Saturday, October 3, 2009

OPINION: Would I Have Liked Lord Lucan?

By William Coles

A number of people have asked me what Lord Lucan was actually like; would I have liked him? Well I used to think that I would have got on with quite well. But the devil, as always, is in the detail.

From all the stories, and the books about him, not to mention the pictures, the 7th Earl of Lucan looks like a bit of a rake. Very cool and aloof, puffing away on his cigarettes; certainly a man who was aware of his position in society. Going a bit to seed as well, and even though he was only 39 when he disappeared, looking a bit flabby. And, without a doubt, he was a man's man. He loved the company of men, I suppose because he understood them much better than he did women, who were always something of a mystery to him.

He loved his wine and his food, his motorboats and his winter-sports - and, of course, his games. So, if he felt that you were smart enough to be admitted into his exclusive circle of friendship, then Lucan would have been cordial enough. Not, I daresay, exactly riveting company, but perfectly amenable.

And yet ... how does this all square with his fascination with shoe-laces - or his extraordinary diet?

On the matter of shoe-laces, Lord Lucan was quite clear. A man's laces had to be done up army-style, that is running parallel straight across. He could not abide shoe-laces that criss-crossed diagonally, and any man who wore his shoes in such a manner was, in Lord Lucan's light, contemptible.

The second rather odd little fact about Lord Lucan is that, most days of the week, he had lunch at his gambling club, the Clermont. He didn't need to look at the menu - because every day, without exception, he had exactly the same luncheon: Smoked salmon, followed by lamb cutlets.

Two tiny little stories, just a small fraction of a man's life. And yet they reveal so much about Lord Lucan.

Perhaps, on second thoughts, I don't think I'd have liked Lord Lucan very much at all.

William Coles is the talented English editor of Lord Lucan My Story. He is also the author of a moving novel, Prelude, which was published in the UK under the title The Well Tempered Clavier.

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