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The last time I attended a big party at the London home of Conrad and Barbara, the late Jack Profumo was there. The politician — who in the 1960s fell from grace for lying to Parliament about sharing a mistress, Christine Keeler, with a Russian naval attaché — looked a slightly frail and lonely figure, rather out of place among the glittering birds of high society paradise thronging the grand salons of Chateau Black. Jack spoke movingly of his years as a political and social pariah in London. Then he said wistfully: “I didn’t get asked to parties like this, you know.” He was clearly grateful for Conrad’s kindness. It is a good bet that Conrad will now be thinking a great deal about Profumo’s self-effacing road to rehabilitation.
As for Richard Nixon, perhaps the most remarkable icon of personal recovery in 20th-century history, he was the subject of biographies by both Black and myself. So I feel sure that somewhere in Nixon’s post-resignation odyssey there are examples and role model paths that Black will seek to emulate. If that view is correct, neither revenge nor a triumphalist resurrection will last long on Conrad’s agenda.
Instead, he may learn something from Nixon’s inner journey of recovery, surprising himself and the world by seeking and finding peace at the center. And, like Nixon, he may enjoy, in old age, quoting the words of Sophocles: “Sometimes one has to wait until the evening to see how glorious the day has been.”