Magazine article The Spectator

High Life: Taki

Magazine article The Spectator

High Life: Taki

Article excerpt

  Gstaad

I write this on 14 July, France's big day and the 25th anniversary of my father's passing. He died at dawn, on the bicentennial of the uprising, as if he couldn't bear French triumphalism of the foul event one more second. Actually he had a massive heart attack as he was preparing to go off on his boat. His butler found him and that was that. I think of him and certainly dream of him quite a lot, and I'm now three years younger than he was when he died.

The past is constantly on my mind nowadays. Those Athenian arches, balconies and painted façades that hid small gardens, the white stone buildings and colonnades that seemed so grand when I was a little boy, the jasmine scents of the royal gardens, the tunes the German soldiers sang as they marched in perfect step past our house on their way to the Acropolis each day. My wonderful German fräulein once told me that I would break a few hearts when I got older. What she didn't tell me was how often my heart would break when I got really old, like right now. A couple of weeks ago I had dinner with the prettiest girl in London, Georgie Wells. I introduced her around as the future Mrs Taki. She played along. The fact that I've been happily married for more than 40 years is beside the point, and a very bourgeois point, to boot. If Ms Wells gives me the go-ahead, things can change overnight. In the meantime I'm up in Gstaad, watching some cows billing and cooing while I think of young women and a distant past.

Last week on board a gin palace, two fellow guests were Alexander Rocos and his Chinese wife, Yuki Tan. Alex is a hell of a fellow, half Greek half English, and was a Newsweek photographer at the age of 14. He has done quite well, with homes in Athens, London, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore, and he speaks fluent Chinese. But it's his wife and the mother of his two children I want to talk about. I had never met her, and by the time she arrived on board I was in my cups. I paid her many compliments, as one tends to do when drunk, and she laughed and laughed in that particularly Chinese way women of that persuasion tend to do when round-eyes flatter them. Yuki speaks very good English but with a Chinese accent. She also uses American idioms that I find endearing. The next day on our way to the cave where St Paul lived and preached, I told her to cover up, as monks might mistake her for a boy and kidnap her. (She has a very sexy boyish figure.) 'Shut your trap,' she answered, 'you talk too much, and even talk underwater. …

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