote: `For where no hope is left, is left no fear.' In addition, without fear we are in a better position to achieve love, sympathy, empathy, sharing and understanding. These courses should stress that learning how to be a good loser can reduce our suffering and so improve our quality of life. In medieval Italy there was a saying that there were three powerful people in the world: the Pope, the Emperor and the good loser. A bad loser easily develops unhealthy sadness or even rage, which can transform the bad loser into a chronic loser. Being frequent victims of physical pains, the elderly could use a sense of humour to reduce the suffering caused by them. Physical pain easily offends an inflated or pretentious ego, which can develop the ego's suffering, and this suffering can increase physical pain. Courses preparing us for old age should deal with the mid-life crisis which precedes old age. Our Western culture glorifies youth and youthfulness, thereby, in fact, causing and aggravating the mid-life crisis, which can ruin the rest of life. Many men carry into their old age what can be called `prob- 187 -

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lems addiction', which implies the accumulation of problems in search of a sense of self-importance. These courses should teach us that the more we are worried about our problems, the less we are able to worry about others' problems, which alienate us from others. In this alienation or loneliness our problems become more dramatic, and our selfimportance more ridiculous. When approaching old age many people start worrying about how to cope with it as it is an age in which nothing can improve. People should know that there is something important that can improve a great deal in old age and that is our sense of humour. Deriding our mind's world, a sense of humour improves the efficiency of our senses and perception, widening our participation in real life and enabling us to discover the joy of living, which can take place mainly in community. Depression can be a cause of insomnia. The most usual feeling of a depressed person is one of worthlessness. This feeling can easily be reduced by developing a feeling of being needed, and we can all be needed by reducing our self-appreciation. By becoming generous we can transform a meaningless existence into a meaningful life. Many depressed people develop a deep self-hate which can easily end in suicide. In fact, in many cases, suicide is the murder of the real self by the frustrated idealised self. This self-hate usually appears when we are disillusioned in our self-love, and we are bound to be disillusioned by our selflove if we stretch it too far. Selfless love is the best cure of selfish self-love. A dose of modesty and humbleness can reduce pretentiousness. Modesty and humbleness seldom generate depression, suicidal behaviour or other mental disorders. Many old people fear death. Fear of death can transform life into a chronic dying. One of the greatest illusions or self-deceptions practised by the mind is its belief in eternal life. Many believers spend their entire lives entertaining this fixed illusion. Burdening our psyche with lies creates tension. This tension

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prevents us improving the quality of our earthly life. If we did not believe in life after death, we would eliminate religious fanatics who believe they will reach an eternal paradise if they die fighting so-called infidels. Old people tend to become victims of accidents. Accidents usually happen when we are distracted. Distraction is caused mainly in two ways. We can become distracted either because we are concentrating excessively on ourselves or because we are leaning strongly on our mind's beliefs. In both cases our senses and perceptions are reduced which exposes us to accidents. In both cases we become more rigid and our rigidity easily breaks down. By eliminating our excessive self-centredness we become more flexible and that helps us to avoid or to prevent accidents. These courses should advise the elderly to cultivate the smile. Instead of looking sad or depressed, the elderly should learn to smile in contact with others, in the street and in public places. Being contagious, a smile invites others to smile, which creates a relaxing and friendly atmosphere. Many cultures stress that we should not do to others what we would not like to be done to us. This is a negative attitude of selfish and frightened mentalities. A more mature attitude should consist in doing to others what they would like to be done to them. We can discover what others would like to be done to them by understanding them. We can understand them if we listen to them with interest. We can do this if we eliminate our self-interest. `Love your neighbour as you love yourself,' does not work as we love ourselves with a self-interest which usually goes against the neighbour's interest. The new culture should advise the replacement of the cult of games with that of play. Games are antagonistic, stressful, aggressive, often hostile or violent. Games create opponents aiming at victory, which creates victims, frustrated losers. Playing, instead, provides an enjoyable togetherness, and an invigorating pleasure, joviality and fun, camaraderie and friendship.

