Remember when the internet, Twitter, Facebook and other such useless gimmicks were supposed to usher in an era of transparency and knowledgable bliss? This technology makes George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four redundant: no longer science fiction; more Knights of the Round Table. Big Brother is more powerful and more all-knowing than ever before, and we have that Errol Flynn lookalike Mark Zuckerberg to thank. There is no such thing as privacy any longer, unless of course one writes letters by hand and does not possess a smart telephone. (Include me out — I own a mobile but use it only when on board a sailing boat.)
Yes, the world has changed, but some of us still stick to the Old Testament, which means using a rotary telephone, allowing women to enter and exit first when using a lift, resisting the urge to drop one’s trousers in front of a lady unless asked by her to do so, refusing to give gender-neutral names to grandchildren, and refraining from offering insights into one’s character and one’s bank balance to strangers.
I guess that makes me sound rather old, but what the hell, at least I’m not gender-neutral, whatever that is. Ageing has become the equivalent of the big C, something people are ashamed of. Everyone has caught the dreaded Hollywood plague of telling others how well they look. When I was young, no one volunteered an opinion on how people checked out except to comment when someone was extremely hung over and looked it. Now the first thing you hear is how brilliant you look and other such bullshit.
America is a nation of strivers and everyone’s striving for happiness. It’s in the Declaration of Independence if you don’t believe me. And it’s old Tom Jefferson who put it in: the pursuit of happiness is what American life is all about. But are Americans happy? I think that those who live in Wyoming are, or Montana, or Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, Maine, North and South Carolina, West Virginia, Iowa, Ohio, and even New Hampshire. But the rest are all bloody miserable and scared to death of dying. Nothing in American culture prepares its people for leaving this life. Everything is promised in television commercials except how to drop dead with dignity. Yep, it’s a sin to grow old, and a mortal sin to die, in the Land of the Depraved. The antidotes to sin are diet, exercise, alternative treatments and more baloney.
Oh yes, I almost forgot, money also brings happiness, and one very happy fellow right now is a chap by the name of Madison Cox, somebody you have probably never heard of but will soon enough. He is an expatriate American who is 59 years old and at this moment he is very angry with a friend of mine, Christopher Petkanas, the author of a book called Loulou & Yves: The Untold Story of Loulou de la Falaise and the House of Saint Laurent.
The title is bit of a mouthful, perhaps, but the book nails Cox and how he ended up as a billionaire by doing what comes naturally to some and extremely unnaturally to the likes of me. Cox was married to Pierre Bergé, Saint Laurent’s bum boy, and if this confuses you, I’m not surprised. The designer and Pierre Bergé, one of the world’s most unpleasant men — a short, stout, preening Frenchman but a business genius — were a couple of boys in love and then another boy, called Madison, entered the equation. After Saint Laurent died, the two made undisturbed whoopy together. Just before Bergé died, he married Madison, and when he was ten feet under Madison Cox was revealed to be a billionaire. Nothing wrong with that except I’m old-fashioned and believe that only sons and daughters should inherit.
Never mind. Loulou de la Falaise is a distant cousin by marriage, and was a fine girl who was Saint Laurent’s muse, whatever that means. Petkanas believes that Madison Cox stopped a scheduled speech about his book (he certainly has the financial muscle to do so). If that’s so, it’s rather rich. Cox marries a very old man, inherits his estate, and then goes around trying to stop a book that has very little to do with him but isn’t that nice about him when he is mentioned.
The reason Madison Cox may be angry is that in the book it is revealed that while the old boy Bergé was around, so was a certain Jaimal Odedra, a longtime boyfriend of Madison’s. Zut alors! What these naughty girls were up to is amazing. What I don’t understand is why, now that they’ve got their hands on the Saint Laurent-Bergé loot, they care what people think. I guess that is the only chink in their armour. Madison Cox now wants it to look as though he made his money in the same way certain peasants did, peasants called Ford and Rockefeller and Getty. No way, Jose.