High life | 9 October 2010

Taki lives the high life.

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Some of our readers may be aware that the sainted editor’s wife is Swedish — and she has a sister — but I swear on the Koran that what follows has nothing to do with that. The sainted one wrote about Sweden in these here pages two weeks ago. About how the Swedes have bucked the recession by lowering taxes. What I will tell you is about the fun I’ve had with the hyperborean beauties of that country, starting with my first great love Kerin, wife of a great tennis player of the late Fifties.

We were touring together and as he would compete all week and I’d be out of the tournament by Tuesday or Wednesday, Kerin and I would spend a lot of time together. So much so that people talked. Although Kerin refused to sleep with me — she was on her honeymoon when she joined the tour — we’d sit watching her hubby play. But all she did was look at me. It drove me nuts, and the Indian players, who were among the first to notice, used to have a cheap laugh about it. I told her that I felt like Charles XII, known as a great king but the one who lost the whole kit and caboodle to the Russians. She just kept looking deep into my eyes.

Her hubby never let on except when I played him in Lausanne in the summer of ’59. I think I won one game and was lucky to get that. He was very good-looking, a great player, loved her but never spoke more than a few words to her. He retired over the next year or so and I never saw her again. Thirty years later, at a reunion, my Indian and South American tennis buddies refused to believe that the affair was innocent. Which the next one wasn’t. Her name was Kiki, and she was the prettiest girl on the Côte d’Azur in the summer of 1958–59. I was so disgusted with my tennis playing and Kerin’s reluctance to make it illegal, I quit the circuit and went to the Riviera in mid-July where I joined the fast set for some badly needed recreation.

Kiki and I hit it off and moved in together in the cheapest room of the Hotel du Cap. She was so stunning that the invites came fast and furious. Even Gianni Agnelli gave her a whirl but it was a no-go. Kiki loved only Taki. We were poor but in love and slept in a tiny bed over the garages of the hotel, where the owner of the time had given me a room for next to nothing. While I practised in the afternoon Kiki watched my best friend Zographos play backgammon for large stakes with one of the most disgusting men ever to throw dice, Edgar Ausnit. As I said, we were broke but madly in love.

One evening, while Kiki was having a shower, I went looking for a match, opened her handbag, and a fortune in French francs fell out. When I asked her where it came from, she blushed and said it came from home, but then reluctantly admitted that it was a present from...the world’s ugliest man, Monsieur Ausnit. When I demanded explanations from Zographos he began to stammer and said he had a funeral to attend and left the hotel. I realised I had been cuckolded by a 90-year-old and a very ugly one at that. It was the end of the affair. I returned to playing tennis rather brokenheartedly.

Ten years later came Helen, even prettier than Kiki, 16 as opposed to Kiki’s 19, and a model. We took trips together and I taught her to be right-wing and all about Vietnam. In Cyprus one night, while I was interviewing a politician, a friend told her about a beautiful Swedish sailing boat up for sale in Stockholm. I dropped the pol and flew with her to Sweden and bought the first Bushido on sight. It belonged to the great Wallenberg family and she was the most beautiful of all my boats. Helen went on to marry a rich man, as Kiki had done. Both girls ended up very well off, unlike the first Bushido, which now plies the seas as a rental between the isles of Greece.

Which brings me to the point of my story. A very haggard old bag, the New York Times, recently criticised Sweden for a ‘xenophobic anti-immigrant party’ which won 20 seats in the 349-seat parliament. The old hag insisted that the Swedes must do better and grant more people asylum and not ‘force-feed Swedish culture’. In other words, the Swedes, with the highest standard of living in the world and the most beautiful women — even if they betray Taki — should revert to hiding their faces and living off benefits. ‘Keeping immigrants out is no answer,’ thundered the old bag. The irony is that those who wrote this rubbish live in New York buildings that wouldn’t allow Arab immigrants to hang about the premises, or even on the sidewalk outside. They are the worst hypocrites and phonies imaginable, yet they daily preach to the rest of us how we should live. Sweden is a great country that has made one great mistake. She was too tolerant of foreigners and they threaten her Swedish way of life. As one who has suffered from but has forgiven Swedes, I am uniquely qualified to give advice. Throw the bums out and continue to produce beautiful women who torture poor little Taki.