Thursday, February 10, 2005

Mark Vestey

At Home..

It felt like in Old Times Thurloe Square. Pleasant chat in the language equivalent to Mozartian clarity: the English spoken by less than 1% of the English-speaking population. Neither the pseudo-toff sort, when the greediness for status can be spotted, nor the arrogant supercilious variation of Academia (with long black gowns and, at times, funny hats) but the effortless U-English spoken with grace. The Liverpool-born Vestey Empire was, at the turn of the century, quite a case study example of a global business. Catlle, abattoirs, refrigeration, merchant fleet - all was world-wide. The managers of that business were doing "globalization" stuff long before the concept became such a cliché.. An Englishman who likes his Port and has been visiting Brazil regularly for decades but has never set foot in Lisbon. Reminds one of unpleasant realities. Like the fact HM's Government elevated the status of HM's Diplomatic Mission in Rio de Janeiro to full Embassy before it did to their 400 years old ally. Oh, yes...They had already an Ambassador in Rio while in Lisbon a Minister would still do for.. Leelooh was happy, as she was spoken to like an equal, as Englishmen do towards adolescent children, in a dinner context, at least.. The food was great. Black caviar, which travelled safely through the squalid controls at Sheremetevo, with small home-made pancakes and Prince Dolgoruki triple-distilled vodka. Traditional Uzbek pilau rice (they call it "Plof") with a 14.5º Alentejo red.. The Russkaya cooked it all and pulled it off with flying colours. Tastes and stories from three empires. British, Russian, Portuguese. Now, that could have been a globalized empire... But what do we have in common?... Defeating Napoleon?

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