High life | 16 March 2017

I’ve finally shaken off the flu: it’s party time

High life | 16 March 2017
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At a chic dinner party last week, a friendly chow as big and black as a dog can be without being a bear sniffed a lady’s bum during pre-dinner drinks. I happened to be standing behind the lady and she raised her hand in anger. ‘It was Bessie the dog,’ I stammered. ‘What is wrong with you? I don’t do this no more.’ The lady in question is of a certain age, and the last one at the party I’d have goosed, but such are the joys of a bad reputation.

Oh yes, before I forget, Marina, Princess of Savoy, who one month ago accused me of having locked her up for two days on board my boat, has now recanted, and admits that it was another awful Greek ship owner who did the dastardly deed. She also admitted that had it been me — this happened 50 years ago — she would gladly have been locked up. ‘You used to be cute,’ was how she put it. I think she’s being much too kind.

As always, what bliss it is to feel healthy again. In fact, it leads to far too much partying. Arki Busson, seducer and impregnator of film stars and hedge-fund manager extraordinaire, blew into town and stayed next-door chez Geoffrey Moore. I was best man at Arki’s parents’ wedding more than 50 years ago, and such was the ensuing disaster that no one has ever asked me to perform that task again. But I love Arki because he is a very bad boy in the good sense of the word. His arrival at my new chalet caused an upheaval. We stayed up until 5 a.m. and left the place looking like a Cuban (before Castro) whorehouse on a Sunday morning. The Mother of My Children was not best pleased but she, too, loves Arki, so all was forgiven.

The festivities continued high up at the Eagle Club the next day, but wiser heads prevented me from attending. My son stood in for his grievously hungover father, and by taking a day off I was able to rejoin the fiesta until Arki finally bade us goodbye and took off to Hong Kong and pressing business deals with the tricky Chinese. The other good news is that Michael Mailer flew in from New York and hit the party scene without missing a beat. He went off skiing with me, on no sleep, and after the all-night blast skied with my speed-demon son and made it back alive.

Think of the peacock thrill of being looked at that a very fast skier enjoys courtesy of the safety-first crowd, and you have an accurate picture of my son. I worry about it but I’m also rather proud. My daughter also goes tearing around, but she prefers racing between gates. It’s strange how with age fear kicks in like a force-nine gale. I can no longer keep up with my children, something I find as humiliating as being barged out of the way by younger men on the dancefloor. Thank God I no longer dance. (Commodore Tim Hoare has decreed that my dancing is an act against nature and that I should stop. I have.) But getting off a ski lift with my Kinder and then watching two figures disappear in the distance is just as mortifying. Such are the joys of getting old. I now ski with the MoMC, who pretends that we are equally skilled as she negotiates our way down the baby slopes.

On a happier note, my old friend Sebastian Taylor threw a party for Sacha Lichine, whose Whispering Angel rosé received 20 out of 20 from leading wine experts. Lichine’s father, Alexis, was quite the legend. Like most legends, he was also a rogue, marrying six times and seducing all sorts of film stars. Alexis joined the OSS, the precursor to the CIA, and ran around occupied Europe making trouble for the Nazis and bedding women galore. He was a friend of the Rockefellers and introduced wine to America after the war. (Well, some Americans did drink wine before the war, but they were few and very upper class.)

When I arrived at the party, Sacha was standing outside in the cold having a smoke and drinking a martini. His opening line was that a martini is like women’s breasts. One is not enough, and three is too many. Quite right, I thought. The dinner was at the Jean Denoyer restaurant in town, a new place with very good food whose owner is deep in the grip of my past: he owned some very fun places in New York when I was younger. I wish him luck, but Gstaad is a hard nut to crack if you’re not a local. He’ll probably be discovered hundreds of years from now up in some glacier perfectly preserved, but I shouldn’t hint at such matters.

Mind you, everything is now hunky-dory. I’m skiing, drinking, partying, training and reading good books. What else could a man wish for? Well, I can think of a few things, but this is a family-oriented column in the world’s most elegantly written weekly, so I will desist. But if any young women out there happen to prefer older men, do get in touch. I’m as easy to catch as the flu I just got rid of.