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By the late Nineties, we had become a more visual nation. Big-money taste moved to global standards - new architecture, design and show-off contemporary art. The Sloane domestic aesthetic - symmetry, class symbolism and brown furniture - became as unfashionable as it had been hot in the early Eighties.
In the 1940s, cigarettes would be shown in classy situations, endorsed by celebrities - real A-list Hollywood stars in America - the ads would make claims about tobacco quality or manufacturing science and, bizarrely, some brands had what almost amounted to health claims.
One should never learn from one's mistakes. Making the same mistakes, over and over again, is a source of unremitting pleasure.
Rock and roll is the hamburger that ate the world.
Rock And Roll
Chandeliers are marvels of drop-dead showiness, the jewellery of architecture.
Eponymous brands aren't that popular with analysts and investors now. You can only take an eponymous brand with a living figurehead so far, they argue. What happens when they grow old and die? What happens when they misbehave and go seriously off-brand?
Kate Middleton's a pretty girl who sounds nice.
Like lots of baby boomers, I was brought up on archaic anthropomorphism. Upstanding Christian dogs. Rabbits with family values. Because the ancient texts and pictures were sacred - Potter, Milne and the rest. Even concerned parents who knew Freud and Jung never saw the contradictions in feeding us on them.
There was a time when formal clothes were one of life's great pleasures, as well as a way of describing instantly a man's status wealth. Toffs wore the most, the proles the least. Fast forward to 2008 and clothes are still an unrivalled pleasure but some men - and this includes many of our betters - have confused status with fake informality.
In the future, people will blame the Eighties for all societal ills in the same way that people have previously blamed the Sixties. The various Thatcherite Big Bangs - monetarism, deregulation, libertarianism - have been working their way through the culture ever since.
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Girls like Diana Spencer, armed with nothing more than a guinea-pig-rearing certificate, proud to say in that old Sloane way that she was 'as thick as two short planks,' became the exception as girls from Benenden and Downe House started to fast-track towards the City and law, consultancy, media and the arts.
If beauty isn't genius it usually signals at least a high level of animal cunning.
George Bush is by American standards rabidly Upper Class - Eastern, Socially Attractive, WASP, 19th-century money, several generations of Andover and Yale (and, while we're at it, his father, George H. W. 'Poppy' Bush, was a former president and his grandfather was the Nazis' U.S. banker in the 1930s).
In London - and forget those extra public pressures on politicians - the lovely old Sloane world of manor houses simply hasn't cut it since Big Bang in 1986, the point at which Mrs. Thatcher really started to achieve her ambition to make this country more like America - its ambition, economy, it's very tangible measures of success.
London clubland divides itself between the St James's refuge for toffs, and the Conquest of Cool, for the arts and media.
Real writers - serious writers with serious subjects, who earn their living at it - all seem to write in small rooms with that knotty-pine 1974 look on the top-floor rear of their houses. Rooms with views.
It's just as well that I write in the same facile way wherever I am - no blocks or anguish, no contemplation, no elaborate revision, no need for love-tokens or nice views.
The old process of social assimilation used to be mainly about English new money - generated in London, the mucky, brassy North or the colonies - buying those houses and restoring them, and doing the three-generation thing, mouldering into the landscape, and the 'community,' identifying with the place in a familiar way.
Global new money has houses everywhere, and serious helicopters, it doesn't aspire to the Miss Marple life of St. Mary Mead.
Imagine a State occasion where the Queen is wearing trainers with her tiara because she thinks it will make people like her better, more folksy. It's unthinkable. But that's patently the thought process Gordon Brown (or his spin doctor) went through before the Prime Minister appeared on the world stage in Beijing without his suit and tie.
For me, wearing a tie is a pleasure, a recherche one but a pleasure nonetheless. You could say that I'm avoiding tie avoidance. My own gorgeous collection runs into hundreds and I buy them the way I buy books - I simply can't pass a shop. I have loved them since I could spend my own money on them.
Men turn to formal wear when they want a new job or when they think their current one is in danger. They try to present themselves as powerful and successful.
Advertising has always been a huge unrecognised source of outdoor relief for the arts.
I can remember when anything further downtown New York than Canal Street was risky and the whole area still looked like a '70s cop movie location; when the original loft-owners were more dash-than-cash, artistic types.
Selling scent is a key job for celebrities. At any one time, there'll be hundreds of them at it, going on the world's talk shows, doing photo-shoots, providing employment for thousands. Celebrities are instant brands.
I cling to the basic set of tenets laid out in Tom Wolfe's 'New Journalism' - to get out there like the great French novelists of the 19th century and study life. I am a Tom Wolfe fan of the first order.
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