I suppose it’s a kind of solace during these snowy times that Norway, the country with the world’s highest per capita income, has not missed a single working day through inclement weather, and as I write there are 30 feet of snow covering the country. In some areas much more than 30 feet of the white stuff, yet the bars are packed at night with people who have put in a hard day’s work and wish to relax. Oh, yes, I almost forgot, the last time the schools closed in Norway was when the Wehrmacht occupied her, and only for half a day at that. (German lessons in the afternoon.)
Ditto in Switzerland. I’ve never heard of a bus or train running late or being cancelled owing to bad weather, except when an avalanche hit the valley and cut off Lauenen (a tiny hamlet six klicks east) from Gstaad, on 1 January 2000. The wife of a visiting Englishman had gone there for an assignation and her lover got stuck with her for three whole days and nights. That cooled off the red-hot romance, and since then everything has been hunky dory between the Englishman and the wife.
And speaking of sex, romance and assignations, call me a prude or an old fart, but reading a septuagenarian grandmother’s diaries about how she got stuffed by Harold Pinter while married to the sainted Hugh Fraser didn’t exactly race my motor. And in the family home, to boot. Then in the Telegraph I read that old Harold was two-timing his mistress Joan Bakewell with Barbara Stanton some 40 years ago. I knew Babs in New York, when she was Barbara Condos, a divorcee who was very sexy but quite downmarket. I think we hit the clubs a couple of times but then — if memory serves — she possibly went out with my father. In death, Harold Pinter is presented as some kind of Don Giovanni — by the women he left behind, that is, as I don’t believe he ever bragged about the fairer sex. Getting it on with Antonia, Barbara, Joan and Vivien might seem impressive to some, but it’s really fourth-division stuff. We should leave Pinter where he belongs, among Britain’s best playwrights, and not write about him as some third-rate Don Juan, which he most likely was.
Although I’ve been pursuing the fairer sex since I realised boys and girls were built differently, I thank God I have never had the urge to spill the beans about the times I got lucky and with whom. First of all, it’s the quickest way of stopping getting lucky — men who talk are worse than those with crabs, according to Madame Claude, the famous madam of Paris during the Sixties. Plus it sounds awful. I was once in a sauna with three very famous playboys during Edmond de Rothschild’s party in Megève in 1963, a blast that was designed to last three days and nights. We were recovering and trying to sweat it out when a certain lady’s name came up. She was a famous film star. We all looked at each other because all four of us had stepped out with her. No one said a word except for Jean Poniatowski, descendant of Napoleon’s marshal who died during the retreat from Russia. ‘I’ve never met her,’ he said, ‘what’s she like?’ ‘Leave the sauna at once,’ said Gianni Agnelli, and we all burst out laughing. Jean remained nonplussed. He was the only one who hadn’t gotten lucky, and it was Agnelli’s way of pointing this out. But that was as far as it went. None of this detailed crap of today, from both men and women. I suppose publicity is what it’s all about, except that the women I grew up with didn’t do that sort of thing. There.
Mind you, there are worse things than bad taste and indiscretions, like shooting and killing football players in Africa, where else. The Confederation of African Football called the murders in Angola a one-off, but that’s like saying South Africa is safe: 50 murders per day in that once wonderful country, and the greedy charlatans who run football are trying to convince us that the World Cup is not a magnet for terrorist acts. The Dark Continent is an extremely violent place, and a life is worth very, very little down there. PC pimps pretend otherwise, but take it from Taki. The place will remain unlivable until we stop shovelling money to the thugs who pose as heads of state and demand the minimum of safety standards. A bit north-east of that unpleasant place, in Yemen to be exact, a suspected killer lives in great luxury. In the meantime, a Norwegian family mourns the loss of their daughter, Martine Vik Magnussen, a student at London’s Regent’s Business School. She was raped and murdered in London on 16 March 2008, and the last person with her was the Yemeni Farouk Abdulhak, who flew out on his old man’s private jet hours after the murder. Remember the name: Farouk Abdulhak, the prime suspect. You might run into him in South Africa this summer.