Magazine article The Spectator

Sky's the Limit

Magazine article The Spectator

Sky's the Limit

Article excerpt

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Let me take you away from politics for a bit, and bring you down here to Myrtle Beach, a downmarket Miami Beach but with much nicer and friendlier locals. There is even a Hemingway Street - Papa came fishing around here - which would never happen in Miami. Only porn stars and drug dealers have streets named after them in that sweaty Sodom and Gomorrah, although the city did once allow Xaviera Hollander, author of The Happy Hooker, to ride on a float on the 4th of July.

First things first, however.

I flew to Myrtle Beach with some other judokas for the US National Championships and although I ended up with a gold medal, I only fought palookas, as they used to say in the world of boxing. Old men no longer care to mix it, so I think I'll throw in the towel next year. What was far, far harder was the trip. At La Guardia Airport Delta check-in I was informed that my name was not on the list of passengers. After I insisted I be shown the list - weigh-in was three hours away and I had to make that flight - the check-in genius gave in and showed me a few names starting with T. 'See, ' said the Delta idiot, 'you're not on it.' Just above Thompson I saw the name Theodoracopulos, Taki, so I asked him to match that name with the one on the passport he was holding. 'You're not on the list, ' insisted Sherlock.

After a supervisor arrived and checked me in, I asked him how Delta could have an illiterate behind the counter. He shook his head but said nothing. Racial quotas, I believe.

After an uneventful flight where we got to meet some rude hatchet-faced stewardesses came the weigh-in and some training and the inevitable sleepless night. I was with my coach Teimoc, who also won gold, my trainer Ali, an Uzbeki Olympian who eats very tough guys for breakfast, and my old buddy Jeff 'stand up, stand up for Jesus' Jansz, a man with whom I used to spar in karate 45 years ago. (He now works for the Church, is as poor as a church mouse, and gives me non-stop warnings about how I will end up in hell unless I stop doing what I do. ) The night after the tournament I got very, very drunk and arrived at the airport still under the influence. This is where my Odyssey began in earnest.

Instead of an illiterate, Delta had an imbecile running the show this time, an imbecile who insisted the flight back was on time - now get this - even after one hour had elapsed following the 5.40 scheduled departure. …

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