I worked with H. D. S. (Hugh) Greenway's daughter in Boston for a short time and was invited to visit H. D. S.'s home a few times. Before going for my first visit, I knew very little about the family other than that it was 'old'...H. D. S. had been roommates at Harvard with one of the men that owned the firm we worked at...he was a famous war reporter during Vietnam...he was an editor for the Boston Globe...and their summer home in Maine was near another Globe colleague's summer home, Ellen Goodman. But none of that prepared for who and what H. D. S. really was.
H. D. S. and his wife were away when I first visited his home. His daughter picked me up at the train station and we stopped in town to pick up a pizza and a six pack of beer. We then drove out of town and eventually left the main road by turning onto an unmarked overgrown country lane. As we drove down this lane a Georgian-style mansion came into view and she said, "That's my uncle's house." Then we came upon another mansion done in a similiar style and she said, "That's my grandmother's house." The country lane then ended (if I recall correctly) with the gravel driveway of H. D. S's Georgian-style mansion.
We went inside. There were two grand pianos flanking the very grand staircase. I asked why they had two. "For duets." "Oh." I replied. She threw the pizza down on one of the pianos and told me to put the beer next to it. I was afraid it would leave a mark so she said for me to bring the beer into the kitchen. To get to the kitchen we had to go through the dining room. The dining room was unusual in that it had two distinctly different tables. The big table had 22 high-backed, heavy, and ornately carved chairs. The other table was a graceful Queen Anne style with 10 Queen Anne chairs. Again, I asked why there were two. "The chairs on that one", she said pointing to the table and with the ornately chairs "are so heavy they each require a footman to stand behind them during the meal to lift the chair to and from the table." "Oh." I replied. We then went through into the butler's pantry where I met a tiny Vietnamese woman who was spoke so quickly that I had no idea what language she used. As we went into the kitchen, my friend told me her dad had brought the woman and her husband back with him from the Vietnam War to help raise her and her sisters. The kitchen was a great old kitchen with a giagantic Aga-type stove. We put the beer away and went up to her room to have our pizza. Along the way, we passed H. D. S.'s closet. It was a room. The uncle they had inheirited the house and its contents from was the same size as H. D. S. I stopped to look inside. His daughter said, "Those were my great-uncle's clothes. My dad wears them now." I did think that was odd. However, the tweed jackets looked as if they were from Saville Row and the shoes were such nice ones and there was so much of it all, the family would have been nuts to donate them to charity. We ate our lunch and she gave me a tour of the rest of the home. It was very authentic, very beautiful, and very gracious.
Later that night as we were getting into the car to drop me back at the train station, I said to my friend, "Your home is really cute." My friend stopped and said, "You know, a lot have people have called my home a lot of things but no one ever has called it cute." I then told her that I really didn't know how to describe her home and that I imagined more than anything it was a terrific burden. I then added, "You really have to marry the right guy don't you? Where will you find a guy who can afford to keep this up? " She then told me how much pressure she was under just because of what she came from. As crazy as it may sound, I felt very sorry for her on my train ride back to my sparsley decorated fifth floor walkup on the wrong side of Beacon Hill.
The next time I was invited back it was for my friend's going away dinner with H. D. S. himself and his wife at the Queen Anne table that seated 10. The dinner didn't go well because my guest and I could not find that wild, unmarked country lane in the dark. We got terribly lost and arrived almost an hour late. They had begun dinner without us. H. D. S. was mainly engaged in talking with one young man he had known for some time. When dinner was finished, my dinner guest and I thanked them and left soon after. H. D. S.'s daughter left the next morning to be a sculptor in Italy. She eventually took up with a local. She brought the local back with her the following summer. I was invited back to H. D. S.'s home to meet him but I turned the invitation down. She went back to Italy to sculpt some more and I moved to Detroit to work. Over time we lost touch of each other. It was really much more my fault we lost touch than hers.
It was, and still is, my impression that H. D. S. Greenway was part of the old guard of the Northeast Liberal Establishment. In his column he mentions he lived in Britain for a short time. That's his quaint way of saying he went to Oxford. In 2002, H. D. S. participated in a Undermining Terrorism at the Kennedy School For Governement. His panel, led by David Gergen, Controlling Information and Mobilizing Diplomacy concluded:
"The BBC was held up as a model of legitimate, diplomatic, disspassionate, objective reporting. Some participants argued that reporters always have to make judgements, and that truth is socially constructed. For example, the different portrayal of the Palestinians in the Boston globe and the New York Times. Neither is less "true" but their takes are markedly different."
That is not a surprising statement from any panel at the Kennedy School for Government. In fact, it's really de riguer. (For an opposing opinion on truth being socially constructed and biased BBC reporting, read Melanie Phillips) What is surprising is that some 2 1/2 years later, H. D. S. is showing signs of sounding more like a toffee-nosed Anthony Daniels or Roger Kimball than the old H.D. S. I once knew.
"Ansari believes that "multiculturalism is crucial to establish a national bargain" between the majority and minorities, but even multiculturalism has come to be questioned in the anguish that has followed the suicide bombings.
"Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Comission for Racial Equality, recently put the cat among the pigeons by saying that a generation of pupils of different races were growing up to be "strangers to each other" because of attending separate schools. "Sleepwalking inot segregation" he called it. Such a division provided a "fertile breeding ground for extremists."
"Where once Britons were put off by what one letter writer to the liberal Guardian called America's "obsessive saluting of the flag and other ostentatious demonstrations of national unity"," how many are wondering if more of that might help. "Teach our children what it means to be British," thundered the right-of-center Telegraph."
H. D. S. carries very heavy weight in the world where the right people think the right way. His column might just be a begining of more good things to come, like the end of multiculturalism in our lifetime. If I were Mr. Panero, I would consider sending H. D. S. a complimentary copy of TNC's Britain Today.
Hey, look at it this way, if H. D. S. likes it enough he might just invite Mr. Kimball and Mr. Panero to visit his closet.
Thanks to RealClearPolitics.