Magazine article The Spectator

Dinner Dates

Magazine article The Spectator

Dinner Dates

Article excerpt

New York

The Metropolitan club is situated on 5th Avenue and 60th Street, as good an address as one can aspire to in the Big Bagel. Architecturally it is by far the grandest club of its kind, with large, ornate rooms, sweeping staircases and beautifully frescoed ceilings. The membership, I suspect, is not as grand as the building. It's probably made up of lawyers, high-priced accountants and a banker or two, the kind of people not to be caught with in a snowstorm. Mind you, perhaps I'm being unfair, as I have never met anyone who belongs to it.

The Metropolitan was built by J.P. Morgan after a friend of his was blackballed by the Knickerbocker club, two blocks north. Until this week, I always thought it was the other way round, but having seen the grandeur of the place two nights running, there is no way old J.P. would have built the less glamorous Knickerbocker.

The first party was given by my friends Lisa and Keith Jewell for Nicholas Gage's book on Greece. Lisa is the sister of the nicest and most generous Greek ever, Alecko Papamarkou, who died last May from a heart attack. New York is not the same without Alecko's party-giving, but his sister did almost as well. I sat next to Anna Murdoch, now separated from the Don Giovanni of the deal, as the late Sir James Goldsmith called Rupert baby. Although she made a brave effort, Anna Murdoch must be going through hell. It is very difficult after 32 years of marriage and three children to suddenly find yourself out in the cold. Well, not really the cold, but you know what I mean. It always amazes me when men get rid of their wives late in life. It's very nice to have young girlfriends, something I always try to have, but one sticks to one's old lady.

Needless to say, the champagne and the excellent wine went to my head. Literally. I was the last to leave and dragged myself to Elaine's where I mixed it up with the proles until dawn. Later that day it was dinner jackets and tiaras, yet again at the Metropolitan, this time at the request of Conrad Black, The Spectator's benevolent and sainted proprietor. (I say this because Conrad is a very humble man. He has from day one discouraged lle from kissing his feet, something that o r previous benevolent proprietor, Algy Cluff, encouraged.)

It was the annual Hollinger dinner, with Lady Thatcher, Henry Kissinger, Gianni Agnelli, Valery Giscard d'Estaing, Lords Hanson, Rothschild, Carrington and Weidenfeld, William Buckley, George Will, Bob Tyrrell, you name them they were there. …

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