The healing power of the Hamptons

The healing power of the Hamptons
A long weekend by the sea is what the doctor always orders, and this time it really worked. [MikeRega]
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Southampton, Long Island

These are peripatetic times for the poor little Greek boy, up to the Hamptons for some sun-seeking among Wasp types, and then down to the nation’s capital for the memorial service of that wonderful humorist P.J. O’Rourke. By all means take the following with a grain of salt, but even 800 million years ago, when only micro-organisms slithered around the beaches, belonging to a private club was all-important, especially in the Hamptons. Never have I seen more chest-thumping, bandy-legged, bearded louts trash-talking as they pollute the beaches in this beautiful town. Southampton was once a luminous little village that served as a seaside refuge for New York’s civilised rich during the unbearable heat of urban summer. You know the sort of thing: white wooden houses, long green lawns, wicker chairs, yellow and white umbrellas and people who talked in what was known as Park Avenue lockjaw.

Back then, belonging to a private club was pure snobbism; now it’s a lifesaver. The barbarians have overrun the place, put up Hollywood-style monstrosities on the wide acres that once grew potatoes, and have driven prices through the roof. Staying at an old club that’s been around for a century, one I joined long ago, made my days and nights. None of the members used the ubiquitous F-word, but better yet, no mobile telephones are allowed within the common rooms and terraces, making the place feel like Tahiti when Paul Gauguin was around. A long weekend there restored my spirits, despite a night of debauchery followed by a hangover that would have been too much even for a Karamazov. Never mind. A sense of claustrophobic delirium takes over after a while in the Bagel, the light and shadow of the city summoning memories of being banged up. A long weekend by the sea is what the doctor always orders, and this time it really worked.

America has become a strange country to people like me who believe in myths. No one in Europe disputes who our progenitors were in the manner young know-it-alls in America do. Who were the pioneers, they ask rhetorically. It’s the kind of question posed by left-wing smart alecks and ignoramuses, out to divide and rule. According to the great classical historian Taki, people of different nationalities and backgrounds, with different histories and different customs, are all prescriptions for disaster. Except that it used to work in America. No longer. Keep your old customs and beliefs, is the order of the day. America’s past, so the prevailing orthodoxy goes, was racist, hence conformity to Americana is a no-no. The founding fathers are the first to fall, along with their statues. History in Europe goes pretty much unchallenged. Not so over here, where it is being rewritten as statues are torn down and places renamed.

Mind you, political polarisation is not new. It helped bring Hitler to power, not to mention Mussolini, Franco, Lenin and Mao. In South America strongmen were the norm, as they are in present-day Africa. The reason the UK and US have always been democratic is that authoritarians have never been given free rein. What is presently tolerated, however, are a new type of tyrants, the spin dictators that marginalise opponents using politically correct footsoldiers and cancellation, rather than the water cannon and the baton. These tyrants have managed to intimidate and subvert educators, journalists, TV media, Hollywood and politicians, something only Hitler and Stalin managed in their lifetime.

Will this woke anarcho-tyranny against Middle America succeed, or will it end up on the historical rubbish dump, as it deserves to? The great Greek classical historian thinks that the germ has spread among the young, and a basic abhorrence for anyone who doesn’t agree with them will grow exponentially until only a few old fools will be allowed to speak their minds, mostly among themselves. And while I’m at it, can any of you envision Winston Churchill or Harold Macmillan being called a liar by a woman interviewer dressed in gym clothes? Boris should have got up and ordered her to leave. When will my side learn not to give in?

Never mind. Perhaps things aren’t as bad as all that, but the fact that since the Texas massacre of children there have been two mass shootings a day in the United States makes one feel that the place is as safe and united as the West Bank. The mayor of the Bagel recently named a gun violence czar to stop gun violence, and the appointee czar has a conviction of first-degree manslaughter. And his outreach programme – which had received 26.6 million big ones in city funding since 2010 – was found to have significant financial irregularities. He is the city’s hope to stop the shooting, which is a bit like yours truly being appointed liquor and drug czar for London (not a bad idea incidentally).

Insane demands by each radical group, including ‘defund the police’, help make the US ungovernable. ‘Two Million New Faces in 16 Months’ is a headline that caught my eye, and it confirms the fact that America has lost control of its borders. Which brings me back to where I started. Private clubs will become safe havens sooner rather than later.