It may be my imagination, but a new book about the chicer-than-chic Nicolson clan seems to arrive every four months or so. Literary London can't get enough of them. This morning I was halfway through a Daily Telegraph review of a biography of Harold N (husband of Vita Sackville-West) when I found myself wondering why on earth I was bothering. Have I ever cared about any of these people? Not really. But then my eye fell on a couple of paragraphs towards the end of the piece (not on-line just yet). So I persevered. I'm glad I did:

"I loathe and hate every minute of this Election," wrote Harold, whose reluctance to woo the voters in the first place was matched by his resentment at having to spend time in his Leicestershire constituency. What he liked was networking in the House of Commons and hobnobbing with the great, but his desire to be an MP never overcame his feelings for the electorate. "I don't like the masses in the flesh. My God! It is dispiriting to canvass these dumb idiots."

His basically Left-wing sympathies were perpetually betrayed by illiberal gut instincts. He never modified his contempt for foreigners, or the visceral anti-Semitism that dictated his view of his son's publishing partner, the "filthy Jew" George Weidenfeld. He had trouble, even in his seventies, eating off plates handled by black waiters.

Want more on this member of the Great and the Good? Turn to John Gross's Sunday Telegraph review:

His attitude to Jews was complicated – he greatly admired the Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann, he helped a number of refugees from Nazism – but he also gave vent to some appalling anti-Semitism. Having listened to a speech by the then Lord Mayor of London, Sir Bernard Waley-Cohen, in 1961, he commented in his diary, "Such a Jew you never saw; he arouses my sympathy for Eichmann."

|||Clive|||http://clivedavis.blogspot.com/2005/02/class-act-it-may-be-my-imagination-but.html|||2/12/2005 05:57:00 pm|||||||||