New York

The high life has gone with the wind because of you know what. The last time I went to a glittering ball, Marie Antoinette still had a head on her shoulders, or so it seems, and sweats and leggings are now ubiquitous at intimate dinner parties. Here in the Bagel fashion has followed the street for a long time, making high fashion seem as irrelevant and obscene as Anna Wintour being paid millions to kiss the ass of celebrities.

No sweats, no leggings was my only rule for an intimate dinner for Prince Pavlos, expertly cooked by Michael Mailer and attended by Arki Busson and three youngsters of the female persuasion. A very interesting conversation took place in the middle of dinner, one that had one lady guest threatening to denounce me as a male chauvinist, until I pointed out that it was pointless threatening me as I’m rather proud of the fact that I am one. The Bagel now resembles Moscow circa 1935, with fear and loathing of the midnight knock by the PC police.

The rise in blood pressure was due to a documentary I had watched about Woody and Mia, one filmed with Mia’s approval and without Woody’s co-operation. It was long and quite boring, with extended period shots of numerous children hanging around a lake and garden. Mia Farrow dominated the proceedings, followed by the alleged victim Dylan. What I said was that I was with Woody when Mia first decided to go public.

The reason I was on his side when the brouhaha began was very simple. I could not envision how any normal person could seek sexual gratification by touching an innocent child. And Woody Allen came across as a normal person — talented as hell, but normal. At that point my wife suggested that I live in a dream world, and that the real world is full of perverts and child molesters. Yes, granted, but Woody Allen?

The other important factor was the woman-scorned aspect. Allen, having never married Mia, ran off with her adopted daughter. Wasn’t it at least possible, I proposed to my fellow guests, that Mia might be exacting a Medea-like revenge? As adjectives rained down on me, I defended myself by quoting Benjamin Franklin’s maxim that it is better 100 guilty persons should escape than that one innocent person should suffer. Franklin was echoing Voltaire, but it was no good.

I do not recommend the documentary because it’s very dull and one-sided, and Woody Allen comes out as a terrible creep. But if he’s guilty he belongs behind bars, and a documentary is not a court of law. All in all, after hours spent watching the program, I know nothing more about the case except that she accused and he denied.

One man who emerges with honor and compassion is the Connecticut district attorney who at the time of the alleged molestation refused to hold a trial because he would have been forced to put a seven-year-old on the stand. Woody’s lawyers would have made mincemeat out of her, and the DA refused to allow that to happen. He’s now retired and met the alleged victim on camera. Dylan told him she wished he had held a trial and put her on the stand. I guess we shall never know, but one thing is for sure: Woody Allen’s name will not be remembered for ManhattanRadio Days, Hannah and her Sisters and Annie Hall, among some 49 wonderful movies, but for having been accused of sexually abusing his seven-year-old adopted daughter Dylan.

Allen has vehemently denied the allegations and was never prosecuted. But I also ask you, what if Woody did do the dirty deed? And got away with it because of the decency of a district attorney, his undeniable fame and talent, and the all-round lovable schnook he plays so well in his films?

Allen has claimed the documentary is a ‘shoddy hit piece’. Now I realize you can’t take sides. Woody has denied it, and against him we have the word of Mia and her daughter. We need the Delphic Oracle, but Pythia is out having a joint, now legal in this dump. In the meantime we’ve got to stick with Voltaire.

This article was originally published in The Spectator’s UK magazine. Subscribe to the World edition here.