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Bernie, an unforgettable personality

Bernie - I think he always hated the abbreviation but put up with it - held, as Paul Taylor suggested in his obituary, strong opinions on a variety of subjects and people, and was not slow to express them. Over the last few years Emmanuel Macron had been the object of his ire in the famous Edinger editorial e-mails that he would fire off to his friends and former colleagues.


I sometimes agreed with him (not on Macron) but I have a couple of other memories illustrating this side of his unforgettable personality.


A few years back, I told him that my wife and I were planning a holiday in Reunion, the French Island off Africa. "What do you want to go there for? It's a total dump," he said dismissively. But that didn't stop him sending me a copy of a relatively positive story he had written about it some years before. And on return I told him that I quite liked the place. "Maybe it's changed then," he conceded.


On another occasion, just back from another holiday in Guadeloupe, I mentioned that I had been to the Saint-Jean Perse museum in Pointe-a-Pitre. Perse was a poet and Nobel literature laureate born on the island who became a top French diplomat. He fled Paris for London in 1940 but refused to recognise de Gaulle as leader of the Free French and moved on to the US.


I thought he might be worth talking about. "Bouf!" said Bernie. "That traitor." End of conversation. ■