Magazine article The Spectator

Matters of Fact

Magazine article The Spectator

Matters of Fact

Article excerpt

High life

Matters of fact


St Tropez

Like Rick, when asked why he would come to Casablanca for its non-existent waters, I presume the hack was misinformed. An item in the Evening Standard's Londoner's Diary had me announcing that I had gatecrashed Lynn Forester de Rothschild's party for the Clintons. 'Dearest Taki,' writes Lynn. 'You lied! Of course you were invited . . . ' A kind and sweet note from Lynn, except for the fact I never said it. At my age one simply doesn't gatecrash, but hacks have been known to make things up. Oh well, it wasn't very serious. What was serious and sad was the death of Philip Heslop, the Silk who brilliantly got me off the Fayed lawsuit. I had no idea he was ill. He told the Daily Telegraph that he relished representing me, and for that I am truly flattered. A very courteous and brilliant man gone. It's going to be like this from now on. But on to happier thoughts.

Such as that the key to preventing prostate cancer, we are now told, lies in a man's own hands. When young, that is. Frequent masturbation dramatically cuts the risk of the disease, according to scientists. All I can say is, hooray! I remember Mr Dallings, the wrestling coach at my American boarding school, who would give us a pep talk before important matches. 'Tomorrow we wrestle the Hill school, our traditional rivals; they have a very good team and you will need all your strength,' he would say, looking directly at me. This would infuriate me. 'Why are you looking at me, coach?' 'You know very well why,' he would answer. Life is unfair. Just because I had been to the Riviera and had tasted forbidden fruit did not make me a wanker, which of course I was.

And speaking of wankers, what about these Russian billionaires. Khodorkovsky, Berezovsky, Gusinsky, Abramovich, Sonofabitch . . . all Russia's wealth seems to be here in St Tropez and in London. Humongous superyachts, colossal houses, gargantuan egos, prodigious amount of hookers, all surrounded by mountainous bodyguards. By comparison, even the kleptocrats of Arabia look conservative. A friend of mine was given six weeks to fit out Chips Channon's great house in Belgrave Square. Starting from scratch. He managed it, but it cost the Cossack 25 million big ones. Pounds, not greenbacks. That's just for furnishing and decorating the pad. I have nothing against new wealth, but its provenance is important. The oligarchs are shipping their ill-gotten billions out of Russia quicker than you can say Ali Baba. …

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