Magazine article The Spectator

High Life

Magazine article The Spectator

High Life

Article excerpt

Walking into a dinner party for 50 chic and some not-so-chic people in a nearby village last week, I was confronted by a tall man with horn-rimmed glasses who called me his neighbour, but then added, 'No, you're not my neighbour what's your name?' No cunning linguist I, nor used to being barked at by nouveaux-riches whippersnappers, I turned my back on him and told him to 'look it up in the Almanach de Gotha, asshole!' He wasn't best pleased, especially as I also called him a dickhead. Now please don't think for a moment that I approve of my bad manners.

But nor do I accept some haemorrhoid of a man half my age acting like a cop in a cheap gangster movie circa 1936.

The name of the whippersnapper, whom I don't know, nor do I want to know, turned out to be Hunt, spelled with a capital 'C'. His very rich American wife is a nice woman, whose father was Mort Sackler, an inventor of some drug that made everyone happy, and also made him happy and a billionaire. What she should do is invest in a book of manners, or tutorials on social graces - they would be much cheaper- and teach John Hunt spelled with a 'c' to be less arrogant and less likely to be hit by an old-timer like me.

Mind you, Hunt's manners made him seem possessed of plenipotential dignity when compared with a Spaniard whose name is Macaque, someone whose loud voice and showy mannerisms made him as inconspicuous as a fully dressed cardinal in a whorehouse. With an ego the size of a football field, he made it impossible for anyone to remain within hearing distance, so his table emptied quicker than you can say monkey. So there you have it, dear readers, society at its best during the height of the Gstaad season 2014.

There are exceptions, of course. A dinner party by Dino Goulandris for the ex-prime minister of Canada, Brian Mulroney, and his wife Mila, was a wonderful evening, with the premier giving a graceful speech ending with a Yeats poem, and my host asking me to respond. My answer was that I might be plucky but I am not stupid. To respond after such an articulate and charming speech was like going to bed with a woman who had just made love with Rubirosa. Makes a man feel insufficient. (Incidentally, Brian Mulroney spoke with great affection about Conrad Black, and told us he was doing very well back in Canada. ) The next evening, Prince Pierre d'Arenberg and his beautiful wife Sylvia threw a hell of a bash for a hell of a lot of us, one that left me feeling that my nights were finite. But a good ski the next morning pumped me up enough to attend a great dinner given by Chaz Price and Jonathan Sieff and their wives, one that closed out the week that tripled the size of my liver but registered a minus as far as my years to come are concerned. …

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