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Old people should learn an important truth, that a good or kind person is seldom tired. I am sure that goodness and kindness are either relaxing or important sources of energy, or both. These courses should teach us that, in order to be integrated into the community, we have to abandon our selfish mentality and to start contributing to the community. One becomes a part of the community if one gives more to it than one takes out of it. The association of the elderly should create the culture of `Enough', of minimal necessity, by rationing the mind's desires and fantasies, on a planet with limited resources. An old people's cult of dignity could introduce a sense of shame, which would reduce our bad taste. Our obsession with the cult of youth and youthfulness prevents us having a sense of decency. What is more, under the pressure from increasing i n d ividual freedom, the ancient Roman virtue of `pudor', inspired by the stoic `puritas' or decency, is disappearing from our more and more permissive or licentious world. We lose a great deal of time and energy in the pursuit of pleasures. If we used our time and energy consumed in the pursuit of pleasure, in the pursuit of serenity, we could have a better and a wiser world. Lately, and in particularly in the Western World, one can notice an ironic situation in our evolution. The young of any species aims at reaching maturity. However, we are increasingly developing a cult of youth, which is changing the roles of parents and children in our natural evolution. Youth has succeeded in creating its empire. An empire ruled by the youth implies extreme selfishness, self-centredness, unscrupulousness, and irrationality. Parents consider that their most sacred duty is to amuse and to please their children and to create a fairytale world around them, to keep them, as far as possible, from the reality of life. They even talk to children, imitating ch i l d r e n's language. Instead of leading the children towards maturity, responsibility, serenity and wisdom, their aim is to remain young themselves, to return to the look and behaviour of the young. This deepens and

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perpetuates children's infancy. I am sure that the `Harry Potter' books would never have had the appeal that they did, if humanity were more mature. These children carry on their infantile mentality into adulthood and into old age. The Western world, in fact, is creating a new species, the retarded grown-ups. This retarded humanity lives in the present, without clear orientations, as far as the future is concerned. The most negative consequence of the growing cult of youthfulness is the under-development of our maturity. A case in point is the fact that we find solutions to our problems in toys. Mobile phones and internet games have become the answer to our loneliness and alienation. These new toys are increasingly becoming a part of us, to such an extent that when we lose them, we grieve and become physically sick. Toying with our new organs provides excitement, which inevitably leads to a post-excitement emptiness, to an increase in our isolation. Inspired by infantile mentality, we are becoming victims of degrading and irritating ironies, which are the main source of our anger. In fact, the best definition of our species would be `Homo iracundus', Man who is guided mainly by vindictive ire.

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A Sense of Humour

As I have indicated throughout this book, the only way Homo sapiens can truly deserve its title `sapiens' is through humour, I would like to explain what a sense of humour and laughter really are. We are proud to consider ourselves the only species able to laugh. We seldom realise that we are also the only laughable species. In fact, laughter has to be preceded by the laughable. `Homo ridens' is preceded by `Homo ridiculus'. What makes us ridiculous? The answer is our mind, with its self-created world far removed from reality. The mind conjures up countless diversions, and distractions from reality, such as beliefs, follies, fantasies, illusions, delusions, absurdities, affectations, poses and pretensions. Our mind tends to take these deviations seriously and in doing so becomes ridiculous. An important characteristic of the mind's uncertain and unstable world is that it generates aggressiveness. The aggressiveness of the mind produces additional tension. This tension of the mind is discharged whenever the mind's ideas, belief, or pretensions are shaken. The collapse or the failure of the mind's ideas, beliefs or pretensions, releases the tension caused by the mind. This release of the mind's created tension can result in laughter. Laughter, fear and anxiety are intimately related. Dante was wrong to introduce `holy laughter' in his `Paradise', as paradise is supposed to be a place without worries, fears or anxieties. Nietzsche advised his `Superman' to laugh, but being without fear and anxiety, Nietzsche's superman is unable to laugh, and this makes him laughable. Worshippers of the mind's supernatural world abhor laughter. Among the enemies of laughter we find philosophers, religious and ideological leaders and fanatics. Greek philosophers

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considered laughter a sign of madness or vulgarity. Christian leaders considered it satanic or diabolic, and, in fact, there is no mention of Christ ever laughing. The relationship between fear and laughter can best be illustrated by the following. If we see a person in uniform, which usually represents intimidating authority, slipping on a banana skin, we laugh. If we see an inoffensive invalid, or a blind person, falling down in the same way, we do not laugh. Laughter is infectious, it is the sound of someone suddenly releasing tension, and thus achieving an inoffensive and nonaggressive state. Sensing this, others in the company of the laughing person also release their tension and join in. Perhaps, just like another infectious signal of relaxation, yawning, it is an indication that, for a moment, fear, threat, anxiety and irritation are minimal and the company becomes a protected community. A state of good humour is the healthiest condition for human beings to achieve. A sense of humour, by enabling us to expose, deflate or deride the ridiculous creations of the Mind, makes this state attainable by reducing the fear and anxieties created by the dominance of the Mind on our lives and culture. However, there is some confusion about what `humour' really means. Fielding wrote in his `Covent Garden Journal', "In truth, there is nothing so unsettled and uncertain as our notion of humour in general." Our understanding of this subject does not seem to have improved since Fielding's time. The fact that many people consider humour synonymous with comedy or wit merely adds to the confusion. The comic comes into play whenever physical or cosmic laws expose the absurdity of our Mind's abstractions or beliefs, whenever Nature deflates ego, whenever reality debases pretentiousness, capricious expectations or wishful assumptions, whenever material objectivity brings ethereal subjectivity and its posturing, affectation or self-deception, down to earth. The word humour is derived from the Latin word `umor' and the medieval word `humour', both of which were medical terms

