High life

With a hangover like this, my soul is ready to be saved

Spectator parties and a berth on a yacht – who could ask for more, or cope with it?

12 July 2014

9:00 AM

12 July 2014

9:00 AM

 Island of Rhodes

When I’m on the water, I feel I was born to it. Yachting has always been a way to enjoy the sea and the nature associated with it. The motion through water, the breeze and spray on the face, the looking forward to a landfall, the sheer beauty of leaning into the wind and watching the bowsprit plunge in and then emerge shaking water off itself like a puppy. These are some of the pleasures. Well, I’m on a gin palace, and none of the above is happening. I’m a guest of John and Darcy Rigas, whose chartered megayacht accommodates 16 in pasha-like comfort, and to my eternal shame I’m having the time of my life. I chose the smallest of the 12 double cabins with bathroom en suite to pretend I’m in a sailboat’s cramped quarters, but it’s like slumming at the Savoy. The itinerary is Rhodes, Simi, Patmos, Mykonos, and from that sin island I fly to Gstaad, the mountains, the cows, the mother of my children and some early nights. I can use them.

One more week in London and it would have been curtains. We ended a frantic week of partying with The Spectator’s summer party, followed by one I gave in honour of my low life colleague Jeremy Clarke at London’s latest hotspot, The Chiltern Firehouse, a dud if ever there was one. I had a private dining room for my guests, and when Lord and Lady Black came in late they sort of had to describe me physically to the staff for the penny to drop. That’s no way to treat Taki, a big spender and not even of the Arab or Russian persuasion. The evening wore on and on, so I remained dressed for my next assignment, which was to meet our loyal readers at our very home in 22 Old Queen Street’s garden.


Jeremy, whom I had left only a few hours earlier, was already there, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. In a dark suit, to boot, and looking like the banker he’s not. I was still in my khaki one, tailored exquisitely by Anderson and Sheppard and — sorry about the plug — well deserved. And what fun I had despite the Karamazovian hangover that made it feel twice as hot as it was. Brenda Murray was among the first ladies I spoke to; she is 90, a lecturer, and has been a regular Spectator reader for — get this — 61 years. In other words, she started to subscribe when I was 16 years old. I chatted with many others, all extremely nice, all very encouraging, some sympathising with me about the loss of manners and the horrors of modern celebrity. My NBF, Father Julian of the Brompton Oratory, seemed interested in saving a sinner’s soul, and the way I felt after the night before, believe you me, my soul is ready.

Seeking to change my wicked ways among the waves proved no solution. The gin palace was full of party animals that had been resting in places like Brazil and Italy and London waiting to debauch on board. Oy veh! My friend from Brazil, one from a very old and powerful family, had some horror stories to tell us about the abuses of ticket sales by Fifa officials. Tens and tens of millions have been illegally made by Blatter’s katamites, and there’s nothing anyone can do because the only ones who have witnessed the massive fraud are those who profited from it. The World Cup has been pronounced a great success by the media, but I was shocked, shocked by the refereeing and the way the game is now played. Nothing flows any more, the game’s too physical and the refs don’t call fouls because if they did there would be no game, just stoppages. Croatia, Chile, and Columbia lost by blatantly unfair decisions. Costa Rica should feel proud, however, as should Australia and the US, countries that still consider diving a sport conducted from a board or platform.

And speaking of cheating, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Colossus of Rhodes, may not have occupied the site that we were taught as children, straddling the entrance of the harbour allowing ships to pass between its open legs. The great architect and explorer Taki is convinced the statue of Helios was built on dry land near the palace of the Grand Masters. The ‘wonder’ only stood for 66 years, and it collapsed during a severe earthquake in 266 BC. The Rhodians took that as an omen and did not rebuild it. It lay in a heap for centuries. Then, in 653 AD, the Arabs pillaged Rhodes — they tend to do this sort of thing— and sold pieces of the fallen Colossus to Jewish merchants. I don’t know how true it is, but rumour has it that parts of the Goldman Sachs building in the Big Bagel include some pieces.

Rhodes was liberated from the hated Turks as late as 1912, by the Italians of all people, and reverted to us after the second world war. The beautiful and authoritarian architecture is still here, overlooked by the Knights of Rhodes’ magnificent fort above. The rest of the town has been honky-tonked by my fellow Greeks, and no one can do that better than the modern Greeks, except for some developers in south Florida. Still, some of the island’s waters are crystal-clear and the people have a softer side to them, reminding me of the Ionian side of this tortured country. Next week I will be reporting to you with Swiss cows overlooking my copy.

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  • Doggie Roussel

    Isn’t katamite spelt with a ‘c’ ?

    • RoadrunnerNick

      And Colombia (the nation) with an ‘o’.

      • Doggie Roussel

        Que ?

    • Ulysses Returns

      Not if you’re Greek.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    So how do you hit it off with the bead mumblers, Taki?

  • Doggie Roussel

    Why do you keep endorsing the Blacks, Taki ?

    Before Conrad’s very appropriate imitation of Icarus, he and his ghastly consort had endlessly backed the Israelis in their oppression of the hapless Palestinians and Taki is known as having recorded the injustices inflicted by the Zionists.

    Mr and Mrs Black are obviously steering clear of any controversy in their rampant and high-decibel campaign to re-establish themselves in what they perceive as high society and unfortunately they are being backed by many whom one would have expected to have better perspectives and judgement.

    • Shenandoah

      Oh shut up, you ignoramus.

  • Ulysses Returns

    Shame on you Taki for selling your lovely Bushido and joining those that despoil sailing and raise marina prices with their vulgar motor monsters (though I wouldn’t say no to a classic Feadship). I remain true to the cause with my gorgeous sailing yacht Bucephalus (an early and classic Royal Huisman) and will no longer look for you in Palma or the Peloponnese. Για σου.

  • Thanks for such a knowledgeable post. Film streaming musiqueFilm en streaming musique rai

  • Ravi Singh-Chumber

    Good old Taki, say it as it is. Think I will renew my subscription after all!

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