High life

Alcohol is the perfect cure for deafness

2 November 2019

9:00 AM

2 November 2019

9:00 AM

New York

A busy ten days, or nights rather, with some heroic drinking thrown in for good measure. Hangovers discriminate against the old nowadays, but no one is doing anything about it — not in Washington, not in New York, not in London. Our former chairman Algy Cluff’s dinner party at a gentleman’s club, followed by an extremely funny speech given by him, started me boozing and things didn’t let up. One drinks to enhance an enjoyable evening, never to relieve boredom. Also one drinks when one can’t hear, as in extremely noisy New York restaurants.

I made a big mistake recently, when I had Prince and Princess Pavlos of Greece and Michael and Victoria Wolff for dinner at Avra, a Greek restaurant on the Upper East Side that I thought might be a quiet tavern like the ones you find below the Acropolis back home. The place turned out to be larger than Grand Central and noisier than when Krupp’s Big Bertha was firing off shells against the allies. When my wife rang to make the reservation, they took down my name and assured her that the best table would be available for little ole me ‘and my important guests’. Great, I thought, they must have heard of me, and prepared in my mind the questions I had for Michael Wolff, whose book on Trump was a runaway bestseller. Nothing could have been further from the truth. It was an old Bagel trick — to make people feel important so that you get their custom. I didn’t mind because the food, wine and service were excellent, but I couldn’t hear a word that Michael and the prince were saying, so I chose to go non-stop liquid.

Funny how the Bagel is crawling with restaurants, but a good intimate place to eat is hard to find. Minetta Tavern, owned by my old buddy Keith McNally, a Brit, is such a place, but it’s a long way downtown and the traffic is horrific. Robin Birley is opening a place uptown, though, and that should solve my dining problems. Minetta Tavern, in the meat-packing district, was a hangout for Papa Hemingway when he was slumming downtown. e.e.cummings and Ezra Pound used to join him and reminisce about the old days in Paris. Papa would be appalled with downtown today. The place is full of tourists looking to make a statement, dressed in the contrived dishevelment they think is cool. Back in Hem’s time, downtown was reserved for real hustlers, real druggies and real artists. The place was ruined when people from Vogue moved in.

Yep, the place changes at a dizzying pace, which makes any longstanding literary spot all the more precious. Norman Mailer used to go downtown to smoke pot and get into a fight. Woody Allen went there to play the clarinet, but I don’t know if he still does so since les girls went after him. Allen is a great film-maker but he had the bad luck to get involved with the Medea-like avenger Mia Farrow. Her ghastly son Ronan is continuing her tradition of ruining men’s lives.

The latest casualty in the girls-going-after-boys war is the billionaire money manager Kenneth Fisher, who said that wooing a wealthy client is like wooing a woman in a bar. Well, I think he’s right: one puts one’s best foot forward (although I’ve never wooed a client, I’ve wooed lotsa women in bars). Close to $3 billion have fled his company because he dared to say that. Big investors are running from him faster than the Kuwaiti ruling family ran from Saddam’s tanks. Probably quicker than the Saudi rulers would flee if, say, the Americans or Israelis looked away while an Iranian contingent landed in the sands.

Otherwise, everything’s hunky-dory, and I have a bit of advice for les girls: let justice take its course with Harvey Weinstein instead of attacking him when he sits quietly with a friend at a restaurant. An actress recently confronted Harvey at his table. Her name made all the papers the next day, plus the news on TV. But Harvey is still innocent in the eyes of you-know-who. Wait for the verdict, girls.

The man you should be going after is the King of Siam, King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who has four beautiful wives — his last one is a former flight attendant — but who dismissed a consort, Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi, for overt ambition and acting like a queen. I like the King because, unlike most monarchs nowadays, he has about 30 billion big ones and has spent much of his time in Germany with women who like him for many reasons. He also designates women as consorts (not to be confused with wives and other such female labels). Thai women are among the most beautiful creatures on earth, and the last time I was there, 47 years or so ago, I fell for a waitress who brought me breakfast at the Dusit Thani Hotel. I was on my way to Nam and swore to her I’d be back to get her and take her west with me. It never happened and by now she must be a very old lady while I’m sort of set in my ways. Reading about the King’s consorts brought back memories. I should have made her my consort, but I was young and stupid back then. Girls, go after King Maha. Harvey has spent all his moolah on lawyers.

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