He differed from the Clermont Club owner in that at least John Aspinall was capable of something approaching devotion – not only to his third wife – they were happily married until his death, but to animals.
Aspinall first bought a monkey, which was swiftly followed by two bears which lived in his house until they became too unruly.
Yet he remained a popular man to those who wasted unmeasurable sums.
The Clermont Club itself a remarkably beautiful Palladian townhouse and Aspinall spared no expense in its renovation, making it feel more like a miniature Edwardian palace, which would have made the higher echelons of the peerage feel at home.
They don’t talk about having kids, they talk about “breeding Jemima” like they are a pair of anthropomorphic pedigree ferrets.
But Lady Annabel Goldsmith has served one purpose in life: when she was Mark Birley’s wife, he opened a nightclub in the basement of the Clermont, and he named it after her. Annabel’s was the club to be seen in, if you could get beyond the door policy, the velvet rope and on to the member’s list.
Watching sphinx-like in the background, he stood by impassively as his Swiss bank account exploded with funds drained from squandered inheritances and debts settled by selling off country estates as the Clermont Set played the crack-cocaine of card games, Chemin de fer.
He liked to brag that his member’s list included five dukes, five marquesses and twenty earls.
Over entitled, intellectually under-endowed and comedically snobbish.Meanwhile, Jimmy Goldsmith eventually decided to dump his wife in France and slobber all over Annabel Birley.She enjoyed the slobbering, divorced her husband and married him.One gets the sense by interpreting Goldsmith’s character from The Gamblers that whatever small goodness this man may have possessed, by the time he reached thirty it had completely deserted him.His relations with others reveal him to be quite insanely vengeful – due to his actions he drove one of the other ‘players’ in the Clermont Set to suicide. A deeply spoiled, brattish man who used his money to wreak revenge rather than do any good or leave any kind of worthwhile legacy.