“I’ve been collecting stories that are told in the Soviet Union, by their people, among themselves, which reveal they’ve got a great sense of humour but they’ve also got a pretty cynical attitude toward their system… I didn’t tell this one to Gorbachev.
You know there’s a ten year delay in the Soviet Union of the delivery of an automobile, and only one out of seven families in the Soviet Union own automobiles. There’s a ten year wait. And you go through quite a process when you’re ready to buy, and then you put up the money in advance. And this happened to a fella, and this is their story, that they tell, this joke, that this man, he laid down his money, and then the fella that was in charge, said, ‘Okay, come back in ten years to get your car.’ And he said, ‘Morning or afternoon?’ and the fella behind the counter said, ‘Ten years from now, what difference does it make?’ and he said, ‘Well, the plumber’s coming in the morning.'”
Ronald Reagan, Speech to Reynolds Metal Company Employees, March 28, 1988, Richmond, Virginia
Bravo’s Real Housewives franchise is renowned for its cutaway shots; lizards scurrying across a pristine white dock in Miami; the cotton candy sunset over the Pacific Ocean; Sarah Ferguson’s erstwhile financial adviser cavorting in a polka-dot scarf.
In 1992, the separated Duchess of York vacationed in St. Tropez with her “financial adviser” and boyfriend John Bryan, a man she would later refer to as “the binge that cost me most dear.” The poolside photographs of their vacation caused a worldwide sensation and led to Fergie’s banishment from the royal family. “Can’t you just see it?” Bryan later asked the writer Elizabeth Kaye. “Can you imagine, being with your mother-in-law over breakfast of kippers and kedegree and those picture come out and she’s the Queen of Fucking England?”
Bryan reveled in his notoriety, attending The Best awards in Paris and participating in a profile in Esquire magazine. Those halcyon days ended in 1995, when Bryan’s international construction and development corporation Oceonics Group PLC collapsed owing £10 million.
A creature of the pre-Internet era, Bryan re-invented himself in his native land. Now based in Los Angeles, Bryan is the CEO of The Watley Group, which specializes in corporate restructuring and turnaround services. He is married to a Belgian violinist named Astrid, whose 2009 rock/violin album Astrid Taking Over was released by Watley Recordings.
In 2011, Bryan and his wife attended Pandora Vanderpump’s engagement party. Pandora is the daughter of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills cast member Lisa Vanderpump–guests signed release forms and the party was featured on Season 2. As fellow housewife Kyle Richards showed off at her reality-TV-friend’s daughter’s Arabian nights-themed engagement party, a beaming Bryan carefully positioned himself in every shot.
The gangster Meyer Lansky was known at “the Mob’s accountant.” Lewis Rosenstiel was a business tycoon whose lifelong involvement with the mob was established by the New York State Legislative Committee on Crime. Rosenstiel’s fourth wife Susan recalled a dinner party they hosted in honour of Lansky to the writer Anthony Summers. Her recollections were published in Summers’ wonderful biography The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover.
“I had two butlers, double service, with Mouton-Rothschild to drink. The butlers were trained always to have white towels around the bottles so my husband couldn’t see it wasn’t one of his champagnes. And we had this marvelous dinner. I was using my beautiful gold dinner service that had belonged to Queen Marie of Romania. They ate the dessert and then the butlers brought the little finger bowls, with little flowers in them. And some of them thought at first it was an extra dessert. Meyer Lansky went to taste it and hurt his teeth on the bowl.
Then we went upstairs to the sitting room and Lansky said, ‘Can’t I have a decent cup of coffee?’ He had, you know, just a little demitasse. My husband thought himself quite a pianist, and he said to these men, ‘Well, boys, what would you like to hear me play?’ They said, ‘Play anything.’ So he did, and when he finished he said to Lansky, ‘Meyer, what do you think I was playing, what composition?’ I think Lansky had only heard of Beethoven, so he said Beethoven. And Rosenthiel laughed, and he said, ‘You goddamn son of a bitch, I composed that myself.’ They all had to applaud.”
The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover, Anthony Summers, Ebury Press, 2011.
The actress Leah Remini was sent to Scientology’s headquarters in Clearwater, Florida for three or four months of “reprogramming” due to her “horrible behavior” at Tom Cruise’s wedding to Katie Holmes. Her infractions at the ceremony in Italy included being loud, rude, switching seats at the reception, and upgrading her hotel room. Her intensive sessions lasted from 9 in the morning till 10 at night. At the conclusion of her time in Florida, she sent a letter of apology to Scientology’s leader, David Miscavige.
“September 17, 2007
I am at Flag getting on to OT-7. I am doing an ethics on handling and I wanted to apologize to you and your team.
I acted like a complete idiot at the wedding last November. I want to apologize to you as a friend but I also wanted to apologize to you as a Scientologist. For me to have added anything other than help and support was a complete Hats Not Wearing on my part.
Of course I have looked at my own out-ethics and my own purposes on this cycle and I want you to know this type of activity will never occur again.
I admire you for all you have done for our group and you are such an example. I thank you with all of my heart.
Hat, noun: A post or job. “She’s wearing the Ethics Hat now.”
Hat, verb: To train for a post or job. “He is fully Hatted as the MAA.”
- Godliness, cleanliness and punctuality are the necessities of a good business.
- This firm has reduced the hours of work, and the clerical staff will now only have to be present between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.
- Daily prayers will be held each morning in the main office. The clerical staff will be present.
- Clothing must be of a sober nature. The clerical staff will not disport themselves in rainment of bright colour.
- Overshoes and top coats may not be worn in the office but neck scarves and headwear may be worn in inclement weather.
- A stove is provided for the benefit of the clerical staff. Coal and wood must be kept in the locker. It is recommended that each member of the clerical staff bring 4lb. of coal each day during cold weather.
- No member of the clerical staff may leave the room without permission from Mr Rogers. The calls of nature are permitted and clerical staff may use the garden behind the second gate. This area must be kept in good order.
- No talking is allowed during business hours.
- The craving for tobacco, wines, or spirits is a human weakness and as such is forbidden to all members of the clerical staff.
- Now that the hours of business have been drastically reduced the partaking of food is allowed between 11:30 a.m. and noon, but work will not on any account cease.
- Members of the clerical staff will provide their own pens
A document dated 1852, quoted in Victoria’s Heyday, by J.B. Priestly, William Heinemann, 1972.