Country Life, the
quintessential English magazine, is undoubtedly one of the biggest
and instantly recognisable brands in the UK today. The magazine
comments in depth on a wide variety of subjects, such as
architecture, property, the arts, gardens and gardening, the
countryside, schools and wildlife. This eclectic editorial mix,
combined with stunning photography and high-end property advertising
ensures that week after week, Country Life is read by people who live
the real country house lifestyle. Countrylife.co.uk brings over 100
years of editorial and commercial excellence to the web and is one of
the best and most enjoyable places to browse for luxury property for
sale online. The site also showcases the best of the editorial from
Country Life magazine as well as carrying its own exclusive online
content covering rural news, seasonal recipes and countryside events.
Country Life was
launched in 1897, incorporating Racing Illustrated. At this time it
was owned by Edward Hudson, the owner of Lindisfarne Castle and
various Lutyens-designed houses including The Deanery in Sonning.
At that time golf
and racing served as its main content, as well as the property
coverage, initially of manorial estates, which is still such a large
part of the magazine. Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the late Queen Mother,
used to appear frequently on its front cover. Now the magazine covers
a range of subjects in depth, from gardens and gardening to country
house architecture, fine art and books, and property to rural issues,
luxury products and interiors.
The frontispiece of
each issue usually features a portrait photograph of a young woman of
society, or, on occasion, a man of society: Princes William and Harry
have both been frontispieces in recent years.
In 2016, in its
119th year, Country Life was the subject of a three-part documentary
series made by Spun Gold and which aired on BBC Two on consecutive
Friday nights in March. The magazine has also celebrated its
best-ever selling issue - the double issue from Christmas 2015 - and
a 6th ABC increase in a row, which is an achievement no other weekly
magazine publishing original content can claim.
In 1997, the
centenary of the magazine was celebrated by a special issue, the
publishing of a book by Sir Roy Strong, the airing of a BBC2 TV
programme on a year in the life of the magazine, and staging a Gold
Medal winning garden at the Chelsea Flower Show. In 1999, the
magazine launched a new website.
In 2007, the
magazine celebrated its 110th anniversary with a special souvenir
issue on 4 January. Starting on Wednesday 7 May 2008 the magazine
is issued each Wednesday, having been on sale each Thursday for the
past 111 years, with the earlier day being achieved using electronic
The first several
dozen pages of each issue are devoted to colour advertisements for
upmarket residential property, which are one of the best known
attractions of the magazine, and popular with everyone from the super
rich looking for a country house or estate to those who can only
aspire to own such a property.
The magazine covers
the pleasures and joys of rural life. It is primarily concerned with
rural communities and their environments as well as the concerns of
country dwellers and landowners and has a diverse readership which,
although mainly UK based is also international. Much of its success
has historically been built on its coverage of country house
architecture and gardening at a time when the architectural press
largely ignored this building type. An extensive photographic archive
has resulted, now of great importance to architectural historians.
The other rural
pursuits and interests covered include hunting, shooting, farming,
equestrian news and gardening and there are regular news and opinion
pieces as well as a firm engagement with rural politics. There are
reviews of books, food and wine, art and architecture (also many
offers) and antiques and crafts. Illustrative material includes the
Tottering-by-Gently cartoon by Annie Tempest. The property section
claims to have more prime agents than anywhere else. In addition.
monthly luxury and interiors sections offer readers some informed
ideas about the latest in jewellery, style and travel, and interiors.
articles have included Charles, Prince of Wales guest-editing an
issue of Country Life in 2013, an historic revelation which revealed
the true face of Shakespeare for the first time in 2015, and in 2016
an exclusive on where the Great Fire of London really began in 1666.
Upcoming are a special commemorative issue in June 2016 on the
occasion of the Queen's 90th birthday, and a Best of Britain
celebrating the very best of what the United Kingdom has to offer,
from craftsmen to landscapes.
Around the world,
dandies embrace style while respecting their local cultural
traditions. Dandyism transcends fashion —it is a committed way of
life. An international survey of the global dandy community from the
creators of I am Dandy.
Photographs by Rose
Callahan, Texts by Nathaniel Adams
22.5 × 29 cm
hardcover, 304 pages
Shop Price: €39.90
€39.90 / $60.00 /
About This Book
From America to
Africa to Asia, dandyism is a way of life. It is fashion in the best
sense, self-esteem through style. And, in every country, it takes a
unique form as dandies draw on the local context and fashion culture
to shape their looks. We are Dandy throws open the doors of the
wardrobe and explores the dandy as a global phenomenon. With texts as
witty as the subjects are stylish, the book pokes between the folds
to let us know these exceptional individuals. For them, their dandy
fashion is more than a trend or a phase—it is who they are, the
outer expression of their inner selves. Photographs and profiles
paired with clever histories reveal what it takes to look your best
around the world. We are Dandy unfolds with a foreword by the
illustrious Dita Von Teese that conveys the authenticity of these
aesthetes, their passions, and their bravely curated philosophies.
Adams has been involved with the historical and contemporary Dandy
phenomenon for many years —it even informs his own wardrobe. A
research grant aided the studied journalist in traveling around the
world and into the eclectic homes of various Dandies.
New York is more
than the current home of filmmaker and photographer, Rose Callahan;
the city is also the site and start of her involvement with the
Dandy. In 2008, she created the blog The Dandy Portraits, where she
documents the many facets of the modern gentleman. Shortly
afterwards, she met Natty Adams and the idea for I am Dandy was born
Coco Chanel had
wanted to develop a distinctly modern fragrance for some time by
early 1920. At this time, Chanel's lover was Grand Duke Dmitri
Pavlovich Romanov of Russia, the murderer of Rasputin. The duke
introduced her to Ernest Beaux on the French Riviera. Beaux was the
master perfumer at A. Rallet and Company, where he had been employed
since 1898. The company was the official perfumer to the Russian
royal family, and "the imperial palace at St. Petersburg was a
famously perfumed court."The favorite scent of the Czarina
Alexandra, composed specifically for her by Rallet in Moscow, had
been an eau de cologne opulent with rose and jasmine named Rallet
O-DE-KOLON No.1 Vesovoi.
In 1912, Beaux
created a men's eau de cologne, Le Bouquet de Napoleon, to
commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Borodino, a
decisive battle in the Napoleonic Wars. The success of this men's
fragrance inspired Beaux to create a feminine counterpart, whose
jumping off point was the chemical composition of aldehydic
multiflores in Houbigant's immensely popular Quelques Fleurs (1912).
His experiments with
the aldehydes in Quelques Fleurs, resulted in a fragrance that he
called Le Bouquet de Catherine. He intended to use the scent to
inaugurate another celebration in 1913, the 300th anniversary of the
Romanoff dynasty. The debut of this new perfume proved ill-timed
commercially. World War I was approaching, and the czarina and the
perfume's namesake, the Empress Catherine, had both been German-born.
A marketing misfortune that invoked unpopular associations, combined
with the fact that Le Bouquet de Catherine was enormously expensive,
made it a commercial failure. An attempt to re-brand the perfume, as
Rallet No. 1 was unsuccessful, and the outbreak of World War I in
1914 effectively prevented public acceptance of the brand.
Beaux, who had
affiliated himself with the Allies and the White Russian army, had
spent 1917–19 as a lieutenant stationed far north, in the last
arctic outpost of the continent, Arkangelsk, at Mudyug Island Prison
where he interrogated Bolshevik prisoners. The polar ice, frigid
seascape, and whiteness of the snowy terrain sparked his desire to
capture the crisp fragrance of this landscape into a new perfume
Beaux perfected what
was to become Chanel No. 5 over several months in the late summer and
autumn of 1920. He worked from the rose and jasmine base of Rallet
No. 1. altering it to make it cleaner, more daring, reminiscent of
the pristine polar freshness he had inhabited during his war years.
