What Jesus taught us

This is the 47th year in a row that I have written a column for The Spectator’s Christmas issue. It began when I was a young 40-year-old, and is at present being written by an 87-year-old vet. The years have passed in an eye-blink. Recently I asked myself why do bad things happen to good

Why the Greeks invented virtue

I had a good talk with my NBF, Owen Matthews, at The Spectator’s writers’ party, and we agreed on the two subjects we talked about: Russia and women. I won’t exaggerate the enormity of our aggregate knowledge – and the way we have deployed it in our service, especially where the fairer sex is concerned.

Everyone is a victim these days – even me

Lord Moore and I go back a ways, more than 40-odd years. I clearly remember the first time we met in editor Alexander Chancellor’s office at The Spectator. I was called in and Alexander introduced me to a fresh-looking 25-year-old Charles who had just been named foreign editor. ‘He went to our old school,’ joked

Why the world needs Richard Nixon

Gstaad The Speccie arrived just in time for me to read about the rudeness of one Lyndon Johnson, then vice-president, toward Lady Antonia Fraser. A later occupant of the White House, Jimmy Carter, was not as discourteous as the Texan, but in somewhat similar circumstances he left the poor little Greek boy standing alone surrounded

New York has cancelled Mozart

Gstaad This is the best news since the Bush-Blair duo saved us from the nuclear holocaust Saddam was about to unleash upon us. Half a Unwanted electric cars pile up everywhere but the government has gone as deaf as Beethoven million, perhaps even one million dead Iraqis later, we were nevertheless saved with minutes to

How to train like Taki

Gstaad Here’s a tip for you young whippersnappers: don’t get old, but if you do, you can fool Father Time by training the smart way. By this I don’t mean you should follow all that bull that floats around online. I don’t use social media, but I’m told that a system exists, which reaches millions

The glory of Paris has long past

Gstaad A reader’s inquiry as to why I think Paris belongs to yesterday (12 August) has me remembering times past. When did the party end? According to many night owls it was when the ‘Queen of the Night’, Regine, shut down her club New Jimmy’z and moved to London in the 1970s, where she flopped.

The day I have dreaded has finally arrived: my birthday

Coronis Trafficking in enchantment, I sailed west to Coronis, the most perfect private isle on this planet. At times I think I’m in the realm of fantasy, such is the beauty of the place, the perfection of its function, yet a nouveau riche, Bezos or Zuckerberg, say, would most likely find it not up to

The FBI has a problem with Catholics

On board Aello She was built in 1921, a beautiful wooden ketch that is as graceful to look at as she’s uncomfortable for fat cats accustomed to gin palaces. I’ve sailed her over many years, the last time giving her to my children as I was in plaster having fallen from a balcony in Gstaad.

In praise of minding your own business

Athens With energy bordering on the demonic, I strut around an ancient stadium trying to make up for the debauchery of the past two weeks in Patmos. Alexandra has flown back to Gstaad and I’m staying with my oldest friend, Aliki Goulandris, whose magnificent country house north of the capital brings back very pleasant memories.

Greece’s age-old obsession with fire

Patmos While green Rhodes and greener Corfu burn away, arid Patmos remains fireproof because rock and soil do not a bonfire make. The Almighty granted some islands plenty of water, and other ones no H2O whatsoever. Most of the Cycladic isles lug in drinking water from the mainland, and make do with treated unsalted seawater

Why I chose virtue over vice

Patmos A funny thing happened on my way to this beautiful place, an island without druggies, nightclub creeps, clip joints or hookers. I stopped in Athens for about five hours in order to look over old haunts and just walk around places I’d known as a youth, when I noticed something incredible: none of the

The death of sportsmanship

Now that Wimbledon is over, a few thoughts about youthful brains showing traces of horse tranquillisers, angel dust and cannabis, the ingredients that spell ‘moron’. I mean those sporting idiots who booed Victoria Azarenka after she lost the tiebreak 11 to 9 in the third set to the charming Ukrainian Elina Svitolina. Here’s Vica –

I know how Jonny Bairstow feels

A poor little Greek boy writing about cricket etiquette is like Harry Sussex lecturing on discretion, but never mind. As everyone but Joe Biden knows by now, Jonny Bairstow was given out recently during the second test match at Lord’s. For any of you out in Baja California who might have missed it, the Brit

The pleasure and pain of reading

Gstaad There are lurid rumours circulating around this Alpine village that an international literature symposium has taken place, with some of the richest and more recent arrivals demanding that the arch suspect behind the alleged outrage deny it or else. ‘Say it ain’t so, Joe,’ screamed a nightclub freak at the suspect right on Main

The changing face of the Eternal City

Rome To the Eternal City for the saddest of occasions, the funeral of the mother of Taki, 17, and Maria, 15, two of my four grandchildren. Assia was of noble birth and met my son John Taki at the Rosey school in Switzerland, where they both studied skiing and other such useful pursuits. They had

My night with Rod Liddle

‘I was 12 when I first got laid.’ ‘Where was that?’ ‘In Middlesbrough.’ ‘How the hell did you get lucky at 12 in Middlesbrough, when I only managed it at 15 and on my father’s boat off Cannes in 1952?’ ‘It was a dark and stormy night.’ This was no tortured confession by some doomed

In praise of Londoners

Southampton, Long Island ‘Why, oh why, do the wrong people travel?’ sang Noël Coward back in the early 1960s. Lucky Sir Noël, he never met the present bunch. Just as the Bolsheviks deemed the aristocracy and the intelligentsia to be enemies of the people back in 1917, good manners and conservative dress are viewed today

The lost magic of the Hamptons

Southampton, Long Island They’ve honed the skill of attracting attention by building some of the largest and ugliest houses this side of the Russian-owned Riviera ones, yet the luminous little village still retains signs of a bygone civilised era. A few grand houses built a long time ago are proof that not all Americans are

The death of fair play

New York He’s oilier than Molière’s Tartuffe but gets away with more. His latest move involves the martial art of jiu-jitsu, where he managed to get a referee to reverse his decision. I’ve been competing in martial arts for close to 60 years now, and have rarely, in fact never, witnessed a ref reverse his