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High life

Good guys, bad guys

Taki lives the High Life 

27 February 2008

12:00 AM

27 February 2008

12:00 AM

Taki lives the High Life 

An interesting week, to say the least. A Carlton Club speech on multiculturalism which didn’t quite come off, a kidnapping in Gstaad, a party in London to celebrate David Tang’s knighthood, the mugging of John McCain by the man who committed adultery with Emma Gilbey, a great Pug’s club lunch at our new premises, and the addition of two more members to the world’s most exclusive club. Let’s start with the kidnapping, a first for Gstaad.


The American lady who was grabbed outside the Palace hotel in broad daylight is married to a Greek close friend of mine who bought Asprey’s last year. He deals in private equity and they were coming to my house for dinner that evening. She was grabbed by three hooded men, bundled into a car 50 yards from the hotel and forced to lie on the floor while it sped away. After 15 minutes, she was almost thrown out of the speeding car having first surrendered her large diamond ring and assorted baubles. She made her way back with the help of a friendly farmer and spent the best part of the evening being interviewed by the fuzz. Like English cops, the local gendarmes know how to give parking tickets in a jiffy but catching the bad guys is not their specialty. A burnt-out car was found five days later somewhere in the Canton de Vaud, but that’s as close as they got to solving the crime.

Personally, I was convinced at first that the perpetrators were Russian oligarchs, who since becoming multibillionaires had missed stealing and the thrill of being chased by cops, but it seems the bad guys spoke French, a language as foreign to oligarchs as the concept of fair play. My friends are now back in the Big Bagel, their Gstaad holiday ruined by the resort’s attraction for nouveaux-riches, vulgar celebrity wannabees and criminal elements, all fuelled by local greed which cannot resist a buck, no matter where that buck comes from.

My Carlton Club dinner speech on multiculturalism also ran into trouble. The name of it was Ann Widdecombe. She spoke first and said everything that had to be said, leaving me stranded at the post. There’s nothing one can do in such situations — no use repeating what she had just stated and very articulately at that — so I made a few jokes at which no one laughed, stuttered a bit, complimented Ann on having remained a virgin, and sat down to a thunderous silence. Oh well, my friend Sergei Cristo, the organiser, did not think it too bad, but then Sergei thinks Lincoln’s visit to the Ford theatre was also a success.

Which brings me to the unsuccessful attempt by the Bagel Times to smear John McCain. Bill Keller, the executive editor, must have known that it was a non-story. There was no proof, no witnesses, not even an accuser. Just speculation based on a simple acquaintance. Well, it’s not always man meets woman, shakes hands and off to bed they go. McCain is not a rapper or a rock star. Keller, however, is another story altogether. Keller was a married man with two children carrying on with Emma Gilbey, an Englishwoman who had burnt her bridges in London and had moved to Washington. In her own account, which she wrote for the Telegraph, Keller came home to his family one day with the news that his girlfriend was expecting and that he would do the right thing. He subsequently divorced his wife and married la Gilbey. Like most Times editors and writers, Keller is a hypocrite nonpareil, assuming that McCain must be guilty while desperately trying to sink his chances of becoming president. The fact that Keller got trapped by a bun in the oven must have played a role in deciding to run the non-story. Why should McCain get away with it when I didn’t…

Never mind. Last week I put all that behind me while I lunched with Christopher Lee, Count Bismarck, Prince Pavlos and Nick Scott at our new premises at the Fox club. Christopher Lee is a delight. He told us wonderful stories about the good old days of film, wore his Pug’s club tie with pride, and announced he had put his membership in Who’s Who, ignoring other clubs and honours. (Incidentally, where is the knighthood for Christopher, a star for more than 50 years?) The trouble with the lunch (Uma Thurman is our housekeeper, having accepted our offer and lowly salary with alacrity) was that the wine was so good I was a mumbling, dribbling wreck by the time I arrived at Sir David Tang’s bash at the Dorchester.

I remember little, except Jemima Khan’s sexy leggings and thighs, her ignoring me while flirting with young whippersnapper Dan Macmillan, our very own chief executive’s kind warning that I was no longer young (thanks, Andrew, as if I can ever forget it), my making a fool of myself by screaming, ‘Why Sir David and not Sir Taki,’ the fresh beauty of Rosie Hanbury, Tom Parker Bowles dressed as if he were at Glastonbury, and Debbie Bismarck’s legs. After that it was all a blur except for the beauty I met at the Henkels, but by then I had become a bore. (A quick word about my host. I went to his mother’s house in Düsseldorf back in 1956. It was during the tennis tournament and the Henkels had laid out the silver in their grand house. The Mexican team pocketed most of it until their captain, a South African, made them return it. Her son is just as generous but there were no Mexicans this time.)


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