He experimented with modern synthetics, adding his own invention
"Rose E. B" and notes derived from a new jasmine source, a
commercial ingredient called Jasophore. The revamped, complex formula
also ramped up the quantities of orris-iris-root and natural musks.
key was Beaux's use of aldehydes. Aldehydes are organic compounds of
carbon, oxygen and hydrogen. They are manipulated in the laboratory
at crucial stages of chemical reaction whereby the process arrests
and isolates the scent. When used creatively, aldehydes act as
"seasonings", an aroma booster. Beaux's student, Constantin
Weriguine, said the aldehyde Beaux used had the clean note of the
arctic, "a melting winter note". Legend has it that this
wondrous concoction was the inadvertent result of a laboratory
mishap. A laboratory assistant, mistaking a full strength mixture for
a ten percent dilution, had jolted the compound with a dose of
aldehyde in quantity never before used. Beaux prepared ten glass
vials for Chanel's inspection. Numbered 1–5 then 20–24, the gap
presented the core May rose, jasmine and aldehydes in two
complementary series, each group a variation of the compound. "Number
five. Yes," Chanel said later, "that is what I was waiting
for. A perfume like nothing else. A woman's perfume, with the scent
of a woman."
According to Chanel,
the formula used to produce No. 5 has changed little since its
creation, except for the necessary exclusion of natural civet and
Chanel envisioned a
design that would be an antidote for the over-elaborate, precious
fussiness of the crystal fragrance bottles then in fashion
popularized by Lalique and Baccarat. Her bottle would be "pure
transparency ...an invisible bottle." It is generally considered
that the bottle design was inspired by the rectangular beveled lines
of the Charvet toiletry bottles, which, outfitted in a leather
traveling case, were favored by her lover, Arthur "Boy"
Capel. Some say it was the whiskey decanter he used that she
admired and wished to reproduce in "exquisite, expensive,
The first bottle
produced in 1919, differed from the Chanel No. 5 bottle known today.
The original container had small, delicate, rounded shoulders and was
sold only in Chanel boutiques to select clients. In 1924, when
"Parfums Chanel" incorporated, the glass proved too thin to
sustain shipping and distribution. This is the point in time when the
only significant design change took place. The bottle was modified
with square, faceted corners.
In a marketing
brochure issued in 1924, "Parfums Chanel" described the
vessel, which contained the fragrance: "the perfection of the
product forbids dressing it in the customary artifices. Why rely on
the art of the glassmaker ...Mademoiselle is proud to present simple
bottles adorned only by ...precious teardrops of perfume of
incomparable quality, unique in composition, revealing the artistic
personality of their creator."
Unlike the bottle,
which has remained the same since redesigned in 1924, the stopper has
gone through numerous modifications. The original stopper was a small
glass plug. The octagonal stopper, which became a brand signature,
was instituted in 1924, when the bottle shape was changed. The 1950s
gave the stopper a bevel cut and a larger, thicker silhouette. In the
1970s the stopper became even more prominent but, in 1986, it was
re-proportioned so its size was more harmonious with the scale of the
flacon" devised to be carried in the purse was introduced in
1934. The price point and container size were developed to appeal to
a broader customer base. It represented an aspirational purchase, to
appease the desire for a taste of exclusivity in those who found the
cost of the larger bottle prohibitive.
The bottle, over
decades, has itself become an identifiable cultural artifact, so much
so that Andy Warhol chose to commemorate its iconic status in the
mid-1980s with his pop art, silk-screen, Ads: Chanel.
Ernest Beaux was
born in Moscow, Russia, the brother of Edouard Beaux, who worked for
Alphonse Rallet & Co. of Moscow, then the foremost Russian
perfume house and purveyor to the Imperial courts. In 1898, A. Rallet
and Company, with approximately 1500 employees and 675 products, was
sold to the French perfume house, Chiris of La Bocca.
Ernest completed his
primary education that same year, and from 1898–1900 apprenticed as
laboratory technician in the soap works of Rallet. After his
obligatory two years of military service in France, he returned to
Moscow in 1902, where he started his perfumery training at Rallet
under the guidance of their technical director, A. Lemercier. He
finished his perfumery education in 1907, earned a promotion to
senior perfumer, and was elected to the board of directors.
In 1912 Russia
celebrated the centennial of the Battle of Borodino, the turning
point in Napoleon's Russian ambitions. For this celebration Ernest
Beaux created the fragrance "Bouquet de Napoleon," a floral
Eau de Cologne, for Rallet. It proved to be a major commercial
The following year,
1913, marked the tercentenary of the founding of the Romanov dynasty.
To follow up on his "Bouquet de Napoleon" success, Ernest
Beaux created a now lost fragrance, the "Bouquet de Catherine",
honoring Catherine the Great. This fragrance is not to be confused
with a fragrance from Brocard, Rallet's chief competitor in Russia
called "The Empress's Favorite Bouquet", which later
evolved into the Soviet version, "Red Moscow."
Bouquet de Catherine
was not a marketing success, perhaps due to Catherine the Great's
German heritage at a time of rising tensions between Russia and
Germany which would lead, in 1914, to World War I. While born and
raised in Russia, Ernest Beaux's French heritage brought him into the
French army. While it was generally expected that this war would last
no more than a few months, he was not released from military service
until 1919, having by this time seen service in the infantry fighting
against Germany and then as an intelligence officer and interrogator
at an Allied prison camp at the Kola Peninsula at the Murmansk Oblast
during the Russian Civil War.
While serving in the
French military, Ernest Beaux's perfumer colleagues at Rallet fled
during Russia's October Revolution to La Bocca, France, to continue
working with Chiris.In 1919 Ernest Beaux, released now from the army,
settled in Paris but continued to have a relationship with the former
Rallet employees at La Boca.
Chanel No. 5
In 1912, Ernest
Beaux married Iraïde de Schoenaich (1881-1961), who gave birth
to their son, Edouard[ (1913-1993), the following year. During the
Russian Civil War, Iraïde escaped from Russia through Finland with
her infant son. They reached France by sea following a dangerous
two-month-long voyage, during which time Iraïde fell deeply in love
with another man. Ernest divorced her and took custody of their son,
while Iraïde moved to Nice to work with her lover. Ernest later
married Yvonne Girodon (1893-1980), with whom he had a daughter,
Coco Chanel and the
At that time, Joseph
Robert was the chief perfumer at Chiris. With little prospect of
being promoted under him, Ernest Beaux tried to use his contacts to
the emigrated Russian nobility to get new projects. In 1920, with the
help of the Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich of Russia (1891–1941), a
companion of Coco Chanel (1883–1971), he arranged a meeting in
Cannes late in the summer of 1920, where he presented his current and
former works to Mlle. Chanel. Chanel chose the "No. 5" as a
Christmas present for her best clients. When Ernest Beaux asked her
how she wanted to name that scent, she replied: "I always launch
my collection on the 5th day of the 5th months, so the number 5 seems
to bring me luck – therefore, I will name it 'Nº 5'".
Initially only 100
flacons of Chanel Nº 5 were produced, which she gave away on
Christmas 1921 for free to her best clients. However, soon the demand
was such that she decided to launch the perfume officially for sale
in her shops in 1922. That year she also launched a second fragrance
from the two numbered series of bottles that Beaux had presented her,
which were numbered one through five, and twenty through twenty-four:
Chanel Nº 22, the bottle no. 22 from the second series. However,
since this didn't do as well as Nº 5, it was withdrawn and only
relaunched in 1926.
Ernest Beaux left
Chiris in 1922 to head a sales agency for his friend Eugene Charabot
in Paris. However, Chanel Nº 5 did so well that Bader and
Wertheimer, owners of Galeries Lafayette, bought the rights to it
from Coco Chanel on April 4, 1924, and founded Parfums Chanel, for
which they hired Ernest Beaux as chief perfumer. In his new function
Ernest Beaux created many famous perfumes until he retired in 1954;
his successor as chief perfumer of Perfumes Chanel was Henri Robert.
was born in Venice on April 8, 1880, into the wealthy and cultured
Jewish Grassini family. Her father Amedeo was a fiscal attorney for
the Venetian government and an intimate friend of the anti-socialist
Giuseppe Cardinal Sarto (1835–1914), later Pope Pius X (1903–1914).
