‘It’s a boy!’ someone called through the few inches of door pushed open into my office, and went on to call the same news down the passage. No need to ask what it was all about, whose boy was meant or why we must all be told. Everyone knew. For days we had been talking of little else (absurd though that now seems). One of the most famous actresses in the world, the Swedish Ingrid Bergman, had left husband and child in Hollywood for the Italian film director Roberto Rossellini, also married with a child. No one today could imagine the enormity this seemed, the scandal it created. Like everyone else, we were agog to know the result of it. Such things, well over fifty years ago, didn’t happen – not openly, at least.
It wasn’t just the fact of an affair that shook us. It was the openness of it, the way it was acknowledged and everyone knew. It was the genuineness of the emotion generated, the fame of the lovers: she often called the most beautiful woman on earth, he a leading