Cooper Brown: He's out there

'My problem with "normal" charity is the worthiness thing. They'd double the take if they accepted everyone gains from it'
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Victoria's pregnancy really came as a bolt out of the blue. Oh to be French at a time like this. I met a cool journalist called Taki the other day. He's this Greek guy who writes for The Spectator. From what I hear he was quite a swordsman in his day and he told me that the French, believe it or not, are the only race that have got marriage right. In France it is considered good manners for a husband to have a happy wife whilst keeping several mistresses. Good to see they've got something right. It might explain the "cheese-eating surrender monkey" tag of Simpsons lore. I guess they just don't have the desperate urge most sensible people have of getting as far away from their wives as possible.

The really good news about my impending infanta is that it means whichever way my ongoing legal battle goes with the Tory peer I punched out, I now cannot be kicked out of this country. The reason? I am not only to be a father to a half-British child but yesterday, in the Groucho Club, I asked Victoria to marry me and she accepted. I guess that makes me nearly British, so my plans to stand as an MP might not be quite so futile. If it was good enough for Winston Churchill, then it'll sure do for the Coop.

On the flipside I now have the dubious pleasure of having to go down to Wiltshire this weekend. I have to meet the parents again and let them know the news. They think I'm well off the scene and have no idea that Victoria is still seeing me, let alone carrying the heir to the Cooper kingdom. I shall take the precaution of emptying Pop's shotgun before the announcement.

The secret to getting in with the in-laws, according to my darling future wife, is charity. Now you might think that charity begins at home where the Coop's concerned but, far from it. In America it's not considered that appropriate to talk about what you do philanthropically but I'm quite happy to spill the beans. It seems that in the UK you need to give a lot of money to the arts and animals if you want to get anywhere. Although I'm a media guy through and through, I'm not really into the arts. It tends to be quite an elitist thing and, unless you're John Paul Getty, they'll happily take your money but never let you in the door. I think we can all safely agree that charity is essentially a two-way stretch? The donor gets kudos and the benefactor gets cash. That's the way it works and don't be fooled by anyone who says different.

Victoria's constantly doling out cash to the Battersea Dog's Home and battered cat refuges etc. This is because she doesn't need the kudos and has that British fondness for fluffy things as opposed to foreigners. As far as I'm concerned, most of these animals are there for a reason. Either they're vicious or they were completely untrainable and so, in a sense, they've brought their fate on themselves. Besides, I'm never going to get anywhere sponsoring a three-legged alley cat. The other scam her family are all into is having big parties to raise money for some worthy cause that no one really gives a shit about. I have to admit that at least everyone has a good time and it's good networking, so maybe I'll drop a little cash into the next big ball Mom-in-law's planning.

My UK financial advisor, a seriously smart East-End guy based in Bloomsbury, deals with a bunch of top A-listers. He tells me that the "in" charities are things like historical building restoration funds and large one-off donations to important academic institutions. Both carry the bonus of having your name publicly attached as a benefactor. He really pressed me to donate money to a top public school when I first got here. I can't name it but, here's a clue, it's on a hill. If I have a son, he now gets straight in, no questions asked, however dumb he is - and with a hefty discount, as well as being a tax off-set. Everyone's a winner huh? He also got me into this regular donation scheme financing a campaign near me that restores Georgian townhouses. This immediately plugged me into an endless network of grateful and influential people. The guy's a frickin' genius. My problem with "normal" charity people is the whole worthiness thing. If everyone just accepted that everyone gains from it then they could probably double the annual take. Here ends the Cooper charity lesson.

So, anyway, this weekend, the Coop is going to be kissing serious ass while dropping as many charity connections as I can. Apparently, Mom's really into Romanian orphanages, so I'm going to blitz her with a big fat cheque to the orphanage of her choice. Victoria says that this is not the way to go about it and that I need to be more subtle but I bet she grabs that cheque in her clammy little hands before you can say "Who's the daddy?"

Finally, the great name debate rages on. My current favourite is Ronald (after Reagan, not McDonald) but Victoria says that this is out of the question. She has a friend with two babies called Martha and Maximillian and she now has a thing about names beginning with M. She likes Milton and Milo. If we have a boy and give him either of those names, I'll be first in the queue beating him up at the school gates. I've got a compromise candidate - how about Winston? She'll definitely go for that and, despite him always winning top Limey of all time, you do all know he was actually a Yankee? Come on, admit it. God Bless America. Cooper out.

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