Magazine article The Spectator

Too Old to Move

Magazine article The Spectator

Too Old to Move

Article excerpt

New York

When I first began this column in 1977 all I did was describe my wild partying at Annabel's and Tramp, plus my regular forays on: a) Bushido, my sailing boat, b) Bruern Abbey, my rented ancestral country seat in Oxfordshire, c) the GreenGo of Gstaad, d) Xenon and Studio 54, of Big Bagel nightclub renown. It was an easy column to write, made easier by the fact that back then it was one big name-drop, an unheard-of occurrence in the elegant but formal Speccie pages.

Well, in no time Jeff Bernard and I lowered the bar, so to speak, Jeff being the first writer ever to use the F-word. When I emulated him, the copy was spiked, and I was told that the F-word was permitted in `Low life' `for accuracy's sake ... this is how people talk in the Coach and Horses, but not in Annabel's'.

Twenty-two years later, name-dropping sure ain't what it used to be. Nightclubs nowadays are full of lawyers and investment bankers, and when was the last time anyone dropped a shyster lawyer's name? They are also full of professional gays and PR types; the latter, with their insincere, metallic smiles, as unappealing a crowd as I have never seen outside Cannes during the-]month of August. Ergo, the column slowly evolved into one long lament about lost elegance and the disappearance of good manners. Mind you, my liver had a lot to do with it. One can't write from home about the high life in nightclubs. Back in the good old days, especially when on board Bushido, I could drink and stay up for four days and nights running, with a couple of hours of rest in between binges. No longer. Two nights of celebration and I'm out for the rest of the week. Last year I missed three great parties in a row because I'd overdone things at the beginning of the week. Last week I missed two great parties in London because I was in the Bagel and felt too old to move. So I sent the mother of my children and my two kids instead, and they came back declaring that London is the place to have a good time.

Needless to say, I now regret it like hell. Not having flown over, that is. Alexandra left on the morning flight, and the kiddies followed in the evening. With one hour to departure time, they were still giggling and trying to get their act together. Then they kissed me goodbye and clattered down the stairs, screaming and laughing, and I was left alone. …

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