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Letter from New York
Mathew Tombers is Managing Director of Intermat, Inc., ( a television company which executive produces programs and consults with industry companies on a variety of issues. Intermat, Inc. is currently involved in approximately thirty hours of television in various stages for a variety of networks. He is one of the Executive Producers of OFF TO WAR, a ten hour series for Discovery Times and for a one hour on international adoptions for Discovery Health. He has consulted a variety of companies, including Ted Turner Documentaries, WETA, Betelgeuse Productions, and Creation Films, Lou Reda Productions as well as many others.

April 17, 2005

A British Brush: Lunch With Lady Sophie

I have always been a bit of an Anglophile. I was weaned on reading Agatha Christie mysteries, and watching Shakespeare plays at the Guthrie in my hometown of Minneapolis.

Awhile ago my friend Jeffrey mentioned a dinner he had attended in Bel-Air, bringing along his friend, Lady Sophie Lawford-Bingham. He had met her in Greece or Sardinia or one of the other spots frequented by the wealthy and the glitterati. By the end of the evening, wives had to pull their husbands off of her as she swept them away with her beauty, her wit, her accent and the fact she was dressed in an outfit that would have dazzled any red carpet.

When Jeffrey told the story it was hard to get out because he was laughing so hard. Just as Charles and Camilla were getting married, Lady Sophie made her return to L.A. to avoid the festivities at Windsor. While not invited to the Guild Hall she had been invited to the reception; her decision not to be there was based, I suspect, on discretion being the better part of valor. [I speculate she had been way too intimate with way too many of the attending men.]

Jeffrey suggested I should meet her and we agreed to meet at Musso-Frank in Hollywood.

Lady Sophie is as beautiful, bright, witty and sexy as Jeffrey had promised. She told me I would recognize her. I did. Who but a Lady Sophie Lawford-Bingham would be wearing a zebra coat and dark glasses and sipping champagne at high noon?

Lady Sophie, I discovered, is distantly related to nearly everyone. She is distantly related to Charles; distantly related to Diana; distantly related, for God’s sake, to Otto von Hapsburg – he just turned 93, oldest son of the last Austrian-Hungarian Emperor and distantly related, too, to Camilla. She has all the relation bases covered.

She does all those things we associate with the bright and beautiful. And she has grown up the way we think all British nobility should: country estates, city homes, finishing school in Switzerland, [the same one Diana attended], a brother who is a bit batty. She works to get him off the family farm and mix with society in hopes he will meet a lady who will date him; so far in vain. He prefers his first editions and grouse shooting to socializing.

She lives a life that is reminiscent of the jet setters of yesteryear: a peripatetic life – shuttling between continents and countries, drifting; it seems, mostly from party to party.

All I had to do was ask a few questions while a fascinating life unfolded. Favorite champagne? Veuve Cliquot. Favorite country? Oh dear, that wouldn’t be fair to any one! A boyfriend? Not presently. Klaus von someone is a bit of the past now [she had been with him at Jeffrey’s dinner]. Where off to next? Oh back to London by way of Sydney. Some friends there are having a bit of a do…

In her purse, she produced some pictures she was carrying, choosing one for a French magazine that was doing a small article about her. She had hated the one they took and demanded they insert something else. Of course they said yes. I get the feeling Lady Sophie has heard very few no’s in her life.

I was wondering why Jeffrey was eager to have me meet her and why a glitterati would be eager to meet me.

It was simple. She is getting bored with simply being a glitterati. Surely there is something she could be doing? And you see, Jeffrey thought I could be helpful.

Lady Sophie pointed out that if PARIS HILTON could be designing handbags, certainly she could be doing something as useful. Did I have any ideas?

Personally, I was thinking, I am not sure I’d be giving up a life of leisure but I promised Lady Sophie that I would put my brains to the situation. She has phoned me several times to regale me with her adventures and to discuss ideas for her future. I doubt very much I have heard the last of Lady Sophie and I am quite sure I don’t want to…