Taki Taki

High life | 9 June 2016

It was the worst news since Stalingrad, but events the following morning more than made up for it

Shelter Island is nestled in the Long Island Sound, ten minutes by ferry from Sag Harbor and a good 30 from the horrible Hamptons with its Porsches, mega-mansions and celebrity trash. It is where, on my last week in the Big Bagel, I was taken back to the Forties and Fifties for a weekend. Shelter Island is what the Hamptons used to be: tranquil, beautiful, rustic, unspoiled, with lovely ponds bordered by shady oaks and maples. The pace slows the minute you get off the ferry and step into the peaceful enclave. There are forested hills, secluded coves and quiet beaches. The sea is hardly the Mediterranean, but there are no migrant bodies, and not a single mega yacht to spoil the surroundings.

The island is not about to join the Hamptons circus any time soon. More than a third is set aside as a nature reserve, and so developers are as eager to put up their horrible houses as Hasidic Jews are to build synagogues in Saudi. The unacceptable rich are staying away because ‘it’s inconvenient’ (i.e. the ferry ride), but seaplanes land regularly and the price from Manhattan is the same as dinner for two in a medium-priced restaurant.

The excesses of the summer season on the tip of Long Island keep the gossip columns busy, but have driven yours truly back to his birthplace, migrants and all, not to mention austerity measures. The Hamptons was brought down by an invasion of the hedgie fungus, a disease worse than lime, one that compels the sufferer to outdo his neighbour in size. Things were made worse by an invasion of club promoters with sensibilities like those of the Kardashian clan, and similar illnesses. In the space of ten short years, the potato fields were gone, the mega-mansions were up, the slime of the city had come up to breathe the Atlantic Ocean’s air, and I had sold my house and retreated to Gstaad to look at cows.

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