Like his father, Marco Grassini, he became a Knight of the Crown of
Italy. Margherita’s mother was Emma Levi and one of her cousins,
Giuseppe Levi (the father of Natalia Ginzburg), eventually became a
major proponent of the anti-fascist movement in Turin. Margherita was
the fourth and last child in the family. Her sister Colomba (Lina)
committed suicide in 1907 after being widowed and her other sister,
Nella, perished together with her husband on the way to Auschwitz in
1944. The family lived in an impressive fifteenth-century palazzo on
the edge of Venice’s Old Ghetto until 1894, when they moved to the
imposing Palazzo Bembo on the Grand Canal.
educated by private tutors, among them Antonio Fradeletto
(1858–1930), the founding director of the Venice Biennale. During
her childhood, she began to be interested in art and poetry,
influenced by Fradeletto, who introduced her to the theories of John
Ruskin. One of her admirers persuaded her to read the works of Karl
Marx and other socialist theoreticians, which caused a scandal in her
family. In 1898, despite her father’s objections, she married
Cesare Sarfatti (1867–1924), a Jewish lawyer from Padua, who was
thirteen years her senior and whom she persuaded to join the
Socialist Party. During their honeymoon in Paris she made her first
purchase of Post-Impressionist art when she bought a set of
lithographs and posters by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. On October 15,
1902, the couple moved to Milan, where they lived in an apartment
situated on Via Brera. At this stage her major interests were the
history of art and politics. Later Margherita Sarfatti began to write
on feminism and on the most prominent artists of the time. In Milan
she was introduced to Gabriele D’Annunzio (1863–1938), an old
friend of her husband, met Filippo Turati (1857–1932) and Anna
Kulischoff and became an intimate friend of Luigi Majino and his wife
Ersilia, the president of the Feminist League of Milan. She gave
birth to two sons, Roberto (1900–1918) and Amedeo (b. 1902). With
the death of her father in 1908, Sarfatti came into a large
inheritance, which enabled the family to move to a large apartment on
Corso Venezia in Milan and to purchase a country home near Lake Como.
In 1909 she began her Wednesday-evening salon, where she entertained
the major Italian intellectuals and artists. When the Futurist
Movement first appeared, Sarfatti’s salon began to be a regular
setting for encounters between Filippo Tommaso Marinetti (1876–1944,
the founder of the Futurist movement), Carlo Carrà (1881–1966),
Umberto Boccioni (1882–1916) and Luigi Russolo (1885–1947). The
Sarfattis spent their holidays at their Como home, Il Soldo (The
Penny), where they opened their salon to well-known people such as
the poet Ada Negri (1870–1945) as well as to their Milan
acquaintances. In 1909 Sarfatti became art critic of the daily
newspaper Avanti! and in the same year gave birth to her daughter
Fiammetta. In 1912, when Anna Kulischoff started La difesa delle
lavoratrici (Women Workers’ Defense), Margherita Sarfatti wrote
articles in support of the publication and provided financial
support. On December 1, 1912, Mussolini became the manager of
Avanti!. A deep friendship between the two soon developed into a love
relationship, which was apparently tolerated by Cesare Sarfatti, but
not by Rachele Mussolini.
In October and
November 1914, Mussolini adopted an interventionist position. He
resigned as editor of Avanti!, joined with pro-war leftists outside
the Socialist Party and launched a new socialist newspaper, Il Popolo
d’Italia (People of Italy). The Socialist Party leadership viewed
these acts as a betrayal and expelled him from the party. With the
outbreak of World War I Roberto, Sarfatti’s older son, ran off to
join the army, although he was under age. Though he was at first sent
home, he enlisted legally at the age of seventeen, joining the elite
Alpini mountain troops and was sent to the front in July 1917. On
January 28, 1918, he was killed in battle while leading an attack on
the Austrian front lines and was posthumously awarded Italy’s
highest military honor. In 1921 Sarfatti published I vivi e l’ombra,
a compilation of elegiac poetry commemorating her son.
At the end of the
war, Sarfatti too was expelled from the Socialist Party because of
her interventionism. Thereupon she began to work for and collaborate
with Popolo d’Italia, the official newspaper of the fascist regime,
but also wrote articles for the Turin newspaper La Stampa and for
Gerarchia, a revue of political theory edited by Eloisa Foà. After
1922 she became the manager of this revue. Meanwhile she strengthened
her liaison with Mussolini. At a public meeting on March 25 in the
Piazza San Sepolcro in Rome, Margherita was at Mussolini’s side.
Although formally their relationship remained secret, since both were
married, Sarfatti began to collaborate in Mussolini’s writing and
even prepared the plan of the march on Rome in late October 1922.
Indeed, she was so close to Mussolini that she can be described as
one of the planners of Fascism.
In 1924, when her
husband died, Sarfatti moved to Rome, where she held her salon on
Friday afternoons. In 1925 she published a personal memoir and
biography of Il Duce, The Life of Benito Mussolini, in an English
edition. Mondadori published the biography in Italian in 1926 under
the title Dux. The book was translated into seventeen languages. In
1925 she was engaged as a vice-president of the Exposition des arts
decoratifs in Paris, a task which won her the Legion of Honor. In
1926 she was a theoretician and a leading force of the first
exhibition of the Italian Novecento, the opening of which was
attended by the Duce himself. In 1927, in Rome, she organized an
exhibit of the Dieci artisti del Novecento italiano, in the framework
of the Esposizione degli Amatori e Cultori. Towards the end of the
1920s she espoused the evolution of Fascism, with its heroic rhetoric
and strict discipline. In the 1930s she openly combined the Novecento
movement with the aggressive passion and renewal from which the
Fascist Redemptive Action (Opera redentrice del Fascismo) eventually
emerged. In 1931 she was often attacked by the revue Regime Fascista
but tenaciously sustained the role played by the Novecento group in
the diffusion of Italian art abroad. Margherita Sarfatti was one of
the protagonists of Italian political and intellectual debate in the
age of Giovanni Giolitti (1842–1928).
Towards the end of
1926 Sarfatti moved to Via Rasella in Rome and when Mussolini moved
to Villa Torlona in 1928 Margherita Sarfatti, together with her
daughter Fiammetta, moved to live in close proximity to the Duce’s
residence. That same year she converted to Catholicism. Despite her
lover’s anti-Zionist and antisemitic unsigned writings in
newspapers and journals she claimed that there was no “Jewish
question” in Italy and declared that Mussolini would never follow
Hitler’s antisemitic policies. On July 14, 1938, “The Manifesto
of the Race” appeared in the Roman daily Il giornale d’Italia.
Composed primarily by Mussolini himself, this document condemned the
corruption of the Italian Aryan race through intermarriage with Jews.
that, despite her conversion to Catholicism, she was not immune to
the antisemitic laws passed in 1938. After her son Amedeo left Italy
for Argentina in 1938, Sarfatti followed him, first traveling to
Switzerland to deposit Mussolini’s letters in a safe place. In
Argentina she continued to be involved in art criticism but did not
meet with the same success as she had enjoyed in Italy.
Returning to Italy
at the end of 1947, she continued to write, publishing an
unapologetic memoir, Acqua Passata, in 1955. She died at her Il Soldo
residence on October 30, 1961.
Jewish Lover Who Crafted Italian Fascism Margherita
Sarfatti wasn’t just the dictator's most erudite paramour; she was
his secret adviser and ideologue. The English version of her memoirs
is finally out.
My Fault: Mussolini
As I Knew Him, by Margherita Grassini Sarfatti, Enigma Books, 323
On November 14,
1938, shortly after the Italian Racial Laws were passed, Margherita
Sarfatti slipped out of her home near Lake Como, got into her car and
asked her chauffeur to drive her to the nearby Swiss border.
the few belongings the Jewish socialite and art critic had stuck in
her two suitcases were 1,272 letters she had received from Benito
Mussolini over their 20-year romantic and ideological relationship —
a sort of insurance policy. Sarfatti, 58 at the time, would return to
Italy only in 1947 after living in exile in France, Argentina and
In addition to art essays she wrote for local
newspapers during her exile, Sarfatti published in 1945, shortly
after Mussolini’s death, a series of articles in the Argentine
paper Crítica in which she revealed details about her relationship
with Il Duce. Scholars believe she waited until he no longer had the
chance to harm the family members she had left behind in Rome.
70 years later, these articles have been published in the
English-language book “My Fault: Mussolini As I Knew Him.” Dubbed
by Enigma as “the unpublished memoir of Mussolini’s longtime
lover,” the book’s 18 chapters come edited and annotated by
historian Brian R. Sullivan, whose commentary is informed by three
decades of research in Italy, France, Switzerland, Britain and the
Just as the story of the long, intimate
relationship between Sarfatti and Mussolini lay forgotten in archives
for years until Philip V. Cannistraro and Sullivan published their
1993 work “Il Duce’s Other Woman,” Sarfatti’s memoirs
remained abandoned in the shadows of history for decades.
