Under the Black Flag

Parties and Strange Bedfellows

London summer parties are a dime a dozen.  The moment the weather turns hot, Englishmen cast aside their brollies and head for a garden party.  This year was no different.  I spent from the latter part of June until mid-July in England, and went to more parties than there are Trump haters in New York and L.A.  There was a grand ball in the country given by the crown prince of Greece, Pavlos, for his 50th birthday that reminded me of my youth, because that’s what people used to do in the good old days: Give parties and balls for their friends and neighbors.  No longer.  Parties nowadays are given in order to promote a product or a person, and there are sponsors picking up the bill.  Elsa Maxwell and Perle Mesta are turning over in their graves.  Not to mention Mrs. J.J. Astor.

All that was good went with the wind once the vulgar new rich of Wall Street and Hollywood stopped aping their betters and began wearing sneakers with their tuxedos, and T-shirts with their Armani suits.  Everything became commercial, every party a promotional event organized by p.r. flacks and reported by celebrity sites and publications.  The rot started about 25 years ago, just as the Clintons hit the big time.

So it was a particular delight to go to a party and sit next to people who hadn’t paid a fortune for their seats and weren’t pushing some product.  The English countryside...

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