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High life

A family affair

Taki lives the High Life

12 March 2008

12:00 AM

12 March 2008

12:00 AM

Around 15 years or so ago I was fast asleep late in the morning when I got an ear-splitting telephone call from Greece. It was Vicki Woods, a Telegraph writer, and she sounded anxious. If memory serves, and it does because she subsequently wrote a piece about it which made it into The Week, the conversation went as follows: ‘Oh, hello, my name’s Vicki Woods, we’ve met a couple of times… ah, at The Spectator.’ Me: ‘Have we made love?’ Vicki: ‘Er — no! Ha-ha — absolutely not! But I’m ringing because…’ Me: ‘Why not?’ Vicki: ‘Well, I’m not your type, ha-ha, too old for you for one thing; anyway, the reason I’m ringing is…’ Me: ‘How old are you?’ Vicki: ‘Er, forty-seven, but anyway, I’m ringing because…’ — Me: ‘Forty-seven. My God! Forty-seven! Get off the phone at once.’ So she did.

Yes, I know, it sounds terrible but at the time I thought it rather funny. Not so funny, as it turned out, for Vicki Woods and her poor husband. Apparently they were on the Greek island of Naxos, and had had a car accident, her hubby was bleeding and there was no one around who spoke English. So she did the next best thing and called me. The trouble was she had acted English. By this I mean old English. Instead of immediately stating that this was an emergency and my help was needed, she began like an Evelyn Waugh character, hello, oh, hello, hello, and so on. I thought she was some hackette ringing to find out gossip, and I reverted to type, the type hacks think I am — a conceited, arrogant womaniser who is always rude to women and the needy — and I played my part to the hilt. When I read in her column what the call was all about I felt like emigrating to Albania, but by then her hubby had recovered thanks to the Greek nurses that Lord Mancroft did not meet during his recent stay in hospital.


I think I met Vicki Woods years later  at a Spectator party, but I believe I was a bit under the weather and did not manage a proper apology. Anyway, she looked peeved, as well she should have. Now she’s back in my thoughts once again. This time it has nothing to do with sex, although sex, as in procreation, is involved. She has written a piece comparing Labour’s practice of passing down parliamentary safe seats to relatives to the Mafia habit of keeping it in the family. Once again I have to get into her bad books because what I’d like to know is, what’s wrong with keeping it in the family?

In the days when Europe was dominated by the landed aristocracy and the Church, values such as virtue, courage, respect and obedience were paramount. Fathers passed them on to their children and that was that. European societies took their cue from the past. None of this modern crap, such as worrying about a thug’s self-esteem, was tolerated. Fathers had the right to punish their children if the kids acted like gangsters, which children are known to do. Sure, nepotism is frowned on in electoral democracies, and all one has to do is observe the disaster of George W. as compared with George H.W., but then George H.W.’s father was not exactly a homeless person. Prescott Bush was a senator and a millionaire and the first thing his first-born did was to volunteer and become the youngest naval aviator to see action once Uncle Sam had forced Japan to attack. (Unlike Blair’s brood, who have stayed out of the conflicts their old man has involved this country in.)

Better yet, look at the House of Lords as it was, and look at it now. We now live in a society where traditional morality has lost its hold on the masses, and no substitutes are provided, certainly not by the House of Lords. Tony Blair’s relentless efforts to ingratiate himself with celebrities and the very rich mirror those of the worthies he named to the upper house. The trouble is looking at them makes me want to puke. So again, what’s wrong with hereditaries and keeping it in the family? Remember when football teams were owned by the community or by benevolent locals who had struck it rich? Teams were passed down from elders to a younger generation, or so I like to think when I contemplate the horrors of today’s owners. There is nothing worse than the modern game of football — a cheater’s paradise full of whingers, phoneys and overpaid prima donnas — except for modern owners. Have you ever seen anything like the dead eyes of those criminals who have laundered their ill-gotten moolah by purchasing football teams? And the morons who still pack the stadiums in order to cheer the prima donnas are almost as bad. Teams can now be bought and sold like shares on the stock market. Those ghastly brothers who own Manchester United could offload the club the second they’ve made the loot they borrowed on the assets of the club quicker than you can say Jack Robinson, as could those who own Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool. That is why I was so happy to see the vile Chelsea team defeated last Saturday. Every little bit helps.

If 17-year-old Emily Benn, selected by East Worthing and Shoreham Labour party as their candidate, makes it to Parliament, of course it will have helped that she is the fifth generation of Benns, and what’s wrong with that? I never agreed with a thing Tony Benn said when I was young, and now I can’t think of a thing he says I disagree with. If she’s as pretty as people say she is, Emily deserves to make it on her looks alone. Just as Hillary (Grotesque) Clinton deserves to lose on her looks alone. I like pudgy figures on women, but in her case I’d rather die a virgin. Let’s keep it in the family.


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