Sarfatti wasn’t just one of Mussolini’s hundreds of lovers. The
aristocratic, intellectual and ambitious wife of wealthy Zionist
lawyer Cesare Sarfatti, and mother of their three children, did not
only share her bed with Il Duce. She also helped him forge and
implement the fascist idea; she contributed advice — and Sullivan
says, money — to help organize the 1922 March on Rome in which
Mussolini seized power.
During those 20 years she was his
eminence grise and unofficial ambassador, glorifying him in her 1925
biography that was translated into 18 languages.
Il Duce's many
It was Clara Petacci who has gone down in history as
Mussolini’s most famous lover. In April 1945, Italian partisans
shot her and Il Duce and hung their bodies upside down in Milan’s
Piazzale Loreto. But after their intense 20-year personal and
political relationship, Sarfatti was apparently the one who knew him
best — maybe even better than his lawful wife, Rachele Guidi.
the cover of Margherita Sarfatti's book
Sarfatti had shown each other their souls,” Sullivan writes in the
book’s long introduction. “She had listened to his secrets …
she knew most everything about Mussolini’s hidden weaknesses, his
human frailties, his crude behavior, his superstitions, his ignorant
misunderstandings about so many scientific and medical matters, and
about his syphilis.”
But according to Sullivan, as much as
Mussolini feared that Sarfatti would expose details on their sex
life, he feared even more that she would reveal other shortcomings —
and destroy the demigod image he had worked so hard to
Although Sarfatti’s 1955 Italian-language
autobiography “Acqua Passata” (“Water Under the Bridge”) does
not mention her relationship with Il Duce, her memoirs make up for
it. She recounts a raft of personal and political anecdotes, provides
quotes from Mussolini and talks about his sex addiction and cocaine
use. But she never slides into bedroom gossip.
descriptions Mussolini comes across as a brilliant, charismatic
statesman — but also an egocentric one ridden by inferiority
complexes, fears and superstitions. He was also an unbridled
womanizer, not to mention a manipulator who didn’t hesitate in his
youth to threaten suicide in a letter to his mother “if she failed
to send him some money for food.”
Sarfatti, meanwhile, comes
across as a haughty, self-confident woman who often boasts of her
good judgment, intuition and wisdom in both political and personal
Despite the book’s title “My Fault,” chosen by
Sarfatti decades ago for the memoirs, she expresses no regret over
her relationship with Mussolini, who was responsible for the deaths
of her sister and brother-in-law on their way to Auschwitz, the
destruction of Italian democracy and the establishment of a
dictatorship. On the contrary, Sarfatti evades responsibility,
putting all the blame on Mussolini.
Pesky Pact of Steel
maintains that fascism began as a positive idea that was distorted
over the years. She claims that even Mussolini underwent a complete
change. “After less than a decade in power, Mussolini seemed to me
to have become someone else,” she writes. “He began to deny even
the right to interior freedom and to subject the very souls of his
people to the power of the state.”
As Sarfatti puts it,
Mussolini’s alliance with Nazi Germany, which she opposed, was the
main cause of his downfall. “But the Duce did not form the
Rome–Berlin Axis or the Pact of Steel with the Führer by accident.
Mussolini harbored within him a number of defects that attracted him
to the Germans of his time. Thus he succumbed to the illness of
power, to the madness of the Caesars.”
About one matter,
though, she does accept the blame. “I cannot hide behind my work as
an art critic. I must accept my responsibilities. I believed in
Fascism and fought for it in the beginnings,” she writes.
I wrote a book read by many that interpreted the goals of Fascism in
a favorable light and proclaimed to the entire world that Mussolini
was a hero of historic proportions. That was my fault .... It is my
duty to declare that Mussolini fell because of his complete moral
Lamenting the failure of her “final, desperate
attempt to guide Mussolini,” she adds: “Meanwhile, we discovered
that behind the mask of Fascism lay an abyss of corruption, nepotism,
favoritism and arbitrary lawlessness.”
Like most Italians,
Sarfatti saw Mussolini as the embodiment of the “good tyrant,”
adding that she had hoped he would turn out wiser, more level-headed
and more just than the leaders produced by the ballot box.
lambastes Sarfatti’s attempt to put all the blame on Il Duce. He
writes that since it was Sarfatti, more than Mussolini, who crafted
the ideological and philosophical basis of fascism between 1913 and
1919, she can’t evade responsibility for what others did based on
her views. He adds that the original manuscript contains inaccuracies
and spelling mistakes.
In his copious comments and remarks —
often more comprehensive than the original text — Sullivan contends
that after Sarfatti fled Italy, she agreed with Mussolini not to
reveal details about their relationship. In exchange, no harm would
befall her family still in Rome, among them her daughter Fiametta,
her son-in-law and their three children.
But history lost out,
Sullivan concludes, in that the book was not published in the late
1940s. Sarfatti possessed priceless photographs, letters and
documents in Mussolini’s own hand.
“At least some of that
historically precious material might have become available to
scholars over sixty years ago,” Sullivan writes. “Instead, it
passed into the possession of Sarfatti’s heirs after her death.
They have refused permission to anyone to study those valuable
records. Indeed, they have consistently denied their very existence.
One can only hope they will have a change of mind.”
Duce and His Women by Roberto Olla – review
Sex was at the
centre of the Italian dictator's image
In 1919 Benito
Mussolini, an obscure political agitator, assembled a ragbag of
black-shirted followers in Milan, and launched the political movement
that was to become, two years later, the National Fascist party. The
party took its name from the classical Roman symbol of authority –
an axe bound in rods, or fasces. Part idealist, part buffoon,
Mussolini dreamed of a second Roman empire for Italy, and dominion
over the Mediterranean. Occasionally he liked to wear a richly
tasselled fez and would pose for the cameras, thrusting out his chin
pugnaciously. He introduced the stiff-armed Roman salute,
disapproving of the handshake as fey and unhygienic. As Mussolini's
regime strengthened, the high priests of fascism began to hail their
leader as "divine Caesar", and adopted the passo romano,
the Latin goosestep, in parades. Behind the bombast, however, Italian
fascism relied on bludgeons, intimidation and, according to Roberto
Olla, Mussolini's vainglorious sexual antics and boastfulness.
Olla, an Italian
writer and TV journalist, provides an absorbing account of
Mussolini's self-proclaimed manful potency and "animal allure".
In the course of his life, he had relations with hundreds of women,
perhaps "as many as 400". The women were brusquely mauled
by him under his desk or on mattress-like cushions installed for the
purpose. Towards the end of his 23-year-dicatorship, facing defeat,
he became addicted to a German-manufactured aphrodisiac pill
trade-marked Hormovin. Taking this prototype Viagra was a "political
act", says Olla, as it served to prolong the myth of the Duce as
one who never flagged. Undeniably, sex was at the centre of the myth
of Mussolini and his image as a man of power. Yet Mussolini's
sexuality has been "ignored" by historians as being
unworthy of study. In Il Duce and His Women, Olla remedies the
deficiency, and gives us a portrait of Mussolini in all his priapic
foolery – and occasional daring.
notorious mistress, Claretta Petacci, saw a "god-like potency"
and "bull-like" magnetism in her idol. A doctor's daughter,
she began to court Mussolini in 1932 and before long, bouts of
"savage, ardent sex" routinely occurred in his headquarters
at Palazzo Venezia in Rome. Mussolini was by then married with five
children, yet the more women he had, the more he felt puffed out with
a sense of his own rank and self-importance. Petacci's diaries, first
published in Italy in 2009 as Mussolini segreto ("Secret
Mussolini"), are amply quoted by Olla. In spite of her adoring
pillow talk ("Anchor yourself in me, my great and glorious
ship"), Petacci has much to say about Mussolini's inner life,
personality and politics. He forbade his daughter from marrying a
Jew, yet one of his mistresses, Margherita Sarfatti, was Jewish.
Sarfatti, a rather "overlooked character", according to
Olla, exerted a stronger influence on the dictator than is generally
She first met
Mussolini in 1912, and was one of the masterminds behind fascism's
pompous celebration of ancient Rome. The eagle motifs and suckling
she-wolves visible today on fascist architecture in Italy are partly
Sarfatti's legacy. Her bestselling 1926 biography of Mussolini, Dux,
exalted the leader as a sacred manifestation of romanità
("Romanness") and the noble Italian race. Yet her name was
dirt once Mussolini had committed Italy to Nazi Germany's antisemitic
cause. A racial dogma that glorified blond northerners of course
conflicted somewhat with the Mediterranean cult of romanità. Yet a
latent tension had always existed between fascism and Italian Jews.
