European Diary

Another Fake Rolexsky!

Of late I have been writing a good deal for Russian publications, including Snob, which has now given me a weekly column.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think that my mother tongue would provide me with something like material comfort.  A thorny path of spiritual improvement?  Possibly.  A way of finding better vodka, cheaper caviar, and less liberated women?  Certainly.  But a source of income?  You must be joking.

As a columnist I scour the Russian press, always on the lookout for the softest bit of conformity’s underbelly, and recently I came upon the Russian version of the British social glossy Tatler, launched in Moscow with great fanfare as the key to high life in the inscrutable West.  In general, one of the problems with the world today is that there are many more keys than there are locks, but yet again this has stopped no one from inventing a new one, with the predictable result that the Russian version of English fashionable society is at first glance as pointless as the Condé Nast version of it.  But the charade has a deeper meaning.

Over the Christmas holidays I opened a random issue of the Russian magazine and saw a London banker friend of mine, Chinese by birth, described in the caption under his photograph as “a star of action films with eastern combat scenes”—in other words, a successor to the cult reputation of Bruce Lee.  In the photograph,...

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