Magazine article The Spectator

High Life: Taki

Magazine article The Spectator

High Life: Taki

Article excerpt

A famous epigrammatic nugget of wisdom appears in The Leopard, Lampedusa's great novel about a noble Sicilian family's fortunes: 'If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.' I thought of the novel as I was driven up to Gstaad during last week's heatwave. Disembarking in Geneva, I felt I was back in Nairobi, circa 1970, on my way to Mombasa and a romantic interlude among the elephants and wildebeest. The old continent now looks like Africa, especially in airports and public spaces. But things will have to change if we want things to stay the same, I told myself again and again.

In the coolness and quiet of the mountains one can think clearly about important things, such as ambition and lack of it, or the conundrum of whether one declines to try out of a false sense of decorum, or just plain laziness. Personal doubts aside, right now the great question seems to be the economic inequality generated by capitalism and free enterprise, and the egalitarian drive bursting out in anti-capitalist demonstrations and militant rage, as in London this week. Mind you, the impression I got from looking at British television was that Jeremy Corbyn had won the election, and that the Tories, in a fit of pique, had allowed the fire at the Grenfell estate to get out of hand and burn Africans and Muslims alive. Talk about the power of the idiot box and the irresponsibility of leftie hacks.

Britain now resembles Central America, where the loser, immediately after an election, declares it null and void and demands a repeat performance. What is the difference between John McDonnell's call for a million people to take to the streets and a banana-republic electoral loser's call for civil disobedience? The temperature, I suppose. Never mind. My social schedule is rather full, starting next week, and I thank the Almighty that I no longer go to Ascot to keep company with glorified hairdressers and other such nice folk.

I know, it sounds snobby as hell, but I've had it with this smouldering class resentment in Britain. We will always have differences in looks, intelligence and bank accounts, and if that causes outraged shrieks among do-gooders and phonies, too bad. Such is life. Immediately after the last world war, with all the large pleasure boats having been requisitioned by the warring states, I walked about the various marinas in the south of France and saw only tiny sailing boats or fishing vessels. …

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