Zionists, in particular, were seen by Mussolini as a self-regarding,
supranational sect inimical to the sturdy Blackshirt. "They
should mind their own business," Mussolini told Petacci while
sunbathing with her one day in Rome. "They are carogne
[carrion], cowards." While Sarfatti managed to escape
Nazi-occupied Italy, her sister Nella and her husband died on a
transport bound for Auschwitz.
To Petacci, Hitler
was unappealingly furtive and rat-like beside her grandly uniformed
Dux, whose smouldering, lantern-jawed features were said to radiate a
sense of physical daring – ardimento – and the very masculine
fascist soul. Other women were no less impressed. Ida Dalser went so
far as to sell her beauty salon in order to raise funds for
Mussolini. In time, she became the mother of Mussolini's first-born
son and, it seems, married the dictator. Years later, after Mussolini
had cynically discarded her, Dalser accused him of cowardice and
dereliction of duty. Enraged, Mussolini confined Dalser to a mental
home, where, shortly before Christmas 1937, she died.
ends that momentous year of 1937, when Mussolini paid his disastrous
official visit to Nazi Germany. Having invaded Abyssinia (now
Ethiopia) two years earlier, the dictator decided to hitch his
carnival chariot to Hitler's funeral hearse, and a last chance for
peace in Europe was lost. Olla has read widely into the cult of
ducismo, and writes illuminatingly of his subject. Ultimately, his
psycho-sexual study asserts the dangers of blind adherence to
ideology. In April 1945, with Italy's defeat now certain, Mussolini
was executed by anti-fascists and his body strung up alongside that
of the starry-eyed Claretta Petacci in Milan, not far from the site
where, 26 years earlier, the fascist movement had been launched.
• Ian Thomson's
Primo Levi: A Biography is published by Vintage.
publish Oliver Preston's funny skiing cards, shooting books, and
funny birthday cards. His drawings regularly appear in a wide range
of publications from The Field to The Polo Magazine and have been
published In Country Life, Punch, The Spectator and national
His work is
beautifully drawn, and make very funny gifts. With a keen eye for
social observation, Oliver Preston's books are predominantly based on
country themes and modern day life.
When the leaves
begin to go that lovely shade of russet
and linen turns to
tweed, you know those long afternoons of strawberries and buzzing
bees are coming to a close. Thoughts turn to log fires, lamb’s wool
jumpers and finding out that your wellington boots now have more
holes in them than your colander. Let Uncle Bernard and Aunt Agatha
steer you through the social minefield that is the winter ‘season’.
Failing this, have a read and a good laugh.
The spectacle of a
line of guns eagerly awaiting their first drive of the season is one
that lifts the spirit and starts the heart racing just that little
bit faster. The shoot day brings great sport, superb food and drink,
but is beset with potential conundrums.
Should I take the
dog? (Aunt Agatha) If your hound is well disposed to the canine
rabble, and able to maintain silence in the din, then positively yes,
you should. Pinching the last rasher off the shoot breakfast table or
licking the butter however is somewhat ill-thought of.
Who don’t I tip?
(Uncle Bernard) When getting ready for the day this is often
forgotten and yet it is so very important; nothing says thank you
quite as much as ‘silent money’, so slip your notes in an
envelope and take the time to remember it. It is generally considered
poor form to tip the hostess, the gardener is, again, not necessarily
someone to include unless you are feeling very modern, and tipping
your host may leave everyone confused. However, almost
deserves to be tipped – Loaders, Keepers, Gun Cleaners (?!), Cook
and the House Keeper. How much? This is discretionary, but it is
recommended to follow the form from the other guns, it’s generally
ill-thought of to ask the host ‘how much old fruit?’!
The Grouse Moor
(UB) Shooting Grouse
is quite something and bravo to you for getting on the moor.
Remember, barrels in the air at all times and above you when turning;
guests losing body parts to over-enthusiastic marksmanship is
generally thought poor form. Focus, focus, focus – it can be a long
time from start of the drive to when the birds come out and early in
the season, they are likely to be gunning straight for you, later-on
the squadrons tend to be more wily and evasive, so keep your wits
about you. Celebratory ‘whoops’ at hitting a bird are also
slightly frowned upon, unless you are wearing a ten gallon hat.
Cigars are best lit at the end of the day.
Does my butt look
good in this?
What to wear. Grouse
days can be balmy affairs; lighter clothing is often required, and
field coats can be thrown off in gay abandon. An important question
to ask when choosing your colour scheme for the day is “will the
birds notice me?”, under other circumstances one may hope for a
resounding “why yes!”, but not on a Grouse Moor. Cream background
tattersalls and bright jumpers are a sure fire way of bringing
attention to yourself. Look to the moors for inspiration; a Cordings
Grouse Shirt is perfect, its subtle hues
and easy movement
give you the best chance of success, team with a Shooting Waistcoat
and Breeks in Firley Check, for a smart, practical ensemble.
The pheasant and
(AA) Considered by
some to be a dinner party with shotguns, the partridge and pheasant
season heralds a switch from dipping, driving and diving fowl to
screaming long-tailed squawkers. Coupled with the old chirruping
hedge hopper, the lowland game season begins proper with the first
splash of ‘bullshot’ on the kitchen tiles. Form is not quite as
rigid as on the predominately northern or Hebridean estates but it is
nonetheless, important to observe the unspoken rules. ‘Duvet-ing’
your host with a bird in front of him at mediocre distance is
regarded mildly irritating, pinching a plum sporting bird above your
host’s peg is akin to flirting outrageously with the hostess. Best
to avoid that. Counting the birds you hit loudly and declaring you
are ‘winning’ generally gains few admirers, eye-wiping your
neighbour has mixed blessings. Weather conditions will dictate how
you dress for the day, but you cannot go wrong with a pair of
Cordings house check plus twos and smart shooting stockings.
When to drink, what
(AA) Now we are
talking dear; generally best to do this after the shoot. Lunch time
tipples are of course acceptable but avoid too much vin rouge, how
about a glass of the indomitable Pol Roger Brut Reserve? To go
left-field, maybe a splendid glass of Josmeyer Alsace Pinot Blanc
‘Mise du Printemps’?
When the whistle on
the last drive blows, the bag has been declared glorious in its
limited and beautiful way, you can begin to make your declarations of
thanks and dash to draw the bath. Should a pre-prandial be on offer,
possibly a glass of Pol Roger Brut Vintage (terrifically fresh with
beautiful acidity and delightful fruit) this will help keep your
conversations sparkling. Throughout dinner you will be offered (we
are sure) a cornucopia of liquid refreshment, pick wisely and be
Port is an excellent
way to finish as is Hine Cognac Antique XO (cherry brandy again,
often well swerved), to keep the senses perky. When your host yawns
and declares your nickname ‘Bingo’ (last one out) it’s time to
drink up and head for bed.
Off the peg, on the
peg: what to wear?
Standing on a peg,
buffeted by rain, in temperatures that would make penguins think
twice about going outside for a stroll, is an exhilarating
experience; but only if you are correctly attired. Stout boots,
shooting stockings and breeks (or trews, now making a first-rate come
back in the field) take care of your lower portions, whilst layering
with lambswool, fleece and a Field Coat will take care of the rest.
Always wear a tie, as a mark of respect for your quarry, but also
because there are so many splendid examples to be had at Cordings,
emblazoned with Pheasants, Grouse and even the odd Snipe.
“When going out in
the field never forget the practical issues of comfort, warmth and
ease of movement”
Guide to the Country
Should I engage with
the local at the bar?
(UB) Often the best
path here is to gauge your quarry; be polite and don’t insult the
décor or food unless you are the owner or never intend to go back.
permissible in a coaching inn?
(AA) Whilst this may
be akin to asking for Lager at an Ale brewery, cocktails are a fine
thing, and we recommend the Horse’s Neck (‘H’ by Hine and
Ginger Ale) or Whisky & ice (Single- Malt and Ice remarkably
enough – a fine Kilchoman Machir Bay, could be just the ticket)…but
a cautionary tale, anything involving blue liquor or crème de menthe
is often best avoided for safety’s sake. Generally stick to the
‘taps’, or if you are feeling adventurous, why not try a glass of
‘roulette’ house wine?
