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High life

Party peak

Broadsides from the pirate captain of the Jet Set

21 June 2003

12:00 AM

21 June 2003

12:00 AM

How quickly one forgets! The sweetness of life in London, come June, that is. Let’s start with the good news: Fort Belvedere. It was built as a folly in Windsor Great Park in 1755 by the second Duke of Cumberland, and enlarged by George IV who lent it the appearance of a fort. Edward VIII used it as a refuge to parry prurient types looking into his…er, sex life with Mrs Ward and Mrs Simpson. Just as well. Those were the good old pre-Murdochian days, and the less dirty minds knew, the better. More about Murdoch and privacy laws later on, but now for the party which I’m afraid has put all parties to shame, at least for another couple of hundred years.

Galen Weston is the Canadian billionaire who, unlike most very rich people I know, is a hell of an athlete. A good polo player, he also excels in tennis and golf –top amateur in both – his only weakness being that he’s a very nice, unpretentious fellow. It used to be that the very, very rich were different from normal people because, according to Papa Hemingway, they had more money. No longer. Now they’re crude, rude, vulgar and very, very common. Galen threw his bash for his wife’s birthday, Hilary Weston having just served as Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. As I said, the trouble with the party was that I never need go to another one again. I’ve peaked! Let’s face it, we’ve all been to many expensive bashes these last 40 years, but never to one with better taste. Mind you, with such a setting, it would take an incredible vulgarian, someone such as the likes of pornographer Richard Desmond, to fall short of producing a masterpiece.


Fort Belvedere – the Westons have a long lease and have turned the place into a Shangri-La – on a sundrenched Saturday evening in June is hard to beat. I arrived from the Bagel on my friend Terry Kramer’s plane, changed into a white dinner-jacket and arrived a second before a lady I will not mention but who ranks numero uno on any name-dropper’s list. (And non-name droppers’ also.) As if the Fort’s exquisite tableau with its rolling lawns, grass tennis courts and polo fields weren’t enough, there was a marquee that put most grand country houses to shame. An added bonus was the fact that the Westons had only their friends, so I counted very few shits in attendance, actually only one, an American with a phony English accent.

Needless to say, I got drunk, the first time since my operation two months ago. After dinner, the glass walls of the marquee miraculously opened, the Trevi-like fountain in the centre turned into a submerged bar, and the fireworks went off. It was Dresden without the destruction. They ended with Beethoven’s Ode to Joy blasting like a thousand B-17s, and that’s when I started to ask questions. Inspired by Papa Hemingway’s description of a climax as earth-moving, I went around asking various guests if the fireworks reminded them of their own love-making. It was only proper that I ask my benevolent proprietor first: ‘Yes, exactly, but without the German stuff at the end,’ said Lord Black. Mick Flick, the German heir to the Mercedes Benz fortune, was in a bragging mood: ‘This was only foreplay for me…’ My buddy George Livanos gave me a rueful smile and said, ‘Kathe mera,’ Greek for every day. Nick Simunek was as honest as the night was long: ‘The last time I saw stars was when a master hit me over the head in boarding school while I was at it by myself …’ After that one, I stopped asking.

Bryan Ferry did the cabaret, singing for at least an hour without drawing breath, and by this time I had fallen madly in love with Queen Noor of Jordan, who politely but firmly refused my offer to accompany her to London. What a girl! Between her, Maya Schonburg, Alannah Weston and Chloe Delavigne, I would have gladly been drawn and quartered, if only a piece of the poor little Greek boy could have been taken home by the ladies mentioned above.

Oh well, it was not to be, but never mind. There’s always the next life, when I come back as Don Giovanni and try these ladies once again. And speaking of the Don, my speech at the Oxford Union went OK, the important part of it being giving advice to the lovelorn president of the Union. Thank God, Charlie Glass, Marcus Scriven and the beautiful Kate Reardon drove down with me, otherwise there might have been a few empty seats. While speaking, I took a few swipes at the Murdoch press, and was delighted to see the smiles of my young listeners. Things like ‘Murdoch is an insatiable parasite, a vampirish lamprey who fastens himself to English-speaking nations and grows fat on their cultural lifeblood, leaving permanently degraded media cultures in his wake…’ I could go on but I’ll save it for another day. For the moment I’m still thinking of Fort Belvedere, and Murdochian dirt and the Fort don’t mix.


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