Magazine article The Spectator

Secrets and Lies

Magazine article The Spectator

Secrets and Lies

Article excerpt

Gstaad

In the good old days of the Cold War, Athenian hacks used to say that there were only two countries where secrets were safe: China and Greece. In the former nobody talked. In the latter everyone did, hence no one believed a word. I thought of the saying during a chic Gstaad dinner party when people were heard to complain about an article that had appeared in Tatler. 'How can they get it so wrong?' was the gist of it. 'Who has ever heard of these people?' So out I went and bought a copy of the magazine and read the offending piece. Written by a nice woman, Vassi Chamberlain, it is in the breathless, eager-to-please, hyperbolic Tatler style. Vassi got to the right people all right, but to a person all refused to be named or interviewed. Like in Cold War China. So the poor girl did the next best thing -- she wrote about social wannabes and nouveauxriches vulgarians who were eager to give her access and to drop names. This is a very old story. When the right people won't talk to you, the wrong ones will. But, as in Cold War Greece, don't believe a word of it because it's all BS. (The Rosey an exclusive boarding school? Yes, for the sons and daughters of Russian hoodlums; and the Eagle the hardest club in the world to get into? Now that's a real belly laugh. ) Still, Vassi did as good a job as could be done under the circumstances, but identifying the Graham Bournes as leading figures of the Gstaad social scene is a bit like referring to Ken Livingstone as a gentleman.

And speaking of getting it wrong, Ephraim Hardcastle, Peter McKay in real life, has had another go at the poor little Greek boy, calling me odious and a few other choice epithets. I suppose if one dishes it out one should be able to take it, and I do, but McKay, a jolly roly-poly Scot, should check his facts better. I won't bore you with the facts, but when I complained on behalf of the locals who cannot afford a drink in the chic watering places of this alpine village, he made it look as if I were complaining for myself. Never mind, McKay is funny and wicked, and when I once asked him for a favour to help a lady friend whose underage daughter had been abused and driven to her grave by a grotesque pervert, he immediately gave it and was great about it. My one bone with him is calling the astral Keira Knightley skeletal. If she's skeletal, I'll gladly spend the rest of my life rattling around in her bed. …

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