To wellie or not to
(UB) A much pondered
musing, if it’s sodden and you
are worried about
your loafers, go wellie in the pub but be prepared in some gentrified
establishments to take them off if asked. A hole-y sock in the
country is acceptable,
no-socks (or ‘going
sock-less’ in the south) courts suspicion and your personal hygiene
may be called into question. Your choice of wellie is significant,
but we shan’t go into that here.
Amuse bouche? What
about a little something from the chef? (UB) Chance your arm, the
chef may take the challenge. However pork scratchings or assorted
nuts may be the most enticing offering. Perhaps time for an aperitif?
21 YO Glenfarclas Single Malt Whisky, full bodied rich and with
rounded flavours , goes perfectly with pork scratchings.
How to cut a
sartorial swath in the snug: what to wear?
Remember: in the
country, colour in the trouser department is to be applauded and
considered sensible; one can never be too loud. Jeans that make ones
underwear visible, leather trousers (unless you are in possession of
a motor cycle) and jogging bottoms with logos emblazoned on your
posterior, will certainly get the attention of the local population,
but not in a good way.
“One has to always
question where to park the glass on the bar top, near to the wearer
of the fur and suede dangling sleeves or the rat-catcher trousers,
it’s always a delicate balance of the shove and shuffle to get to
the bar let alone the order. Make your order firm and precise with
the barkeep, never let your guarddown and judge the offer of a
pickled egg wisely”
(Owner and founder,
The Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club and West Country resident)
What to do if you
don’t like horses?
thought of as not the place to be if you are either in fear of, or
underwhelmed by, the horse. However grin and bear it, focus on the
port, sherry and general back slapping. Look for the person milling
around with a champagne bottle and ask if they happen to know ‘what
their wine tastes like?’
(UB) If new to ‘the
Meet’, it’s generally considered bad form to wear hunt buttons
even if through patrimony, often best to go plain and get the advice
of each hunt’s MFH (Master of the Fox Hounds). Turning up in a
hunting pink and blowing your own horn (so to speak) may end in an
ignominious dressing down from the seniors members.
(AA) ‘What a fine
looking beast, jumped much?’ (only about a horse) – ‘looking
fairly hard out there, do you think you’ll go on past 1st horses?’
/ ‘Hounds sound in good voice’ ad nauseum.
Stirrup cup of
(AA) Stay clear of
home brew, focus on your drive home or walk to lunch and go for an
elegant tipple, maybe a sip of vintage Cognac? Domaines Hine Bonneuil
2005 for instance….smooth and discerning. You’ll feel warm and
possibly ‘smug’ at the decision.
‘Standing to’ at
(AA) Tweed coats,
sensible wellies and a jolly smile will often be the uniform of
choice for those waiting to cheer
the gallop and hear
the cry of the hounds. Have a large pocket in the coat for a hip
flask and don’t forget the woolly hat (bobble optional).
“The meet is a
wonderfully diverse gathering of folk from all walks of life. There
is a real buzz of anticipation and excitement of the day ahead. Dress
appropriately and put a sandwich in your pocket for later in the day.
Meets are very family friendly so do take children, and even better
if you can get out on horse!”
Day Event Rider, part of Team GBR, ChampagnePol Roger and Cordings of
Piccadilly Brand Ambassador)
The Point to Point
(UB) You’ll need a
capable vehicle should things turn inclement. The Point to Point
circuit is not a place to impress the King’s Road set; turning up
in your two-seater complete with stilettos might be over-gunning it.
So we suggest the long wheel base Land Rover because nothing says
failure like the obligatory ‘tractor tow’. Extra house points can
be given for negotiating a RWD German car through the bog, in suede
information abounds – do not be caught short, brace yourself and by
jove, if it looks hopeless hit the local hostelry, order the best
steak and kidney pudding and a large glass of red (a hearty cabernet
like a Staglin Family Vineyard 2008 from the Napa valley, California
would suit the occasion). Consider yourself well out of it as the
stalwarts try to look cheery in the biblical deluge.
Correct picnic form?
(AA) No one
obviously opens their boot without a proper bottle of fizz – Pol
Roger Brut Reserve slung in a (probably useless or over-full) cool
bag, is a real boon to keep the spirits high! The food at these
events has in the past dampened the spirits: a greying Scotch egg,
the forlorn chicken sandwich, the obligatory ‘explode in the
container before you get there’ soup and home-made sausage roll
used to be the order of the day, …..but thankfully Waitrose has
changed all of these slightly trying stalwarts; roasted vegetable
antipasti options? Sundried tomatoes? Samosas? It’s a veritable
cornucopia of finger food. We suggest soup (optional sherry to be
added to the consommé) and cheese straws….it could be a long day
Pint to pint? What
(AA) Beer is a
particular favourite amongst hardened pointers, as is wine, Maison
Joseph Drouhin Savigny les Beaune for a refreshing pinot noir and
maybe a delightful bottle of Crown Estates Tokaji 5 puttonyas 2000.
The Tokaji pairs exquisitely with a rich paté or even foie gras,
should one want to push the boat out. And for the obligatory nip from
bottle or hip flask, Glenfarclas Single Malt Whisky 15YO wins every
time. Don’t forget the corkscrew and proper glasses.
A short course on
what to wear?
This being Britain,
the answer to this could be as divergent as a linen shirt, chinos and
loafers, or Schoffel interactive coat, waterproof trousers and
“What I love most
about point-to-pointing is that however professional the jockeys and
trainers have become, it’s still a proper old-fashioned country
sport run by hunting people with a great friendly atmosphere
where the weather –
rain, howling gales, spring sunshine
– is all part of
it. For this reason, I especially love the west-country meetings,
which are timeless. I belong to the Plantation Farm Picnic Syndicate
and, as you might have guessed it’s (nearly) all about the picnic –
and the fizz when we win!”
Is this a covert
(AA) Yes it is!
There is nowhere a covert coat feels more at home than jostling
amongst the crowds, the dun colour was after all originally designed
to cope with horse hair and the occasional splattering of mud and
still stay immaculate. Team with a tweed suit and trilby and you have
the ultimate Cheltenham kit. Shiny office suits are
becoming prevalent and are more to be pitied than censured. For the
ladies, a smart tweed ensemble, topped with a splendid fur hat will
cut a dash. Lurid pink prom style dresses, worn with ‘dead parrot’
style fascinators are best avoided as they have a habit of
frightening the jockeys who are, through years of careful breeding, a
highly strung sort.
Should I bring the
(UB) Yes just make
sure it is correctly attired, little dogs in handbags are a little,
Chelsea, not Cheltenham.
(AA) You want dry
feet? Wellingtons and sturdy boots are the way forward, plus you can
drink out of them later if you lose your glass.
Who am I likely to
(AA) The ladies and
gentlemen of the jump racing community, a smattering of West Country
royalty, corporate guests, persons from across the water and lots and
lots of splendid red trousers.
Carriage of choice?
(UB) Train, taxi or
chauffeur – to drive would make this a very dull day indeed.
Champagne or cider?
Either really but
try not to drink out
of your trilby. We
do think a nice glass of Pol Roger Brut Vintage 2006 tastes terrific
at 9am, on auspicious occasions such as this.
“Cheltenham is the
highlight of the National Hunt season and brings absolutely
everything to the table. The horses are the elite from England,
Ireland and France and the world’s best jockeys, along with the
most sporting crowd that any event can put together. To many this is
an annual pilgrimage and, to all of us, the pinnacle four days of
(3 times Champion NH
trainer and trainer of 47 winners at the Cheltenham Festival)
Which car park
should I head to?
(UB) Well, if you’re
not in the west car park let’s just say it is a bad old day.
Where should I be
aiming to sit?
(AA) Mid-tier east
or west stand, somewhere close to facilities, and gone are the days
of bringing your own tipple, it’s a pint of the black stuff or
maybe a tepid GnT for you my dears! You are there for stirring rugby
anyway…best not to blur the lines during the match.
Form on chat with
(UB) You’ll want
to discuss England’s latest midfield worries, the demise of the
scrum and a return to off-field discipline. Avoid someone wearing a
football shirt for fear of being proffered advice on your choice of
sport. You’ll know who to look for; beginning a salvo with ‘my
dear old thing…’ should see you through.
