Programming note: If you missed "New York, New York", my third song selection in our brand new audio Song of the Week on the UK's Serenade Radio, don't miss this Sunday's music pick: it airs at 5.30pm London time (right after Sing Something Simple), which is 12.30pm Eastern/9.30am Pacific, making it a Sunday brunchy kind of show in the Americas.
Antipodean listeners may find the Monday morning repeat at 5.30am UK a more convivial time. In addition, Serenade has now added a third airing of the show - 9pm London time every Thursday. And wherever you are on the planet you can listen to it by clicking on the button in the top right-hand corner here.
~And, with that, welcome to Part Eighteen of our ongoing serialization of Mark Steyn's Passing Parade. Today's episode features a son and a wife. The latter took a somewhat somnolent family business to its height of influence; the former found the family business closed to him. So Romano Mussolini, the bottom having dropped out of the dictating industry in Italy, pursued a career in jazz piano instead:
If you were making a movie of his life, it'd be a cinch: the young man finds in wild improvisatory American jazz all the freedom he's been denied by his oppressive Fascist background. In fact, if you asked him, Romano Mussolini would cheerfully concede he agreed with 'ninety per cent' of his father's policies, and, apropos the murkier ten per cent, there weren't many other Fascist scions who could plead in mitigation that some of their best session players were Jewish. In the last couple of years, he began turning out coffee-table books about Daddy that proved big sellers. Alessandra Mussolini, his daughter by his first wife (Sophia Loren's sister), went into politics in the nineties and, though dismissed as a pleasingly underdressed slice of neo-Fascist cheesecake, has become a player in Italian coalition-building
As I recount, I got to meet Romano Mussolini. I had absolutely zero chance of getting anywhere near Kay Graham, la grande dame of The Washington Post, and landing an invite to her famous Georgetown dinner parties. So instead I have some sport with the drooling eulogies of America's pitiful press corps, groveling past the graveside. And, if one unpacks (as I note even "conservative" talk-show hosts now say) Mrs Graham's philosophy of "mass with class", one understands why the US media's snobbery has proved such an effective enabler for wokery.
If you're a member of The Mark Steyn Club you can hear Part Eighteen of our serialization of Mark Steyn's Passing Parade simply by clicking here and logging-in. All previous episodes can be found here.
~Thank you for all your kind comments about this series. Among the many interesting observations on last week's episode about the 11th Duke of Devonshire and his sister-in-law Diana Mosley was this from First Week Founding Member Owen Morgan:
The British country house, exemplified by the Devonshires' Chatsworth, is a uniquely British contribution to civilisation. There is nothing quite like it anywhere else. Oliver Cromwell put the castle concept definitively out of business with his artillery and engineers. A generation later, Dutch financiers taught England how to do accounts properly and, all of a sudden, the rich in Britain were seriously rich and paying men like Vanbrugh, Hawksmoor, or, later, Capability Brown, to alter the landscape for them.
You don't get that in France, or in Russia, where the grandees were corralled respectively (with disastrous consequences) into Versailles, or St Petersburg. The great French châteaux were always royal ones, such as Chenonceaux and Chambord. There is no aristocratic architecture in France to match Chatsworth.
I know a fair few French châteaux (a somewhat promiscuously applied term) and, making allowances for the virulent destruction of "aristocratic architecture" in sleepy villages far from Paris during the revolutionary years, I think Owen has a point.
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And do join me next weekend for the nineteenth episode of Mark Steyn's Passing Parade.