12 hours ago
Sunday, November 29, 2009
john julius norwich-A Christmas Cracker
Few Americans are aware of the erudite John Julius Norwich, 2ND Lord Norwich, only child of the British diplomat, notorious philanderer and war hero Duff Cooper and his wife, Lady Diana Cooper, the most desired hostess in between the wars England.
John has lived a fabled life, rich from exposure to most everyone of importance in the 20Th century, he's a well educated and enthusiastic raconteur, brought up since birth to provide "good value for money". Self described as "shallow", he is a most charming man.
Following Oxford he followed his father's career in the foreign service. Retired after a dozen years and took to writing, mostly histories, and editing. Later had an active television career, mostly in documentaries and is a well known speaker and preservationist in the UK.
For the past 40 years he has kept a journal of favorite little poems, odd definitions, strange anecdotes and curious correspondence. Since 1980, instead of sending Christmas cards, John has printed selections of his findings and mailed them to anxiously awaiting friends. Every 10 years they are collected and printed by Penguin.
My favorite are these two entries.
From Hoare's "Short Italian Dictionary, Cambridge, 1964
Baffona: f: Woman with not unpleasing moustache.
and this description of the Opera Carmen:(click photo to enlarge)