(AA)If you insist
dear, although best to stick to Pol Roger Brut Reserve.
Tweed, Wax or padded
All three are
eminently suitable, accessorise with a generous glass of red wine and
gingham table cloth. Wellies are wholly acceptable whereas loafers
will do you no credit here, stout walking boots or sturdy brogues
with thick socks are just the ticket.
“Don’t be afraid
to go very casual - you’ll be surrounded by men in badly fitting
jeans and jumpers decorated with dog hairs. It’s all about comfort.
Do a bit of reading beforehand so you have half a clue who the key
players are and what’s going on. Buy the headphones so you can hear
what the ref is saying - that way you’ll be the only person who
knows why a penalty is being given. Arrive early and leave late. The
car parks are where the party is at.”
avid Rugby fan)
The Christmas house
Which host should
you pass the booze to?
(AA) If you want to
see it drunk on the day/evening, the hostess, if you want to hear
about it drunk that night, privately, your host…
How to eat the
cocktail sausage elegantly?
(UB) Attack the
entrée with real verve, grab it and positively shove it in….avoid
conversation while macerating and take a moment to savour.
When to leave?
(AA) When the
hostess is bellowing ‘whose taxi is outside….’ or ‘right
then, who’s for washing up…?’. Watching for signs is quite
easy, the minute the decent wines are down to the sediment, or the
port has been spilled, it’s time to head for the highway.
Lunchtime drinks –
(UB) Avoid the Gin
and Tonic in favour of a Drouhin-Vaudon Chablis, and Robert Sinskey
Vineyard’s Pinot Noir from Los Carneros for a red is a real winner!
Cote du Nuit is more of a supper sip. Manzanilla is a positively
inspired choice to accompany salted almonds and olives.
How to avoid the
slightly-odd Uncle Bernard?
(AA) Make pains to
suggest you know very little about cricket or the latest on Syria,
declare an interest in popular music and the latest streaming service
devoid of a decanter at home and that you have never heard of Wilbur
Smith. Above all stay away from the drinks trolley – wait for it to
come to you. This should save you hours of your life.
The Christmas jumper
However ironic your
are, do not succumb
to knitted garments with the following motifs: Snowmen, Father
Christmas, Elves or Baubles, and if anyone approaches you wearing a
garment emblazoned with any of the above (we can include ties in
this), move very quickly towards the drinks trolley (see note above
ref Uncle Bernard). Lambswool V necks found downstairs in Cordings of
Piccadilly (and now Harrogate) in festive colours, and smart Fair
Isles, are the order of the day, giving the message ‘I am a fun
chap or lady, who has not lost their sense of style/ marbles’.
are in my experience exclusively worn by ordinarily sane adults who
stupidly believe that Christmas is an excuse to look like, behave
like and sound like a 6 year old with OCD. Knitwear is a tricky
enough issue without burdening it with aesthetic IEDs like appliquéd
snowmen. Revolt against the revolting and plump for some lambswool”
Since 1839 Cordings
have clothed explorers, rock stars and royalty in understated British
clothing, all from our iconic store in Piccadilly. With timeless
cuts, traditional cloths and painstaking attention to detail creating
an enduring elegance that is never out of style.
London W1J 0LA
Harrogate HG1 2RN
Champagne Pol Roger
has been producing exceptional champagne for over 165 years. To this
day the house remains small, family-owned, fiercely independent and
unrivalled in its reputation for quality. Pol Roger Portfolio was
founded in 1990 by the Pol Roger family, to establish its own
subsidiary in Great Britain, the premier export market for Pol Roger
Champagne. Since 1990 Pol Roger Portfolio has grown to include a
select number of first class wines and spirits from family owned
houses; Crown Estates, Glenfarclas, Hine, Joseph Drouhin,
Drouhin-Vaudon, Josmeyer, Kilchoman, Robert Sinskey, Staglin Family,
Abreu and Dalla Valle.
Oliver grew up in
London and the Cotswolds and from an early age developed a love of
cartoons and caricature through the books of H M Bateman, Thelwell,
Tintin and Charles Addams. As a child and at school Oliver drew
extensively. He is completely self taught. After Eton College, where
he won the Gunther Graphics Prize for Art, Oliver attended Exeter
University, and then spent ten years working in the City of London,
latterly as a director of bond sales at Lehman Brothers.
However he saw the
light in 1995 and left the City to become a full-time cartoonist and
illustrator. His early cartoons were published in Punch Magazine, The
Beano, The Dandy and The Spectator, and since 1995, Oliver has been
the regular cartoonist for The Field Magazine.
His funny cartoons
have also appeared in Cotswold Life, The Polo Magazine and Country
Life amongst others, and he has contributed to The Times, The
Guardian, The Daily Mail and The Independent newspapers.
With a keen eye for
social observation, his cartoons are beautifully drawn with a very
individual style. The situations are very close to people’s
everyday lives, and there is often a splattering of languid lovelies,
dilettantes and doting dogs. Oliver has developed a wide following,
especially for his shooting and skiing cartoons, and drawings that
depict the quirkiness of British town and country life.
He has held one man
shows at The Fine Art Society in Bond Street (1999), The Addison Ross
Gallery, London (1990), The Mall Galleries, London, (2014) and
regularly at the Gstaad Palace in Switzerland.
He has also produced
fifteen funny books of his cartoons, which can also be purchased as
limited edition prints, and as funny birthday cards. His latest
books, "The Imperfect Shot" and "Lively Limericks"
are on sale now for Christmas 2015.
Oliver returned to
Gloucestershire in 1998 and over the next fifteen years, he has
developed a loyal customer base, working for a diversity of clients,
on caricature commissions, christmas cards, cartoon invitations, and
Preston’s funny cards are published by Beverston Press which ships
to trade and retail customers around the globe. You can see more
Lucie Aubrac, who
has died aged 94, was one of the legendary figures of the French
resistance, so famous that in 1997 her story was made into a
colourfully romantic film in which she was played by the actor Carole
Bouquet. The movie recounted how Lucie tricked the Gestapo and
organised a daring raid to free her husband, Raymond, from
imprisonment at the hands of the Germans.
A few weeks later,
however, the journalist Gérard Chauvy published a book documenting
inconsistencies in Lucie's account of her life, insinuating that
Raymond, far from being a resistance hero, might have been a German
informer. From being resistance legends, the couple found themselves
mired in one of those controversies that has punctuated the memory of
France's dark years of wartime occupation.
Born into a modest
family of Burgundy winegrowers, Lucie Bernard, a brilliant student,
obtained in 1938 the agrégation in history - the most prestigious
higher degree in France. On the eve of the second world war, she
began teaching history at a school in Strasbourg. This was a period
of great political conflict in France, and during the 1930s she had
become an active supporter of the Communist party, which, like others
of her generation, she saw as the most effective bulwark against
fascism. In December 1939, she married Raymond Samuel, a young
engineer who was also a committed communist.
After the defeat of
France in 1940, Lucie resumed teaching at a school in the unoccupied
zone in Lyon. That autumn, she met in a cafe Emmanuel d'Astier de la
Vigerie, one of those hoping to organise resistance to the German
occupation. It was out of such chance encounters that the first
resistance groups were formed. Lucie and Raymond became founding
leaders of d'Astier's organisation, Libération-Sud, which was to
become one of the most important resistance movements in France.
There were many women involved in resistance, but relatively few in
such prominent positions. This alone would have marked Lucie out as
an exceptional individual.
For the first two
years of the war, she and Raymond continued their professional
occupations - she as a teacher, he as an engineer - while also living
double lives as resistance organisers under various pseudonyms.
(After the war, they officially adopted as their new name Raymond's
resistance alias, "Aubrac"). In May 1941 Lucie gave birth
to her first child, Jean-Pierre. So she was living a triple existence
as teacher, mother and resister; as she wrote in her memoirs, being
the mother of a baby was an excellent cover to divert suspicion from
the Germans, and at one meeting between her husband and General de
Gaulle's envoy, Jean Moulin, in a Lyon public garden, her presence
with her baby boy proved particularly useful.
