Magazine article The Spectator

High Life: Taki

Magazine article The Spectator

High Life: Taki

Article excerpt

As Jacob Rees-Mogg said in a different context, a happy birthday at my age is a terminological inexactitude. I needed the birthday I had last week like a hole in the head, to coin a brand new expression. Mind you, the miasma of misinformation that deals with maturity never fails to depress. The ancient Greeks did respect old age, but they got old in their late twenties. An 80-year-old in old Athens would be a 250-year-old in today's world. There is nothing better than youth, and it's certainly not wasted on the young, Lord Henry. Everything works, injuries disappear after a night's sleep, a broken heart mends at the sight of someone new, one's too busy to notice the stupidity of others, too intolerant of weakness to acknowledge one's own. Talk about looking at the world through rose-tinted glasses. Most important of all is that youth lacks a timetable. Tomorrow really never comes.

I was once madly in love with an actress married to Tyrone Power, and she spent my money quicker than Usain Bolt used to run the 100. My father was appalled and refused further funds. So I went to a Mafia guy in New York and borrowed $2,000 and signed a note that I would pay back $4,000 in one week's time. A week back then -- I was 18 -- was like ten years today. Anything could happen: nuclear war, a natural catastrophe, maybe an asteroid would hit the Bagel. So Linda and I flew to Paris and had a pretty good time, and then I cut the holiday short by one day and like an absconding party-crasher flew to Athens when a sudden desire to see my parents overcame me. Or perhaps the moolah had run out. The first person I met as I came into my house was a New Yorker whose face looked familiar. I owed him 4,000 greenbacks. Dad was very understanding. He paid the Mafioso, praised me in front of him for my business acumen, and then dispatched me to the Sudan to work in his textile factory, fully air-conditioned, I might add.

See what I mean about youth? One doesn't give a damn, one fears nothing, not even the Mafia, and one never worries about tomorrow. And Khartoum wasn't such a bad place back then. I hung out and hit balls with the great tennis player Gottfried von Cramm, socialised with Alfried Krupp at the Gordon nightclub, and was in love with Grace, the greatest beauty of her time and of that place. Plus I had a driver, Zacki, and a personal servant Abdu, whereas before my punishment/banishment I had neither. …

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