Magazine article The Spectator

Beyond Belief

Magazine article The Spectator

Beyond Belief

Article excerpt

On board S/Y Bushido Last Friday the 13th was not a good-news day. I was in Ibiza, sailing around, when the papers were brought in and I read about the death of my old and very good friend Nigel Dempster. Actually, it was a blessing.

He had been suffering for years and every time I spoke with him - to him, rather, as he was unable to towards the end -- it was getting worse. Talk about the end of an era. How I miss the good times with him. Then over the telephone we heard that Huntsie Schoenburg, my 19-year-old nephew, a six-foot-four blond Yale student, and the sweetest and kindest boy I know, has to have chemo for a brain tumour.

(The outlook is good, however, as the thing was discovered in time. ) Finally, the results of the trial in Chicago. My friend Conrad Black beat nine out of the 13 charges, but it doesn't look good, according to press reports. I for one am standing by him, and, even if the worst happens, he is a strong man who will do his time and be back. At least I hope so.

Now for some slightly less depressing items. A coarse low-lifer by the name of Alastair Campbell writes that Princess Diana declared to him her dislike of Prince Philip. Yes, and pigs, however subsonically, do fly. What I'd like to know is how come Diana never told others, people much closer to her than Campbell, about her dislike of Phil the Greek. I was an acquaintance, and I once asked her point-blank -- while dining with her in my house -- what she thought of Philip. Her answer was certainly not what Campbell claims. In fact, it gets worse. I remember distinctly that a lady friend of Diana, one who had gone on a few trips with her, told me how Di never, but never had a bad word for any of the royals, especially the Queen and her consort. So who is to be believed? The poor little Greek boy or the coarse Blairite? I leave it up to you, dear readers. But one thing is for sure. Judging only by this, how reliable are the rest of the diaries? I trust the Hitler ones which appeared in the Sunday Times during the Frank Giles era a bit more.

And speaking of vulgarians, I didn't spot too many oiks in Ibiza, a place known to draw them like you know what draws flies.

I suppose they're all in St Tropez. What struck me on the Spanish isle was the politeness of the locals. While tied up in the harbour, a large, grotesque cruise ship pulled out at record speed, its wake forcing my sailing boat to bang against the gin palace next to us. …

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