Magazine article The Spectator

High Life: Taki

Magazine article The Spectator

High Life: Taki

Article excerpt


It's my last week in the Alps, and the snow is gone, replaced by brilliant sunshine. Silence reigns, broken only by the occasional clear, sharp wind. The town is now empty and clean, and the air bracing. I love the village out of season, when the shoppers have finally gone and the locals are preparing to release the cows into the mountains. Training at altitude will make it easy to go at it hard once I am back in the city -- at least for a week or two. There is nothing like a three-month Alpine break for the old ticker.

Dinner parties out of season are very gay affairs between old friends. Vivien Duffield gave one last week that could have been written by a Hollywood scriptwriter. An Italian nobleman of impeccable breeding forgot himself and took all the asparagus, leaving the rest of us staring at our empty plates. After some subtle coughing, we all began to laugh, and he turned red. The Langoa-Barton 1982 helped. We killed five bottles of it. Afterwards I went into a nearby village where the locals hang out. As the song says, 'It's just the usual thing, that attacks one in the spring, when the breezes gently moan, and there is no chaperone.' Mind you, in my case, it's more a case of 'Where is the life that late I led? Where is it now? Totally dead.'

I watched Federer on television win big at Indian Wells, moving as he has never moved before, even as a young man. The reason he's beating everyone is an improved backhand. He now takes it earlier and more flat -- he almost half-volleys the ones he doesn't slice -- and when you take it early you can go up to the net and finish the point. That is easy to say, but one needs great conditioning to do it. My only worry is that he's peaked too soon. Winning in March is not the same as winning in July and August, when the big ones come around.

Everyone loves Roger, because he acts like the old-timers used to, and by that I don't mean John McEnroe (a great television commentator, incidentally). The Swiss had a few lean years, which coincided with the unfailing presence in his box of American Vogue editor Anna Wintour. There was no monkey business, but fashion bullshit makes an athlete take his eye off the ball, no pun intended. Having a Vogue editor in one's box must be like wearing swimming trunks into battle -- incongruous. He's now surrounded by his parents, wife and twins, and hitting less top spin and winning big.

And speaking of Vogue, I read in National Review a hilarious article about Teen Vogue's rallying cry against the Hitler of our age: how to rise, resist and raise your voice against the Donald. …

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