High life | 7 July 2016

Beware a May-like dependence on civil servants who will water everything down

High life | 7 July 2016
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I am trying to decide with some friends which is worse, English weather or English football. The former is improving as I write, but the latter’s problems are terminal. There are too many ‘directors of development’ and other jargon-packed non-jobs that interfere with the very simple process of developing football. Send them all to Iceland, bring on a dentist, and cut footballers’ salaries by 90 per cent, and you just might one day learn to win.

But on to far more important things than ghastly football, like the wonderful garden party given by my friend Richard Northcott that brought back some very pleasant memories. There’s something rejuvenating about running into old girlfriends, despite the wrinkles and the sags. Memory speaks. Richard and I met a long time ago in Paris. I had spotted a beautiful girl at a party the night before and had sent her my Romeo & Juliet letter. The next morning, recovering in the bar of the hotel, a good-looking man walked in holding a piece of paper and asked no one in particular: ‘Who’s the poet?’ I raised my hand and said that it was not meant for him but for a lady. ‘Yes, she’s my wife.’ It was the start of a beautiful friendship. Both Richard and I have a weakness for the weaker sex, so you can guess the rest.

Next on the agenda was Prince and Princess Pavlos of Greece’s dinner to celebrate their 21st wedding anniversary. It doesn’t seem that long ago that we were at Hampton Court for the wedding and Lester Lanin’s orchestra played on as the platform started to sink on the man-made lake, just like on the Titanic. Mind you, the hangover this time was even worse, but that’s normal. Twenty-one years is no laughing matter as far as the liver is concerned.

The highlight of my London season was, of course, giving a dinner at Hertford Street for my friend Greville Howard and then being taken upstairs by Robin Birley to meet my hero, Nigel Farage. Let’s face it, Nigel is the big winner in all this. Ukip members were called lotsa names, the nicest being fruitcakes, but they’re the ones who forced the vote and who inspired more than 17 million Brits to vote Brexit. We had a very good chat, Lord Howard asking Nigel what we should guard against having won. That was an easy one. Not following through, a May-like dependence on civil servants (my words), who will water everything down. We then proceeded to smoke non-stop just to piss a few people off.

Yes, it’s great to be back in London and I had a bonus laugh thanks to Christina Estrada’s bizarre claim that she’s high society. I knew la Estrada some 20 years ago, before she married a rich Saudi from that sandy hellhole. He emphasised his vulgarity by tracing his family tree in camels on the outside of his chalet in Gstaad. I kid you not. In the court proceedings in which Christina is claiming an exorbitant amount — one I hope she gets — she also made the extraordinary claim that she’s an opera buff. Asked by the camel-driver’s mouthpiece to name an opera besides La traviata, Estrada named The Nutcracker. Oh well, it could have been worse; she could have said Tom & Jerry.

The other faux pas Christina made was to say she was high society because she hung out with Prince Andrew. Ouch! She would have been better off claiming friendship with the convicted child-molesting buddy of Andrew, that nice Epstein fellow. Mind you, a girl needs to be paid off, having married a Saudi who has his family tree painted outside his chalet to impress the cows.

Just before I sat down to write this, I was standing outside my hotel in Cadogan Gardens and I watched a mother, with two tiny children in the back of the car, trying to reverse into a parking space. She had her back lights flashing and was doing a good job until a black BMW with two men up front poked its nose into her space making it impossible for her to fit in. I watched in fascination as one of the men got out and walked towards Peter Jones. The driver just sat there. He was of Pakistani or Bangladeshi appearance. After about a minute, the lady got out and asked him what he was doing. ‘I have two small children, for God’s sake...’ He waved her away and stayed where he was. So I had to get involved. I told him that I had seen the whole thing, that he had come in long after she had begun to back into the parking space, and that he had no right to the space just because she was a woman. ‘Pull that crap where you come from, not here,’ I said.

That did it. The bully-boy anarchists trying to intimidate the politicians into reversing the Brexit vote have got nothing on this driver, who saw a woman alone and decided to take her parking space. He raved, screamed and threatened, but never once did he get out of the car. The poor woman thanked me and wanted to leave, but I assured her that she should stay put and wait for the space. The man had a lot in common with Blair, Mandelson and Juncker, I said: all talk no action. Sure enough, he waited for his buddy and left after more threats. I was laughing, the lady was happy (perhaps she was a Speccie reader) and only one of the tots in the back cried.

Next week, I will tell you about a handful of hard men.