Saturday, July 07, 2007

Brit Obit

One of my hitherto secret delights has been perusing the idiosyncratic obituaries columns of London newspapers. Observing that "much of the best writing in British papers is found on the obituary page ," Alex Massie at The Debatable Land posted a sterling example of the genre which appeared in the Telegraph last week, that of Count Gottfried von Bismarck:
Count Gottfried von Bismarck, who was found dead on Monday aged 44, was a louche German aristocrat with a multi-faceted history as a pleasure-seeking heroin addict, hell-raising alcoholic, flamboyant waster and a reckless and extravagant host of homosexual orgies.
The great-great-grandson of Prince Otto, Germany's Iron Chancellor and architect of the modern German state, the young von Bismarck showed early promise as a brilliant scholar, but led an exotic life of gilded aimlessness that attracted the attention of the gossip columns from the moment he arrived in Oxford in 1983 and hosted a dinner at which the severed heads of two pigs were placed at either end of the table.

When not clad in the lederhosen of his homeland, he cultivated an air of sophisticated complexity by appearing in women's clothes, set off by lipstick and fishnet stockings. This aura of dangerous "glamour" charmed a large circle of friends and acquaintances drawn from the jeunesse dorée of the age; many of them knew him at Oxford, where he made friends such as Darius Guppy and Viscount Althorp and became an enthusiastic, rubber-clad member of the Piers Gaveston Society and the drink-fuelled Bullingdon and Loders clubs.

Perhaps unsurprisingly he managed only a Third in Politics, Philosophy and Economics.

Earlier this week, I ran across two other similarly delightful obits, and meant to post them, but I can't remember now where I saw them, or who they about. (Who they were is rarely as interesting to me as what is written about them, and how it is written.) If I rummage around here long enough, I may run across them again and will post an addendum.

3 comments:

Donald Douglas said...

The Count...

"was a louche German aristocrat with a multi-faceted history as a pleasure-seeking heroin addict, hell-raising alcoholic, flamboyant waster and a reckless and extravagant host of homosexual orgies."

Gotta love those obits!

Internet Ronin said...

Great entertainment:

an exotic life of gilded aimlessness

Indeed.

Big Chip Dale said...

What writing! What a life! And you've opened my eyes to the exciting world of death. It'll be the first thing I read each morning.