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Posted at 12:27 p.m. on June 27, 2014
HOH was saddened to learn of the death of a fellow traveller, Diana McLellan, aka “The Ear.”
McLellan worked at the Washington Star, Washington Post and the Washington Times before hanging up the gossip gig. According to the Washington Post’s Adam Bernstein, her column “became a puckish, first-read chronicle of social news and intrigue in the 1970s and ’80s.”
Reading over my own copy of “Ear on Washington,” a collection from her Post columns published in 1982, McLellan’s prose still rings pretty fresh:
“You must not imagine that Washington manners are like manners anywhere else in the world.
“In other capitals, you can content yourself upon meeting your sparkling new circle of friends with a simple, ‘How do you do?’ Then you’re on your own. You must gauge your new acquaintance via a series of elaborate computations: humor, accent, clothing, grammar, jewelry, fingernails, shoes, haircut, tie pattern, sock length, allusions, wallet and interests will combine to give you a general picture: would you like to know this person better?
“In Washington, it’s much easier. The salutation is not ‘How do you do?’ It is ‘What do you do?’
“Foreigners are embarrassed by this. They make up funny answers: ‘I am an anchovy curler at the British Embassy’ ‘I am the Vice-President’s taster.’ ‘I stick the little worm in bottles of Mexican booze.’
“Washington is not amused. It cares deeply what you do. That is how it knows whether or not it wants to know you better.”
She’ll be missed.
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