High life

Why I am not drinking for the rest of the year

14 July 2018

9:00 AM

14 July 2018

9:00 AM

What a week this has been! What a great mood I’m in! Why, it’s almost like being in bed… with Georgie Wells. (Details will follow, but don’t let me mislead you. I didn’t even get to first base.) It began the day before those amber waves of grain and purple mountain majesties were celebrated, with a speech I gave before the nicest and brightest group of men you’d ever wish to meet, none of whom go to places like Gstaad or are seen in places like the Eagle. Afterwards my mate Tim Hanbury and I went hunting for women at 5 Hertford Street and ended up paralytic instead.

On 4 July, 242 years ago, the Americans rose against you-know-who and we at The Spectator marked the day with our summer party. It was wonderful, as always. Nowadays it resembles Europe, packed to the gills, and bursting at the seams. I took a pretty girl to Hertford Street afterwards and asked her to put her number into my mobile — yes, I use one when in London and on the boat — and she noticed a picture of yours truly with the mother of my children and the two kids. ‘Who is that, your wife?’ she enquired. ‘It’s the nanny,’ said I, and then swallowed hard when she replied that my children looked rather grown-up to still have a nanny.

Never mind. Lady Annabel Goldsmith’s garden party the next day lasted late into the night, and brought back nostalgic memories of youth — past romances, seductions and carefree good times. I sat with Robin Birley, whose new restaurant Oswald’s on Albemarle Street is the restaurant of the year. Mark Birley’s legacy lives on, and not only in Robin, but also in Gavin Rankin, whose restaurant Bellamy’s is as pleasant a place to lunch and dine as I can think of. Birley and Rankin and forget all the rest, says Taki.

It got late early, as Yogi Berra once said, and the next thing I knew I had to be back at The Spectator for the most pleasant bash of the year, our readers’ afternoon tea-and-sandwiches party. Now I’ve written this before, but there’s no party I enjoy more because our readers are so nice and so devoted to our weekly. And you all know who you are, David, Philip from South Africa, Henry, Madame Blanchard… I could go on. The only bad news is that my low life colleague and friend, Jeremy Clarke, has turned into Porfirio Rubirosa. For any of you young whippersnappers who don’t know who Rubi was, he died in his Ferrari on 5 July, 1965. European peppermills were named ‘Rubis’, after a particular part of his anatomy, and he married three of the richest women in the world, Flor de Oro Trujillo, Doris Duke and Barbara Hutton. His other two wives, the great actress Danielle Darrieux and Odile Rodin, he married for love. He was also a racing driver, great polo player, tough boxer and Taki’s best man. Jeremy’s connection is that he is spending a lot of time on the Riviera with Catriona, his lady, hence the connection with Rubi. Good for you, Jeremy. The next thing we know he will be building a yacht and cruising the hot spots of the Riviera. Which means there will be two gentlemen cruising, Anthony Bamford and Jeremy Clarke.

And now to the party that most likely shortened my life by at least five years. Badminton’s new Duke of Beaufort, Bunter to his old friends, recently married Georgia Powell, granddaughter of the great Anthony Powell, and the two of them threw a hell of a blast. Four hundred people and each and every one of them properly seated in a giant tent attached to the great house, which was air-conditioned on the hottest night of the year. I went out early and exercised, did my punches and kicks, and then my old buddy Shariah picked me up and drove me to a place we had gone many times before. It was my third ball there, but now it was under new management. I wore a white dinner jacket, a bow tie and patent leather shoes. A very nice David Cameron told me that I was properly dressed. The Duke of Beaufort wore a white dinner jacket and a… T-shirt. He is, after all, a rock star.

I sat at the best table, as far as I’m concerned, with the great Ferdy Mount, Tim Hanbury, and the beautiful previously mentioned Georgie, whom I’ve been pursuing for some years. She is now married, so I figured my chances had improved. Not a bit, as it turned out. She flirted outrageously and then bid me good night. Shariah encouraged me to keep trying. Then something terrible happened. I sat with a very pretty young girl and her cousin and hit on her — all night. When I looked at my watch, it was six-thirty in the morning. So I went for a last dance and she disappeared. Shariah forced me to walk home at 7.30. When I woke, after two hours’ sleep, I discovered that the girl I had been chasing all night was my goddaughter.

I am so embarrassed that I am not drinking for the rest of the year.

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