Taki Taki

High life | 1 November 2008

Classic decline

New York

America’s diminished intellectualism has made this interminable election period as boring as a Nat Rothschild Corfu party for respectable folk. Part of the problem is that presidential candidates try ‘to reach out to younger voters’, hardly an admirable goal as demographic researchers have gone the way of TV programmers, targeting young morons whose Facebooks comprise 90 per cent of their education. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain have all been forced to make appearances on vile and vulgar TV shows — proof that taking the high ground is as much of a vote-getter as George Osborne’s chances of being invited back to Nat’s Corfu lair. It all started with Bill Clinton — who else? — when the Draft Dodger blew ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ through his saxophone on a cheap, late-night American show. The likelihood of reversing this trend is nil, but stranger things have happened. For example, Taverna Agni could be next year’s venue for the Tory party conference, or even for Labour’s. (Mind you, now that Nat’s Atticus fund has gone the way of Deripaska, maybe George will next do the honours in a rented cabana near Blackpool.)

Do any of you remember the time when politicians were careful about whom they hung out with? Even better, do any of you remember when MPs would communicate with each other — Tories, that is — by conversing in Greek or Latin? Then a eunuch sacked the great Enoch Powell from the front benches and the rot set in. I was once introduced to Enoch by Greville Howard, now Lord Howard, and he addressed me in ancient Greek. I didn’t dare answer in kind, although I understood him perfectly, my classical Greek being rather shaky. The study of those two languages, with their illuminations on morality and philosophy, reached a nadir during the greedy Eighties and Nineties, when students said to hell with the ancients, let’s all become investment bankers and high-tech millionaires.

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