Fidel Castro, the last of the beardies, is dead. Most of the communist era leaders had beards (except for Mao who couldn’t grow one). I miss them as I will miss Fidel. They were all true “people’s dictators”. Modern nasties lack colour and charisma; as a result they have fewer followers amongst western college students. These days a beardie smoking a cigar is more likely a hipster emulating a lumberjack than a revolutionary evoking Castro.
Dying at the right time can be good for your career. Just ask Elvis. Fidel hung around a bit too long for his own good. British politician Enoch Powell’s words never rang truer – “all political lives, unless they are cut off in midstream at a happy juncture, end in failure”.
Fidel’s mates knew when to pop off at a happy juncture. Ché left early and left a good looking corpse – ensuring a steady stream of royalties from the sale of T-shirts and posters of his image. Hugo Chavez departed before his country went to the dogs – definitely a career enhancing move. Fidel hung around to see people protest his rule and his country run out of ideas, medicine and food. His brother will probably live long enough to see the final indignity of the first Trump Hotel opening in Havana.
To celebrate the life and death of a true 20th century icon I popped into the Garden Room at the Lanesborough Hotel in London. The Garden Room is an exquisite cigar bar with a wide selection of pre and post Castro Havana cigars. The best pre Castro cigars are a snip at around £2000 each. They were rolled on the thighs of a woman who would now be in her eighties. I passed.
Smoking a post Castro Cohiba, I raised a glass of Havana Club Cuban rum to the Cuban people. They’ve been the forgotten backdrop to a global circus. Perhaps it is now their turn to finally take centre stage.
Read my obituary of Hugo Chavez – Death Becomes Chavez.