Magazine article The Spectator

Pulling Power

Magazine article The Spectator

Pulling Power

Article excerpt

On board S/Y Bushido

My closest friend Yanni Zographos, who died 11 years ago, had a system for picking up women with young children in tow. As he passed a mother pushing a pram he would announce to no one in particular, 'Les jolies mamans font des jolies bébés . . . ' Starting in the summer of 1956, my first free year after 11 years in captivity, I put his theory to the test. In the 51 ensuing years I can confirm that neither Yanni nor I ever managed to pick up a single woman with that line. Still, we always remained upbeat and confident. Another favourite pick-up line of Yanni's back in the Fifties was to yell 'taxi' while riding in his Bentley convertible in Athens. Greece had about 2,000 cars in total, people were poor and public transport terribly crowded and unreliable. Yanni and I would cruise up and down Zographos -- an Athenian area named after his family -- offering taxi rides to women; yet again I can confirm that in the 40 years leading up to his death neither he nor I ever managed to persuade a single member of the female sex to get into the bloody Bentley.

Hence you can understand my insecurity on arriving in a pick-up paradise like St Tropez and finding hardly any women pushing prams, and traffic jams so humungous that people were abandoning their cars in order to walk to their destination. Mind you, after 51 years of being shot down, I've now discovered the pick-up line to end all pick-up lines. But first let me set the scene:

I anchored the boat in front of Tahiti Plage and went to lunch at Club 55, where the rich, fat and mostly ugly people congregate.

There were about ten of us -- Nick Scott, Chantal Hanover, Tim Hoare, Richard Northcott, Bolle and Debbie Bismarck, Sir Bob Geldof and a couple of pretty young things. All sorts of loose and chesty broads were table-hopping trying to catch Saint Bob's eye. That is when I had my brainstorm. 'Hello, again, ' I would shout, and the line worked as if by magic. As everyone is more or less always stoned in St Tropez, the word 'again' meant that we had already been properly introduced, and perhaps even been intimate. There were smiles of recognition, however faint, and then a mad rush to sit next to the pop icon. Even later on in the evening, the line stood the test of time. Bob Geldof was amazed. 'He's effing 70 effing years old, and his effing line effing works, ' he announced.

Of course, it all ended in tears when the mother of my children arrived and decided I had been burning the candle at both ends.

Every morning I'd get up no matter how wrecked the night before, and do tennis drills with the wonderful pro Nigel Armstrong, whom the Bismarcks employ to turn their four boys into future Federers. …

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