Taki Taki

High life | 4 May 2017

I haven’t felt such gloom since my father died but the tribute Nick would have wanted is laughter, parties and songs

I’m sitting in my office and the place is still. The rest of the house is dark. Everyone’s out and I’m here writing about the death of a friend. I haven’t felt such gloom since my father died 28 years ago. The question why did he have to die is implicitly followed by another: how did he live his life? The answer to that one is easy: recklessly. Learning how to die, according to Montaigne, is unlearning how to be a slave. Nick Scott, who died last week in India, was no slave.

Nick went to Eton. He was an army man and a very talented landscape artist and gardener, among the best-dressed men of his time, a clubman par excellence. He was a very good father to two boys and two girls, and probably the best unpublished writer of his generation. He was funny as only few people can be funny, with a straight face and via cartoonish exaggeration. I met him a very long time ago at a lunch in Simpson’s-in-the-Strand given by Charlie Glass. Nick was talking about his children and I evinced surprise. Nick asked me why. I thought you were gay, said I. What makes you think I’m gay? Well, not one but two palazzos in Venice, English and an old Etonian; surely you must be gay. He banged his head on the table with such force that plates fell off it. As his forehead began to balloon, he went on as if nothing had happened. Incidentally, Nick was as gay as I am.

As with Rick and Captain Renault, it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Nick invented a grotesque, fun-house distortion of yours truly, pronouncing my name as Taaaki, and imitating my drunken slurring whenever my name came up.

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