High life

My feud with Conrad Black

25 May 2019

9:00 AM

25 May 2019

9:00 AM

Goody goody gumdrops! The Donald has pardoned Lord Black and I couldn’t be happier. Conrad got a bum deal and spent three and a half years behind bars for charges I always believed to be phoney, most of which were overturned. Never mind. One can’t get back the years wasted in a cell for as good a mind as Conrad’s, but one does emerge from the pokey stronger.

The Big Bagel Times reported the Black pardon in a manner that can only be described as constipated. Black is a conservative, which is a red flag to envious lefties. But there’s something else. I have spoken to medical experts about the envy shown by lefty hacks, and I have been told that its origin is not only ideological, but also physical. British hacks and their American counterparts, I have been assured, enjoy a bowel movement only two to three times per month. They are full of you-know-what, which clouds their mind and makes them envious of their betters. This leads them to write and report whoppers. When I last spoke to Dr Klinghoffer in Zurich, a specialist in constipation and other forms of brain diseases, he insisted that lefty hacks are easily cured of their brain problems by daily colonoscopies.

But let’s get back to Lord and Lady Black. The closest I’ve been to being fired from The Spectator these 42 years was at the turn of this century over an article that Conrad memorably labelled ‘almost worthy of Goebbels’. The Standard reported the feud between Conrad and myself, and a large ad in the newspaper kiosks read ‘Taki almost worthy of Goebbels’. I had one of those ads framed, and when Conrad came to my New York house for dinner, while waiting to go to prison, there it was on my mantelpiece. He gave a wry smile. I didn’t do it to remind Conrad; I keep it there for people to see and get angry.

The Times cattily reported that the surprise party Conrad threw at La Grenouille in the Bagel for his wife Babs’s 60th — which cost $62,000, two thirds of which he charged to his company, Hollinger International — was claimed as a business expense because of the presence of the Donald. I happened to be at that party, and, as with most things in America, it was business despite the fact that Taki was present. Actually Conrad was trying to set up a deal with the future 45th president of you-know-what, and had gone as far as to place yours truly next to Melania at dinner. All the big shots were there and I remember it well. Too well, alas.

While the future first lady and I discussed that ghastly social climber Richard Holbrooke, whose biography was beautifully reviewed by Jonathan Powell in these here pages two weeks ago, Melania wanted to know what Holbrooke’s real name was. All I could tell her was that Holbrooke was a name the con man had pulled out of a hat. What I did know, though, was that he and the Americans, not for the first time, had established a Muslim belt in the middle of the Christian Balkans. That is the point at which a New York Times columnist sitting across from Melania and me interrupted us. Neither she nor I liked that and it finished badly. I told him that he would be sucking on his gums for the next couple of months if he did it again, and he shut up.

After Conrad had given a gracious speech praising his wife and name-checking Donald Trump (as well as yours truly), I saw a large orange vision approaching me. It was the Donald and he was smiling broadly. It was obvious that Melania had told him of my threat to punch the lights out of the condescending elite interrupter. ‘You’re the greatest,’ he told me, and I have never seen or heard from him since.

And speaking of Holbrooke, I remember when he ran off with TV newscaster Peter Jennings’s wife Kati Marton, a sexpot I knew because of our children going to the same kindergarten in the Bagel. Peter was a very nice man — a lefty, to be sure, but he didn’t deserve to be cuckolded by Holbrooke. The last time I saw her was at the première of the greatest movie ever made, Seduced & Abandoned, starring — in a two-minute appearance — yours truly (the great Debbie Ross wrote that I was a Greek Gielgud; not in my sex habits, Debbie). Kati Marton is a good writer and, as previously stated, a sexpot. She is attractive and very smart, but she must have had a brain aneurism the day she married the pushiest man on earth.

Never mind! It’s all over now where Holbrooke is concerned: he croaked, and Conrad has been pardoned. And although I’m not feeling hunky-dory — my last week of partying set me back a bit — I’m off to my son-in-law’s and daughter’s schloss deep in the Austrian countryside for my grandson’s christening and three days and nights of making whoopee. Yippee!

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