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A champagne cavalier
on 27 March 2015
Duff Cooper was a well connected man who grew up in the early years of the 20th century. Until well after the end of the First World War his chief ambition was to have a good time. He drank enough champagne to float a very big boat and pursued the opposite sex with great determination. He visited prostitutes.
He married Lady Diana Manners,ostensibly the daughter of the Duke of Rutland but really the daughter of someone else. She had a reputation for beauty, although the black and white photography of the time does not do her justice.
She was Duff's No 1, although this did not stop Duff 'making love' to other women. When he says 'making love', I think he means showering with compliments as a part of his effort to get women into bed. At the age of 25 he says he'd only slept with prostitutes and married women, who seem to have been easier game.He went on doing this.
He knew everybody of consequence, and was a talented politician, writer and indeed soldier.He was independent-minded, and resigned over Munich. I was interested to see that he was on good terms with Hore-Belisha.
The early years of WW2 are missed, but 1944-1947 is dealt with in great detail. He was a good ambassador to France at a very tricky time.
When Labour took over in 1945 they wisely retained him. All the governmental people ate like pigs and drank like fish, to the detriment of their health. Ordinary folk had rationing which kept them healthier. After retirement Duff still had about 450 bottles of champagne in his cellar.
He and his wife had servants and lived the high life. They and their friends were the celebrities of the day.
Duff could be humorous, immoral,kind, snobbish,liked animals(although he liked shooting birds) and seems to have been one of life's cavaliers.
Today his lifestyle would be acceptable in a pop star but not in a politician. Attitudes were different then.
This is a riveting book and a marvellous account of the life of the privileged classes in the first half of the 20th century.