Bad taste in ‘ladies’
The funny thing about Sarkozy being president of France is not his size, but his family. His father, Pal Sarkozy, used to frequent the same nightclubs as I did back in the early Sixties. Of the ‘beau monde’ he was not. Pal was sort of sleazy, and sort of a conman, and sort of a playboy. None of us knew what he did, and by that I don’t mean to suggest he was dishonest, but there were always rumours about him. An inveterate womaniser, a good thing for a father of a French president to be, his women, alas, were a pretty lousy bunch. Except for one of them, Beatrice de M, a close friend of mine whom he promised a trip to the altar but then dropped, most of his ladies were not ladies.
His third wife was the sister of a very old buddy of mine, Bernard de Ganay, and she was the worst of a bad lot. Last year her daughter from the union with Pal arrived in Gstaad and was seated next to me at dinner. Although married she chose to use the Sarkozy moniker in order to impress the peasants she was dining with. She was opinionated and aggressive, the two most horrible traits a woman can be saddled with. She got very much on my nerves but I held my tongue. Caroline Sarkozy had been brought to the dinner by a mutual friend, so I let it pass. Now that her halfbrother is president of France I regret not telling her what I thought. Having enemies in high places is very important after 70. Mind you, I hope she does not return to Gstaad. The place has enough rich phonies as it is. And if Pal Sarkozy is still with us, I’m sure access to the Elysée Palace will improve his taste in ‘ladies’.
And while I’m on French politics, the new foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, is a brilliant choice. Kouchner called Sarkozy ‘a man who feels no shame’, yet was chosen by the diminutive GraecoHungarian to be his first minister.
Here again, there is a slight Taki connection — his time with his long-time partner, Christine Ockrent. La Ockrent was France’s numero uno news announcer, a blonde with brains as well as looks. I first met her in 1967 when she came to Athens following the Colonels’ coup, working for CBS’s 60 Minutes, a popular American news programme. I had to wine her and dine her while she vainly waited for an interview with the top dog, Colonel George Papadopoulos. We got to be quite friendly but she did not give in. Ten years later, at a chic dinner party given by Baron Leon Lambert in Gstaad, Christine greeted me with ‘Comment Va va, Taki, toujours fascist?’ ‘qa va, Christine,’ said I, ‘et vous, toujours putain?’ Well, Leon’s sister-in-law, my now great friend Marion Lambert, heard only my greeting and thought it an appalling way to address a lady. I was made to apologise but there were never any hard feelings.
Kouchner is an elegant, dapper man with film-star looks who co-founded the Nobel Prize-winning relief organisation Doctors Without Borders. A man of the extreme Left, he and Christine are stuck with the label gauche caviar, but I have never understood why someone cannot be a communist and still eat in the best restaurant, as the Kouchners always do. They live in a grand duplex overlooking the Luxembourg Gardens, probably the best address in Paris. Sarkozy and Kouchner will make a great combination. My choice would have been Le Pen, but at least France did not end up with Ségolène, the Gallic version of the ghastly Hillary.
Otherwise, I am sad to be leaving the Big Bagel. Last week I went to the wedding of Minnie Mortimer to Oscar-winning screenwriter Stephen Gaghan. The Mortimers are a very old and distinguished American family whom I will not call American royalty because ignorant hacks say that about the Kennedys. Needless to say, the Mortimers resemble the Kennedys in the same way that the Habsburgs bear likeness to the Corleones, of Godfather fame. Minnie is a delightful girl whom my son had a crush on when both were six. It runs in the family. I’ve had a crush on the bride’s cousin, Amanda Burden, now the Bagel’s Planning Commissioner, a most powerful post, all my life. Again, no cigar. After the ceremony, at a great lunch which lasted for hours on end with a band and dancing, I sat next to my old friend Michael Thomas, a polymath who is the only man I know who resigned from White’s ‘because they let in too many vulgar Americans’. And he didn’t do it for effect, either. He can be grumpy and cynical but for all the right reasons. Sitting next to him was like sitting between Chesterton and Shaw. Humorous and eloquent, he was a delight to listen to, and for once I didn’t get a word in edgewise.
Next week it’s Washington for a speech about the future of the American Right. There is no future — the neocons took care of that — and then on to London and some serious partying. I have my opening line all ready for my speech: ‘What is the difference between neoconservatives and women? You can sometimes find women on the battlefield.’