Taki Taki

High Life | 18 July 2009

Friends in high places

‘One can name-drop with impunity when writing about the past,’ said Nicky Haslam. ‘What is hard is to avoid it when writing of the present,’ according to the sage. I remember when this column began 32 years ago readers writing in to complain about ND. But what was I to do? Go to a grand ball and not mention anyone but the help? Or the name of those in the band? There was still high life back then, and most people wished to know who was partying and where. Before the crumbling of the social order it was fun to read about toffs dancing the night away. Now we have ‘Sir’ Philip Green appearing daily in the gossip columns, which in a manner of speaking has done away with name-dropping. As Lady Bracknell would doubtlessly have exclaimed, ‘Philip Green! Philip Green!’

The great party-givers of my time were neither narcissists nor show-offs, just good-time Charlies who liked to share their good fortune with their friends. Guy de Rothschild used to give grand balls in his magnificent chateau outside Paris, and as a young man in a hurry I was invited to most of them. Guy and his wife Marie-Ellen knew how to mix it up. The old guard of French aristocrats, la jeunesse dorée, le tout Paris, young actors, artists, playboys and sportsmen made all their balls memorable. The Rothschild clan has always believed in restraint, never flamboyance, yet their parties were magical because they mostly invited their friends.

If I had to pinpoint the sine qua non of a successful bash, it would be that: friends.

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