At the end of 1942,
the Germans occupied the whole of France and Lyon became the
headquarters of the notorious Gestapo chief, Klaus Barbie. In March
1943 Raymond was arrested. It seems, however, that the Germans and
Vichy authorities thought they had only caught a small-time black
marketeer, and he was released in May, after Lucie intervened with
the local Vichy public prosecutor. Then, on June 21 1943, Raymond was
arrested again, along with Moulin himself, at a top level meeting of
resisters in a doctor's surgery in the Lyon district of Caluire.
It did not take the
Germans long to work out the identities of Moulin and most of the
others they had captured. Moulin was horribly tortured and
transferred to Paris, where he died. Meanwhile, Raymond was held in
the Montluc prison, in Lyon, and beaten up. Lucie mounted an
extraordinary scheme to release him. Pregnant again, she presented
herself to the Gestapo, claiming to be the recently engaged fiancée
of someone she believed to be called "Ermelin", one of
Raymond's aliases, who, she claimed, had been innocently caught up in
the raid while visiting the doctor. When told that her "fiancé"
was a resister who was to be executed, she begged to be allowed to
save her honour and legitimise her expected child by marrying him
under a French legal clause which allowed an engaged couple to wed if
one of them is about to die. The Gestapo lieutenant swallowed her
story, and on the day Raymond was being transferred back from Gestapo
headquarters to prison after the "marriage", armed
resisters attacked the lorry and freed him and 15 other prisoners.
Lucie and Raymond
went into hiding until a plane could take them to London, where they
arrived in February 1944. Their second child, Catherine, was born a
few days later. On March 20 1944, De Gaulle's provisional government
announced that once France was liberated, women would - for the first
time - be given the vote. In anticipation of this, and before
elections could occur, the general had appointed a consultative
assembly, which Lucie joined as a resistance representative. She thus
became the first woman ever to sit in a French parliamentary
In 1945, once the
war was over, she published a short history of the resistance - the
first to appear - and then returned to teaching. In retirement, she
saw it as her duty to ensure that the memory of the resistance lived
on in the memories of younger generations of French men and women,
and she would regularly visit schools to provide her own testimony as
survivor and historian.
This is how Lucie's
life might have ended had she and Raymond not been catapulted into
controversy in 1983 after Barbie's extradition from Bolivia to stand
trial in France. Before his trial, Barbie let it be known that he
would reveal new facts about the resistance, including the claim that
after his first arrest Raymond had turned informer and betrayed
Moulin. The allegations never came to anything, but were troubling
enough for Lucie to write her own memory of the affair (translated
into English as Outwitting the Gestapo).
After Barbie's death
in 1990, however, a document - the so-called Testament of Barbie -
began circulating in newspaper offices and repeating the allegations
about Aubrac. It was also at this point that Chauvy produced his
book. Although distancing itself from Barbie's more extreme
accusations, Chauvy's work was based on genuine archival material,
and its overall effect was to cast a cloud of suspicion over the
veracity of Lucie's account.
resistance survivors published a protest letter, but the Aubracs were
deeply upset by the book, and asked to be given a chance to explain
themselves before a panel of leading French historians. The newspaper
Libération organised a discussion between the historians and the
But what had been
intended by the Aubracs as a way of clearing their name turned into
an acrimonious exchange in which they found themselves almost on
trial. None of the historians accepted the idea that Raymond had been
an informer, but they noted inconsistencies and contradictions in the
various versions Lucie had given over the years. There were oddities
in the case which have never been entirely elucidated: what were the
exact circumstances of Raymond's first release from prison?; why was
he the only resister arrested at Caluire not to have been moved to
Paris (thus making it possible for Lucie to save him)?
The arrest of
Moulin, in which the Aubracs were caught up, was the greatest drama
of the resistance. And the Aubrac affair of the 1990s reminded people
that, apart from the cases of betrayal that provide rich fodder for
conspiracy theorists, the resistance was also plagued by internal
conflicts of ideology and personalities. The fact that the Aubracs
remained communist sympathisers long after the end of the war may
have had something to do with the attacks on them.
In exasperation, at
one point, Lucie protested that her memoirs - written 40 years after
the events, when she was in her 70s - could not be expected to be
accurate in every detail: she said she had been writing her story,
not history. To which the historians present could only reply that
their job was to write history, even if it meant unpicking the
stories people wished to tell.
The tragedy of the
situation was that Lucie, herself a historian and historical actor,
was at the end of her life caught between the conflicting imperatives
of historical truth and legendary memory. None of which detracts from
the fact that, whatever happened in Lyon in the summer of 1943, she
was a woman of great courage, character and energy, one of the last
survivors of a generation that, between 1940 and 1945, helped to save
the honour of France. Raymond and her three children survive her.
· Lucie Aubrac,
teacher and resistance leader, born June 29 1912; died March 14 2007
Lucie Aubrac: The French Resistance Heroine Who Outwitted the Gestapo by Siân Rees
In May 1943, a young
Frenchwoman called Lucie Aubrac engineered the escape of her husband,
Raymond, from the clutches of Klaus Barbie, the feared Gestapo chief
later known as the "Butcher of Lyon." When Raymond was
arrested again that June, Lucie mounted a second astonishing rescue,
ambushing the prison van that was transporting him. As a founding
member and leader of the important French Resistance group
Liberation-Sud, Lucie served as a courier, arms carrier, and saboteur
who engineered these and other escape plans on behalf of her husband
and other Resistance fighters.
Spirited out of
France with Raymond by the RAF, Lucie arrived in London a heroine.
For the postwar generation the couple embodied the spirit of "the
real France": the one that resisted, and eventually expelled the
Nazis. However, in 1983, Kalus Barbie made the bombshell claim that
the Aubracs had become informers in 1943, betraying their comrades.
The French press and the couple themselves furiously denounced this
as slander, but as worrying inconsistencies were spotted in Lucie's
story, doubts emerged that have never quite gone away.
Who was Lucie
Aubrac? What did she really do in 1943? And was she truly the spirit
of la vraie France, or a woman who could not resist casting herself
as a heroine? Siân Rees’s penetrating, even-handed account draws
from letters, newspaper articles, and other archival materials, as
well as several interviews, to decipher the truth behind Lucie and
her husband's wartime endeavors and near fall from grace. It offers a
thrilling portrait of a brave, resourceful woman who went to
extraordinary lengths for love and country.
Lucie and Raymond
Aubrac, who died in 2007 and 2012 respectively, are revered in
France, more than seventy years after they risked their lives to
thwart their Nazi occupiers. This valiant couple, who fled their
homeland in 1944, arrived in London when Lucie was eight months
pregnant with their second child. In 1943, the Gestapo captured
Raymond Samuel (who had adopted the alias Aubrac). Obersturmführer
Klaus Barbie, the infamous "Butcher of Lyon," might have
executed Raymond had Lucie not hatched an audacious plan to free her
Siân Rees, in
"Lucie Aubrac," focuses on the political and social climate
in France under Field Marshal Philippe Pétain's Vichy government. In
opposition to Pétain's puppet regime, competing groups sprang up,
all determined to resist the German juggernaut. Two of their most
energetic and outspoken leaders were Lucie and Raymond, who hid in
plain sight while helping organize the various factions into an
effective force. Lucie was politically engaged, took risks when she
believed they were warranted, and firmly embraced the values of
social justice, tolerance, and pacifism. She was instrumental in
creating and distributing an underground newspaper and played a key
role in rescuing detainees from "internment camps, military
prisons, and police cells." Lucie and Raymond's home was "both
a political headquarters and a safe house for people on the run."
Rees puts Lucie's
life, before, during, and after the Second World War, in historical
context. Especially galling are the outrages perpetrated by the Vichy
government, whose functionaries actively participated in the
deportation of thousands of Jews to concentration camps. The author
also discusses other important resistance figures, such as Emmanuel
d'Astier and Jean Moulin, some of whom paid the ultimate price for
their selflessness. Lucie Aubrac (she and Raymond adopted the name
"Aubrac" legally in 1950) was not a saint. Some of her
acquaintances considered her to be impetuous and overly excitable. In
addition, she embellished the truth when it suited her, perhaps in an
attempt to make her tales more interesting and entertaining. "Lucie
Aubrac" drags at times, especially in the lengthy section
dealing with the Aubracs' postwar activities. Overall, however, this
is an intriguing and informative portrait of a compassionate and
independent woman. Although she could have emigrated to America,
Lucie chose to remain in France during its "Dark Years."
Freedom fighter such as Lucie and Raymond "upheld French honor
at a bleak time in their country's history."