Magazine article The Spectator

High Life

Magazine article The Spectator

High Life

Article excerpt

What was that about London and being tired of life? Or that flickering ecstasy of a long ago memory of being drunk at dawn and watching people going to work? Surely not at my age and in the year 2013, but there you have it. You can go home again, Thomas Wolfe had it all wrong. I felt at home all last week, at Loulou's, on Gerald Road, and in deep Oxfordshire.

Let's start with Gerald Road, where the Bismarcks gave a Pugs dinner to celebrate Bob Miller's 80th birthday, Bob being the Duty Free billionaire who - surprise, surprise - is as nice, down-to-earth and sporty a man as he is rich. We took the annual picture, the three oldies - Bob, George Livanos and myself - seated up front, youngsters such as Edward Hutley, Leopold Bismarck, Princes Pavlos and Nikolaos of Greece, Roger Taylor, Arki Busson, Tim Hoare and Nick Scott standing behind us. There was a cake in the shape of a boat, as Bob is a very good and record-holding yachtsman, lots of exotic drinks, and then the grey dawn was upon us.

(I did see the sun, but it was in Switzerland, before coming over here. ) Later on in the day, having chosen to flame out rather than rust out, I managed to stagger to our annual lunch, a stone's throw from Elizabeth Street, where our oldest member, Sir Christopher Lee, was already holding court. He is now 92, has been in more than 280 films, is far more lucid than I could ever be, and was applauded by strangers as he got up after a very liquid lunch and some not so articulate efforts at speechmaking by yours truly.

Getting reacquainted with a bed was a pleasant surprise later on in the afternoon, and the next thing I knew I was back at Loulou's, my old friend Robin Birley's life-saving club, at 5 Hertford Street. I call it a lifesaver because, like his old man, Robin knows how to hire the perfect staff. I was giving dinner to Aliki Goulandris, my daughter Lolly and her boyfriend Andy, and his beautiful sister Sacha. Then came the most pleasant of surprises. Nando, the walking death machine who was Annabel's doorman for 40 years and is now retired, tanned and healthy at 85 years young, heard that I was dining at Hertford Street and came down from Ealing to see me. We reminisced throughout dinner about Tim Hanbury hijacking a bus full of Japanese tourists while the driver was out having a pee in Berkeley Square and the Formula 1 driver and I who outdrove the chasing fuzz and to whom Nando swore we had never left the club (the automobile must have been stolen, sir) etc. , etc. , etc. Once again, up came the dawn and my little Lolly was begging me, 'Go home, daddy, you're starting to look green and I'm worried. …

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