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meaning a biological disposition or temperament. From the beginning of the seventeenth century, however, the word humour also began to mean an adopted `umor', an affectation, a pose, a pretension. In the introduction to his `Every Man out of his Humour', Ben Jonson found the affected `umor' "more than most ridiculous." By liberating our sense of perception from its distorting and inhibiting over-seriousness, a sense of humour enables us to perceive humanity in its nakedness, with magnanimity, pity and sympathy. Carlyle emphasised this when he wrote in his essay `On Richter', that "the essence of humour is sensibility: warm, tender fellow-feeling with all forms of existence." Good humour inspires magnanimity because through it we cannot fail to perceive familiar aspects of the human condition, in particular the suffering, pathos and despair brought about by pretentiousness, chasing after `ought-to-be' illusions, and capricious over-ambition. A sense of humour exercises our capacity for realistic reasoning, thus banishing the risk of intimidation by irrational wishful thinking, and keeps the intelligent activity of our brain alive and alert. Since it is infectious, a sense of humour can create a healthy atmosphere of togetherness and intimacy, a natural condition for our species that was born to live as a socially interdependent community. Humour immunises us against ideologies or beliefs, dogmas or prejudices, leaving us mentally fit to enjoy a life free from stress and frustration. Wit and humour are often considered mistakenly to be one and the same thing, however, they are not, and it is essential to understand the difference. Wit is a product of our brain's activity in periods of Mindcreated emotional arousal, kept alive by resentment on the part of the wit himself, usually resulting from some form of humiliation or frustration. Wit is his vindictive or malicious catharsis, his exorcism of emotional arousal. "There is no possibility of

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being witty without a little of ill-nature; the malice of a good thing is the barb that makes it stick," wrote Sheridan in `School for Scandal'. The wit never loses an opportunity to launch his poisoned arrows, as Quintilian wrote, `Potius amicum quam dictum perdere' (Better lose a friend than a chance for a wisecrack). When the wit's emotional arousal is linked to the idea that created it, wit becomes a compulsive game, an obsession. He is "plagued with an itching leprosy of wit," as Ben Jonson put it. A wit becomes intoxicated by his own venom, revelling in the agony of his victims. Swift, a well-known exponent, confessed to Alexander Pope that it was a pleasure to harass people: "The chief end I propose to myself in all my labours is to vex the world rather than to divert it." In his, `Antologie de I'humour noir', André Breton made the following observ at i on about Alphonse Allais, possibly the greatest malicious wit in France since Voltaire: "Il excelle à mettre en difficulté l'individu satisfait, ébloui de truisme et sûr de lui" (He excels in embarrassing those who feel self-satisfied and self-righteous). While humour encourages relaxation, wit creates tension; while humour fosters togetherness, wit creates distance and division; while humour generates charm, benevolence and magnanimity, wit generates defiance, malevolence and contempt; while humour disarms the Mind, wit alerts it. Humour seeks intimacy, wit longs for indiscretion; humour brings about humility, wit brings about insolence; the humorist is kind and tolerant, whereas the wit is offensive and impertinent, humour is simple, wit leans towards the pompous and baroque. The good news is that anyone can have a sense of humour, once they manage to deride their mind's pretentiousness. In his book `The Tragic Sense of Life', Miguel de Unamuno wrote: "The mortal Don Quixote, in dying, realised his own comic-ness and bewept his sins; but the immortal Quixote, realising his own comic-ness, superimposes himself upon it and triumphs over it without renouncing it... He (Don Quixote) will triumph by making himself ridiculous. And he will triumph by

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laughing at himself and making himself the object of his own laughter." Deriding the mind's pretentiousness helps us to become more mature. By helping us to reach maturity, a sense of humour can remedy the disorders of our minds, such as exaggeration, excessiveness and our preference for quantity over quality. By disarming these disorders, a sense of humour can bring us closer to harmony, beauty and a true Homo sapiens.

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This page has been downloaded from The Nomadic Humorist by Dr. Branko Bokun Published August 2007 Available from www.vitabooks.com

This page has been downloaded from The Nomadic Humorist by Dr. Branko Bokun Published August 2007 Available from www.vitabooks.com

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