Magazine article The Spectator

High Life

Magazine article The Spectator

High Life

Article excerpt

Welcome, Mr 2014, if you turn out as good as Mr 2013 was, we'll get along just fine.

Throughout last year, I got happier and happier. In fact, it keeps getting better and better and at times I think there must be something very wrong with me. But I should not tempt fate, nor the Gods, because one's fortune can change quicker than an Italian government.

What it comes down to is that the mystery of joy does not pose a problem for me. I treat it as a constant, rather than as a fleeting experience. Is it a Norma Desmond-like delusion?

I don't think so, because joy is not only a way of life, there is also a trick to it: anticipation.

Can anything top the feeling just before an assignation with, say, Amber Tamblyn, my latest crush? (I have never met her, but now that I'm a Hollywood star . . . Seduced & Abandoned, just read Deborah Ross. ) As the poet said, 'Never such innocence, never before or since.' Or the marvellous feeling and uncontrollable joy of overcoming the odds of old age at a sporting event? Taking the 6ft 8in Bo Svenson out at the judo world championships made my day for the rest of 2013. My daughter's engagement to Andy Cooke brought even more pleasure, and I didn't even have to sweat for it. A great drunken afternoon at The Spectator for the readers' tea party, and the bacchanal that ensued throughout that night was as good as it gets, and leading up to Christmas my party in New York at the Waverley Inn, my New Year's Eve blast in Gstaad, and the dinner for Andy and Lolly three days later rounded off a perfect season.

So, is joy derived purely through drunkenness, partying and the occasional sporting victory? Of course not, joy is a state of mind. We all know bad drunks - there's nothing worse - and people who turn weepy the moment the grape hits home. Drink for me is like a bazooka blast, a trumpet call to start acting silly perhaps, but joyfully. Why else should one drink, except for the effect? And there are so many other joys to experience without being in the company of Dionysus: the small American town dreamscapes of drug stores, fishing holes and sunny Sunday mornings in church as depicted by a Norman Rockwell illustration. An old village green and thatched cottages of the English countryside seen early in the morning mist while returning from a dance. The gentle yet profoundly moving foibles of the Greek past as recounted by an oldie in a Spartan village square. The civic virtues still in play, however rare. There are just too many joys to list, and to hell with those who see only the brutish philistinism that has become so prevalent. …

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