European Diary

Lana Turner’s Nose

In the spiritual suburbia whose probable attitudes to various emotional predicaments I imagine in these diaries, men tend to pride themselves on their rationalism and are much less interested in the alchemy of feeling than women, as shown by audience-share breakdowns of soap operas and by the proportion of romantic subject-matter in women’s magazines.  “Love,” as the automobile tycoon Gianni Agnelli once put it between snorts of coke, “is something that fascinates housemaids.”  By contrast, what I always thought fascinated housemaids was automobiles, though, of course, these are mostly driven by chauffeurs, who are men.

But again, it may be remembered that, however bleak and provincial was the London suburb of establishmentarian sentiment whose men and women came up for the evening to mill about in the pubs of Soho and the wine bars of Bloomsbury, it was as nothing compared to where the American metropolis was heading.  It was heading for a future where love did not exist at all, not even in the conditional form analogous to a religious tradition, any more than did beauty, even in the conditional form of a Hollywood screen goddess.

Remember an actress called Lana Turner?  Let me write the name again, this time in the monumental style of an ancient lapidary inscription, like this: LANA TURNER.  Well, Miss Turner had a rather large nose—not by any means enormous,...

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