Thursday 29 January 1998
This is a nine-hour flight; final destination - Palm Beach, where I am apparently going to meet a millionaire. At least, that's what everyone keeps telling me. I am, in fact, hoping to meet about twenty millionaires. So is the 60-year-old man sitting next to me on the plane. You see, this is no vacation. I may have three bikinis in my suitcase, but I ticked "business" not "pleasure" on my visa waiver form. This is serious business - two whole weeks in pursuit of very rich Americans, convincing them to part with lots of dollars.
My accomplice and I are not a pair of confidence tricksters preying on rich old Yanks. Far from it, darlings, we just want them to buy some of our lovely Scottish paintings - y'know, real paintings from, like, Scotland, that are just so old and they must be good honey 'cos they cost so much. Get the picture?
Even better, my accomplice is Scottish, and so am I. Neat, huh? So plenty of tales from the glens to entertain them with while they are deciding to part with $100,000. The Palm Beach International Art and Antiques Fair is the main social focus of January-thru-February, and coincides with the migration of the "snowbirds", ie oldies from the Eastern Seaboard who come down annually to warm their crumbly bones. These are not the sort of millionaires a girl wants to meet or marry. Unless of course they are so ancient and incapacitated that consummation of the marriage is not possible in any way .
My friend, Helen - the erstwhile suggester of "Alaska Men" rang me before I left for the airport. "They must have sons," she said. "You could be the next Jackie Onassis." I could go for the sunglasses and the suits, but generally American politicians are a bit of a no-no. I have however read "How to marry a billionaire", a step-by-step guide in the current Harpers & Queen. According to this guide I have done most of the things you're supposed to do to meet one: worked for Christie's, been to the Groucho Club and met all the male colleagues of my friend in the City. So, if this is anything to go by, I should be wearing a diamond as big as the Ritz.
But there's a blip - you're supposed to fly Club Class. Damn. That's what comes of working for a Scottish art dealer - steerage all the way. I wake him and tell him that we would probably have sold a painting already had we gone Club.
Never mind - maybe a Snowbird or twenty will fly into our net this week.
As Voltaire once said, “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal”
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