Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Audrey Hepburn

YLONGOs and Non-Governmental Spleen..

Almost perfect facial bone-structure...

Friday evening we all end up in the “Blue Bar”, a trendy spot where one can spend the “transición”, the difficult and ambiguous period between dinner-time and club-land. (The Right Honourable Reader has not failed to notice the irony of using the same term that in this country represents the transitional period between Franco’s regime and no-strings-attached-Democracy. Let us carry ourselves away at this splendid metaphor. Is the formality of a dinner, stiffed guests around a table, something resembling the conservative and authoritarian Franquista Spain? Is Western-style consumer-friendly Democracy a kind of everything-goes-night at an hip-hop & druggy stuff club? “La Transición” was then indeed something in between, similar to an informal but still subdued atmosphere of a post-dinner bar? End of metaphor).

The “Blue Bar” is where the thirtysomethings belonging to A+ and A sociological strata of Madrid happened to have installed their tent for the time being. For the nomadic life of the Golden “Treintañeros” today’s trendy spot where all caravans converge is just tomorrow’s abandoned outpost. How can this blogger of yours affirm the Caravanserai status for this particular bar? Easy, pizzy.. It passed the Duchess’s Son Test. If that particular Grande of Spain is there (hélas!.. as much treintañero as this blogger of yours..) the place can legitimately claim the “fashionable” label.

I had just asked a whisky from a safe brand (meaning that the risk of next morning’s hangover due to creative beverage manufacturing is relatively low). In a side wall, the glowing square of a TV plasma screen where one was unexpectedly met by the exquisite bone-structure of Ms Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s". Starting enjoying my drink, I remember that Audrey dear was at some point in her life a Goodwill Ambassador, on behalf of UNESCO, I think. A good example, I decide, of that peculiar hybrid of personal chic and non-governmental duties. In fact, I mumble to myself, my dinner companions are AudreyHepburns themselves. After the second gulp of iced and soda-ed Irish whiskey I make up my mind to blog about it.

Who was there at that pleasant off-Velazquez dinner who could be resolutely described as an YLONGO (Young Lady Of Non-Governmental Organization)? For reasons of sex,... sorry, of gender (one cannot be too sexually correct in these current times), I’ll have to exclude Brusskholm, the giant Viking with indeed some features of a PHD in Engineering. I’ll have to exclude MediumAndRare too. He manages “Marie-Henry Beyle”, a nice red and black restaurant, the one in fact where I proposed to Malinka. Off the list dear old Phyl too, the young architect working at the new wing of Prado Museum thanks to whom I got close to an original but perfect plan to rob “Las Meninas” through a hole on the floor. The fourth male guest whose perfect English also betrayed some non-Spaniard DNA was not into charity work, as far as I can remember. Let us consider now the female attendants to that outdoors warmnightish dinner of spleen. What about the Hostess, BlondeLou? Of course! She has almost completed her own self-process of audreyhepburnization. She still works for Government, although in those border-areas involved in aid to development and sustained cooperation where one never knows who is NGO and who’s GNGO (Governmental “Non-Governmental Organization”). She has the chic, the charm, the fashion sense of a very suitable marriage prospect plus the humanitarian instincts, the curiosity towards other cultures and the feminist drive that constitutes the proper mix of a good Audreyhepburnesque activist. What about BeatrixPotter? A financial adviser interested in expanding her clients’ fortunes cannot, by definition, enrol as charity worker... Or could she? An expert fund-raiser perhaps? Malinka, I also see as too tough to be an YLONGO. More likely to defend the cause of a polluting plant generating substantial employment than defending a environmentally-correct scheme with few jobs down the line. And that brings me to AlighieriMuse, the 100% YLONGO present at the dinner. Effortless elegance and MotherTeresian willingness to do good… perfect diction of difficult African family names… missionary humbleness with here and there sparks of toff frivolity.

We had, AlighieriMuse and me, a serious debate about this all-expanding business of NGO activity. Large morsels of Governmental responsibilities are now out-sourced to charities (.. and why do you think Hamas and other Islamists win elections?..) or to NGOs. The old proverb about teaching an aborigene how to fish rather than granting him a fish comes to everybody’s minds. We cannot ignore tragic primary needs though. And so YLONGOS will have a bright future for many years to come.. But still.. How many of them aren’t secretly dreaming of breakfasting at Tiffany’s?

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