Aline in Paris: At 9:30 pm Chez des Anges Oysters! Lamb! Cheesy potatoes! Red wine! White wine! Perrier! 10:45 pm Aline puts on sheep skin! Eats soufflé!
11:05 pm Drunk on frog likker! (sic)
Ho! Ho! Gerry Loughran gets bill 372 Francs! **Ho! Ho! **Aline recommends Chez des Anges as a good 40 franc a person cafe! Ho! Julia Childs are here. Julia Childs are rich
12 Midnight! Deux Magots: black decaffeinated ersatz coffee! Aline talks of Korengold baby, Slaters, curses Brasserie Lipp, picks teeth, decides to buy art. Sees new fur coat.
As I was researching the story I decided I would see if I could find the people referred to in the cartoon. I googled Gerry Loughran, finding what I thought might be his email address, writing to him. He recounts the story in his autobiography, How Long Will You be Staying. (Gerry is a retired foreign correspondent living in Newcastle Upon Tyne.)
Of entirely the opposite persuasion and enjoying French cuisine to the full was our only female reporter, Aline Mosby from Missoula, Montana, whose extraordinary career began in Seattle (street reporting), moved to Los Angeles (showbiz), then in 1959 to Moscow (the first American woman correspondent, she interviewed Lee Harvey Oswald); then came Paris, New York, Moscow again, New York again, Paris again and in 1979 Beijing for the opening-up of China before retirement back in her Paris apartment. At least one woman was always needed on the reporting staff to cover the fashions and feisty Aline, who could turn her hand to anything, resented this. “If I have to write up the Saturday soccer results, you guys should also do the fashions,” she once declared to this visibly shaken bureau manager.
One time when Kissinger gave a news conference in Paris, Aline rose to ask a question and the State Department Press officer hissed in Kissinger’s ear to be careful, this was Paris’s answer to Helen Thomas, UPI’s feared White House correspondent.
I mentioned earlier how old friends keep turning up in my life, if not in person then referentially. Include Aline. Thirty years after that dinner party, I received an email out of the blue asking, “Are you by any chance the Gerry Loughran who had dinner with Aline Mosby at Chez des Anges and … drew a cartoon of the evening?” Attached was a pen drawing of a frizzy haired lady with the caption, “11.05 pm: Ho! Ho! Gerry Loughran gets 372 FF bill. Ho ho.” I admitted to being the host but not the artist, and by return received an explanation from a retired Canadian law professor named Tim Christian. He and his wife Kate had rented a holiday apartment in Paris and discovered a number of books lying about, all warmly inscribed to a certain Aline Mosby by the various authors. The cartoon in question hung on a bedroom wall. The professor checked the internet, learned of Aline’s extraordinary career and found that before her death in 1984, she gifted her apartment, with its view of Notre Dame, to friends. They had left some of her memorabilia for guests to explore. Tim was keen to know more about our small dinner party drama. I explained that the cartoonist was our boss Richard Growald and that I picked up the tab because I was the Paris bureau manager and would most certainly have recouped the 372 francs on expenses. The “Ho ho’s” referred to Aline’s wildly optimistic assurance that dinner would cost only 60 francs a head. All this was brought vividly back to me through Tim Christian’s email and it was clear we would have to meet outside cyberworld. It happened some months later when he and Kate visited England. We have since become friends and regular correspondents. Thank you, Aline.
Gerry and I have become friends. We have exchanged our stories and write to each other. In his piece Gerry mentions the trip that Kate and I took to meet him in Newcastle. Since then, we have seen him three times. He came to spend a week with us last summer and we saw him for dinner in London when we were there in the Fall. This spring we attended his 80th birthday party in Newcastle.
Gerry is a fascinating person, having travelled the world as a foreign correspondent for UPI. He was bureau chief in Paris, New York, Beirut and Moscow. He spent years in Kenya helping to set up a national newspaper financed by the Agha Kahn and wrote a riveting book about it: Birth of a Nation.