Magazine article The Spectator

Good Manners

Magazine article The Spectator

Good Manners

Article excerpt

A friend of mine who wishes to remain nameless told me a story too good to resist. Paul Johnson, Andrew Roberts, Robin Birley, Charlie Glass and myself were in Harry's Bar following the Speccie party when my friend approached from a neighbouring table. 'My 16-year-old daughter, working up at Oxford, was introduced to Bill Clinton as an intern, and a terribly embarrassing silence followed . . ." Funnily enough, I had just attended Lynn Forester de Rothschild's reception at the Orangery in Kensington for Hillary Clinton, a reception, incidentally, in which I behaved impeccably despite my feelings towards the Draft Dodger, who bombed Serbia to smithereens from 15,000 feet and not an inch closer. I suppose it all has to do with good manners. Politics take second place to them, or so it should. I did not have to accept Evelyn and Lynn de Rothschild's invitation to meet Hillary but, once I had, of course I had to behave.

As it happens, the Clintons had not arrived when I got there, so after a short talk with Sir Trevor McDonald about 'how I like you despite the terrible things you write about people' ('Ah, my dear Trevor, you have not met the new, laser-improved Taki . . .') I left in order to attend our 175th anniversary at Doughty Street. Then it was time for Harry's Bar and gravitas and not a small amount of jokes about the poor little Greek boy meeting the Clintons face to face. The good Dr Paul Johnson has asked me to desist from attacking wives of politicians - I suspect he has Cherie in mind - and I'm afraid he's right. Hillary, of course, is now a politician in her own right, but, as George Genghis Bush is not exactly racing my motor with his martial plans to improve the planet, I might as well lay off her also.

All I can say is that the old adage of absence makes the heart grow fonder was never truer than in my case. With England, to be exact. Despite the fact that my much too brief stay ended with a batting disaster - yes, another duck - and a loss to Badminton village, I can now compete with the best of village cricketers where fielding is concerned. In fact, just call me Thermopylae Taki. Nothing gets through as long as I'm alive. At the sound of the crack of the bat, I leap up like a flushed gazelle and throw my aging body in the way of the rocket. …

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